Healing Garden Nettle Soup

Why Eat Nettles?

Nettles are such a rich source of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C and iron and has antihistamine, anti inflammatory, astringent and diuretic properties. (Balick 2014) and as such practitioners can use nettle to treat anaemia, poor circulation, arthritis, allergies, menstrual problems, urinary tract infection and kidney stones.

Nettle is a wonderful herb for women’s health in general at the different stages of life/menstrual cycle. High in iron, it is a good blood builder for when bleeding and it is a great herb for menopause as I discovered from Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Way:

“Stinging nettle builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you’ll jump up and exercise” Susan Weed (2002)

Growing and Nettles

I love growing nettles! It is an easy to grow ‘weed’.

As well as having great nutritional value, Nettle is a are great addition to a permaculture garden and can be used in a range of composting methods as a soil conditioner.  I make a liquid manure/tea from nettle which is a great feed to give to plants for growth, particularly for greens.

Here on our property, I let nettle self seed, and allow it to establish in different parts of the garden for what we need. Here are two photos of some of our nettle crop this year. A big bunch growing on the edge of the broad bean bed and a patch of nettle (and random asian greens) growing in our chicken coup. Our 6 new pullets will be moving in soon and will most certainly finish off the greens!

Harvesting the nettle

I find the fresh, newer leaves are the best for this soup.  It is best to harvest just before flowering. Once the nettle starts to go to seed. I find once the leaves start to darken and toughen up they are less sweet and juicy.

Many people can be afraid of nettle because of its ‘sting’. The solution is to wear gloves when handing fresh nettles. And then the sting is lost in the process of cooking or drying. Here is a photo of me trimming the juicy green nettle leaves for this soup.

Harvesting nettle

Yummy Nettle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 leek washed and finely sliced
  • 1 large floury potato thinly sliced
  • 1 L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400g nettle leaves
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml double cream

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, leek and potato, and cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

Add the stock and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft.

Add the nettle leaves simmer for 1 minute until they wilt. Blend the soup.

Season to taste, then stir in the butter and cream.

NB I find this soup is best eaten fresh. Whilst I have frozen some, unlike soup such as Minestrone, it does not taste better with warming up.

Bibliography

Balick, MJ (2014) 21st Century Herbal. Rodale.

Weed, S (2002)  http://www.menopause-metamorphosis.com/An_Article-healthy.htm

 

The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your medical or other health professional. Do not use this information to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider. 

© 2018 Jane Mallick. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

The Early Summer Garden, broad beans and the birth of TARA

In this season’s Healing Garden blog I give an update of the early summer garden and I share our exciting plans for the creation of the TARA Healing and Education centre here in Taradale.

celtic bean medicine cardRecently in Glenn and my ‘tooing and froing’ about whether we will proceed with this significant property development I pulled this Celtic Bean oracle card, symbolising fertility, reincarnation and nourishment:  “A project that was buried may be bearing fruit in a un-expected way”.

Broad beans can be an underrated vegetable and yet they are so nutritious.  I share with you the abundant properties of the underrated broad bean, as well as some yummy recipes.

The Early Summer Mediterranean Garden

This year was again a busy time in the Spring garden that I didn’t write a spring garden blog for 2017. On our 5.5 acre property our days are filled with what feels like endless weeding and mowing, preparing the garden beds for summer, anticipating the last frost (or what we hope to be the last frost!) and the planting of the masses of summer vegetables.

Now it is December, with the summer heat upon us, the garden is planted out with our heirloom vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants, chillis, cucumbers, melons, zucchinis, beans, lettuces and Asian greens of many varieties, and of course many culinary herbs including basil, dill, parsley, mint, marjoram, all which add that wonderful touch to all our dishes.

The berries are in full swing. We are currently eating bowls of strawberries each day, and are observing the cane berries exploding from full flower, buzzing with bees, to now forming bunches of huge berries. This year is going to be an outstanding crop, where we are sure we will have excess berries for preserving.

Our garden provides us with most of the food for our family for the year, with excess going to local food schemes, students, clients and friends. We regularly find ourselves with a ‘glut’ of different produce at different times of the year.

In late spring/early summer there we have an abundance of a fresh greens, lettuces and kale, parsley and coriander as well as purple sprouting broccoli and globe artichokes. These vegetables and herbs coincide with the wood element in TCM, and the Liver/Gallbladder meridians, where greens are a wonderful source of food for natural spring cleansing.

