Don’t poison those weeds, eat them

Nettles are high in vitamins and minerals

Nettle leaves have been used for centuries as a nourishing tonic

Of course not all weeds are edible. In fact some are very poisonous, but there are a number that not only taste good but are full of useful vitamins and minerals. Others can be used as remedies for simple complaints such as colds, cuts or stings. Most also have a fascinating history.
One of the most useful weeds found in Australian gardens or nearby wastelands is the common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Before you recoil in horror I’m not suggesting anyone use them in the way the Romans did, who when they first came to England were advised to flog themselves with nettles to get their circulation moving on cold English mornings. Life must have been considerably harder then. Flogging with nettles or ‘urtication’ is still sometimes recommended as a treatment for arthritis or rheumatism. At the very least nettles should be pulled out (wearing gloves) and added to the compost as they add minerals and speed the composting process. Drying or cooking de-activates the sting but if you do get stung, rub the affected part with a broken nettle stem to stop the pain. Read more

Growing up with gardening

Young girl with sunflowers

Ellen with sunflowers

By Ellen

Mum always thought it was only a matter of time before I became I keen gardener. But on the eve of my 22nd birthday I still don’t feel any strong desire to rave about the brilliance of borage or the magnificence of mint. Growing up with my mother Penny Woodward was always a trade off between gardens and ice cream, gardens and play grounds, gardens and mini golf. My brother and I went with her to the gardens, if we behaved ourselves we got ice cream (or a visit to a play ground, or mini golf). This being said, some of the most memorable hours of my childhood were in gardens. Especially Heronswood in Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula, watching the goldfish and proudly identifying the elephant garlic. I came to know this allium quite well over the ten years Mum spent writing her book Garlic and friends.  Garden visits took us all over Australia, to find mazes, Avenues of Honour, new gardens and plant-oriented ways to write about our family holidays. Read more

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