One of my first steps in becoming a gardener was to establish a herb garden on my old veranda. Dad gave me a heap of old plastic pots he had in the shed and I got dirt and seedlings from my local garden centre.
At first, it was all hit and miss, I had no idea what I was doing. I think I killed all of the first lot with over attention, too much water and too much pruning. But now I feel I have got it down pat. All I need to do now is expand on my collection.
Aloe Vera, though technically not a herb, is one of my favourites. With last week's burnt arm proving how good it is to have a pot of aloe on hand.
Aloe should be planted where there is the most sun in the garden. Or grown in a pot, and moved seasonally to take advantage of the sun. Aloe vera love the heat and hate cold, wet, and frosts so if your area is prone to cold and wet winters only grow in pots as aloe roots may rot off during their dormant period.
Aloe Vera is really quite an incredible plant. It is a succulent plant and part of the lily family (Liliaceae), the same family that garlic and onions belong to. Different parts of the plant are used for different effects on the body and Aloe Vera has both internal and external applications.
I am yet to use the plant for internal benefits so I won't comment on those however, externally I love this plant.
Because of aloe’s well-known healing properties for the skin, aloe is one of the primary compounds used in the cosmetic industry. It is a known vulnerary, (meaning it helps heal wounds) and is great for applying topically to burns, abrasions, psoriasis and even to bug bites. Aloe acts as an analgesic, acting to help relieve pain of wounds. It’s feels especially good to cut a stem of aloe, place it in the fridge and rub it on sun burnt skin – the immediate soothing effect feels like an absolute lifesaver. Aloe is also an antipruritic: A substance that relieves or prevents itching. Aloe Vera is an astringent: which causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.
Due to aloe’s high water content (over 99% water) it is a great way to hydrate, moisturize and rejuvenate the skin. Aloe increases the elasticity of the skin making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair. Aloe is an emollient, helping to soften and soothe the skin. It helps supply oxygen to the skin cells, increasing the strength and synthesis of skin tissue and induces improved blood flow to the skin through capillary dilation.
Aloe is disinfectant, anti-biotic, anti-microbial, germicidal, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, anti-fungal and anti-viral: yes I learnt most of these ones though google. But after using aloe for years on burns, cuts and abrasions, I know this natural option is better on my skin, and my kids than any product I can buy at a chemist.
This plant is only three months old, and look how many new suckers it has grown!