We have just finished our first major asparagus crop, where we enjoyed the unique diggers purple variety ‘Fat Bastard’ (a name that could only be Australian!). We are well on the way to in a few years the bed will have enough asparagus to feed the visitors that attend TARA Healing and Education centre.

The Abundant Broad Bean

We have just harvested an abundant crop of broad beans, which we are eating, preserving and freezing by the bucket load. I believe broad beans are underrated, and yet they are not only highly nutritious, they are easy to grow and provide a wonderful source of nitrogen for the garden beds through their roots – feeding the soil as well as our family!

Broad beans (also known as Fava beans) are an ancient cultivated crop originating from Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region. They are a cool season vegetable that grows well here in Central Victoria. We have been growing the Digger’s heirloom variety that has a beautiful magenta flower providing much beauty in the garden as well as producing a smaller, sweeter bean.

crimson broad beans

Reading about the health benefits of broad beans has confirmed, yet again to me, home grown food can provide can provide us with so many of the nutrients we need.  Broad beans are:

  • a great source of protein and energy and are a rich source of dietary fibre
  • rich in antioxidants, vitamins (incl. vitamin-B6,  thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin and niacin and minerals (incl. iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium and potassium)
  • rich in phytonutrients such as isoflavone and plant sterols and contain Levo-dopamine or L-dopa, a precursor of neuro-chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, epinephrine, and nor-epinephrine. In the brain, dopamine is associated with the smooth, coordinated functioning of body movements
  • (when fresh) an excellent source of folates.

Source: https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/broad-beans/

Here are some simple broad bean recipes that we have been making. double podded smashed broad beans, simple warm broad bean salad, and preserving freezing.

The birth of TARA Healing and Education Centre

This year has been a significant year of moving forward to transforming our small hobby farm, into the development of TARA Healing and Education Centre.

Currently both Glenn and I travel to many different places to offer our teaching and healing work. Bringing our work to Taradale will enable us to expand our yoga and shiatsu teaching work, and to also include the healing foods and garden into our offerings. The venue will also be available for hire for other like-minded teachers and healers to come and enjoy the beauty of our property and the abundant food we produce.

The vision is to include the:

  • building of a new eco, Feng Shui designed home for us to live in;
  • conversion of the existing house into a large teaching and healing studio for workshops and events; and the
  • creation of accommodation rooms for retreat and B&B and farmstays.

We have gathered around us a wonderful team of professionals. A Feng Shui consultant to ensure the harmonious design of the buildings. A Strategic Planner to help on the Planning Application for local Council. A building designer to bring our eco vision into reality.

The plan is to build the new house in 2018, to open the teaching studio in 2019, and to have accommodation open by 2020. Next year we will launch TARA website as well as a crowd funding campaign. We hope that you will get on board and share this campaign with your family, friends and community. We will be offering many super prizes including yoga and shiatsu workshops, gardening workshops, healing and coaching sessions, fruit and vegetable boxes, garden tours, composting workshops and more!

We are both excited and are enjoying creating the vision. At times huge fears come up, particularly around money, as this will be a significant investment for us. Neither of us have ever embarked on such a large business enterprise. We have received incredibly positive feedback from friends, students, colleagues and clients and we keep hearing and feeling a deep calling to create a beacon for positive change. Also what keeps us moving forward beyond these fears is our passion for the individual and the collective need for a shift in consciousness and with this a quality health and lifestyle education to facilitate change towards living sustainability and ethically.

Summer Garden: Magical Marjoram

My Healing Garden

Our garden in Taradale is now 4 years in the making. My husband Glenn and I started from a bare paddock and it is now a thriving garden full of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as an abundance of healing herbs and flowers.

Before and After : 2012 Empty paddock  and 2016 Vegetable patch 2016 

My love for gardening developed early on. I grew up in Tasmania living off of my parent’s 6.5 acre hobby farm and used to love strolling through the wild herb gardens of my parents’ ‘hippy’ friends collecting aromatic herbs and flowers for my potpourri projects. Over the years, I have created and tended numerous gardens in Tasmania, London and Melbourne and am now blessed to be able to cultivate our healing garden here in Taradale, Central Victoria.

The current state of our world affairs is calling for our food system to become more sustainable, local and ethical. For us, this means eating off the land by growing food in the backyard. I also believe that the process of growing, tending and consuming an array of homegrown vegetables, herbs and flowers offers us great gifts of healing for ourselves, each other and the planet.

It is my hope that the tales from my healing garden inspire you to begin your own. There is nothing more magical than planting and nurturing your own garden that allows you to cook up gourmet meals with the freshest seasonal ingredients that nurture your whole being.

The Summer Vegetable Garden

Despite the summer weather extremes (most years heat, this year floods!) in our garden here in Central Victoria, it is one of the most abundant times of the year. Right now in our healing garden we have an abundance of produce including lettuce, rocket, endive, daikon radish, onions, peas and beans, beetroot and new potatoes. Zucchini and tomatoes are just coming into harvest. Get the recipe for our family’s famous Summer Zucchini Pasta.

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This year is also the first year when our bramble berry patch is in full swing, giving us kilograms of mixed berries and the supplies to make jams, cordials and summer puddings and freezing any excess to enjoy all year long.

Bramble Berries in full production 

One of my greatest passions in the garden is healing herbs and flowers. Each season, I’d like to take you on a journey through an in-depth exploration of select healing herbs and flowers.

Marjoram: Joy of the Mountain

Origanum, the genus name for both oregano and marjoram, comes from the Greek oros, which means mountains and ganos, which means joy. There are two main types of marjoram: sweet marjoram and oregano, which is a wild marjoram and is stronger and spicier. Even if you have only a small garden or courtyard with pots, marjoram is a must in any summer garden.

marjoram-in-the-garden

Growing conditions

Marjoram requires full sun and a light friable soil. Marjoram is a good companion plant and does well planted in a mixed vegetable garden as you can see in the photo along with chives, calendula, garlic and beetroot. Marjoram is frost sensitive, so it will die in the winter and will re-emerge again in the spring and summer.

History and mythology

Marjoram was a revered herb for the ancient Greeks. This herb was precious to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and young Greek couples were crowned with marjoram on their wedding day. It was also believed that marjoram grown on a tomb would make the dead person happy. In medieval times marjoram was thrown over the floors of private homes and churches (probably for use as an antiseptic).

In the Kitchen and the home

Marjoram is a central herb to the Mediterranean cuisines of France, Italy and Portugal. It has a more subtle flavor that its close relative oregano and is excellent for use in meat and seafood dishes. Marjoram also combines well with carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, potatoes and zucchini.

Marjoram can be added to stews, soups, pasta dishes, sautés, stuffings, salads, marinades, dressings, herb butters, vinegars and oils. Marjoram is one of the herbs central to a bouquet garni.

Due to its high oil content, marjoram can be dried very easily.

dscn0321

Marjoram oil is used as a fragrance in many soaps, creams lotions and perfumes. The mild antiseptic qualities are thought to be beneficial for the skin. I like to use dried marjoram from my healing garden in a warm and soothing bath.

Healing Properties*

Marjoram has an incredible range of healing properties:

  • Digestive Aid. Marjoram has a very soothing effect on the digestive system. It is also considered a carminative, an agent that expels stomach and intestinal gas. It has been used to treat loss of appetite, colic, nausea, cramps, nervous upsets and vomiting.
  • Sedative. Marjoram has calming and soothing properties that are thought to aid in sleep.
  • Antiseptic. Marjoram’s antiseptic values have made it useful as a remedy for bad breath, tonsillitis, coughs, colds, toothaches and respiratory ailments.
  • Circulation. Enhances overall immunity and increases circulation. Marjoram increases the flow of bile and has a reputation for clearing the body of toxins and improving circulation.
  • Pain. The essential oil of marjoram can be externally massaged into painful joints, aching muscles sprains and strains.
  • Mental and Emotional Healing. The essential oil of marjoram is thought to ease loneliness, bereavement and heartache. It has also been used to relax physical and mental tension, relieve insomnia, restlessness, anxiety and depress and to enhance concentration.

For readers who have an understanding of Ayurveda, Frawley and Lad (2001) list marjoram as a pungent and heating, a stimulant and antispasmodic, and is thought to kindle agni. Marjoram will lower Vata, elevate Pitta and lower Kapha.

Watching herbs work their magic from seed or seedling through to harvest and from plate to healing agent can be a transformative experience. It is my hope that after reading about my journey you feel inspired to give growing and utilising plants from your own healing garden a try. You can begin with just a couple of herbs, like marjoram, receive the healing and enjoy the process as your garden and passion grows.

Bibliography

Balick, MJ (2014) 21st Century Herbal. Rodale.

Frawley, D and Lad, V (2001) (2nd edition) The Yoga of Herbs: an ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Lotus Press.

McIntyre, A (2010) The Complete Herbal Tutor. Gaia.

Readers Digest (1994) Magic and Medicine of Plants. Readers Digest.

The health information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your medical or other health professional. Do not use this information to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or health condition. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider. 

© 2017 Jane Mallick. All rights reserved.