Permaculture Cottage ~ Healing Herbs and Using Them

Oregano, harvested today and drying by the stove in the kitchen.

These are the flowers of the Oregano plant and are excellent for use as tea, once dried and stored. Oregano tea is good for sore throats and for warding off colds.

The thin rays of the sun on the windowledge this afternoon. It is almost autumnal. Indeed there appears to be an early start to Autumn.

Lavender was harvested as well as Oregano today. This is a bunch of lavender hanging from above the window. The scent is wonderful.

English lavender yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes and cosmetics. I use the oil in many ways, including making my own cleaning sprays and dropping some oil onto the stove to freshen the air.   

Essential oil of lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used in hospitals during World War I to disinfect floors and walls. These extracts are also used as fragrances for bath products.

According to folk wisdom, lavender has many uses. Infusions of lavender soothe and heal insect bites and burns. Bunches of lavender repel insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil soothes headaches. In pillows, lavender seeds and flowers aid sleep and relaxation. An infusion of three flowerheads added to a cup of boiling water soothes and relaxes at bedtime. Lavender oil (or extract of Lavender) heals acne when used diluted 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel; it also treats skin burns and inflammatory conditions.

Lavender can have influence on sleep quality and I often use it to aid sleep, by either sprinkling a few drops of oil on my pillow, or slipping some flower or seed heads inside the actual pillowcase. It can help in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.

Looking through the front window of the cottage, out onto the rainy day and the wet trees…always beautiful. Seven years ago there were no trees here, just rough grass and rushes. Nature is abundant and generous when encouraged gently.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Oregano, Hippocrates and Herbs

The hips of the Rosa Rugosa are yet to turn red.

Rugosa rose is widely used as an ornamental plant. As a seaside plant it is invaluable as it can tolerate the salty wind and storms really well.

The sweetly scented flowers are used to make pot-pourri in Japan and China,  where it has been cultivated for about a thousand years. This grows well here at Bealtaine Cottage.

The other rose growing abundantly here at Bealtaine is the Rosa Canina, or Dog Rose.

During world war two, the shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables was having an adverse effect on the nation’s health,  so the call went out for the collection and distribution of rose hips  from the hedgerows, as they provided the highest home-grown source of Vitamin C.

In response, the government organised a nationwide initiative to collect roadside rose hips which, with the help of the Women’s Institutes, were processed into syrup for babies and children.

Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can often be more flavourful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Factors such as climate, seasons and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present.

The leaves are most often used in Greece to add flavour to Greek salad, and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies many fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles. I grow heaps of this lovely herb and dry it for daily use all the year round. It is a mainstay of my cooking, especially tomato sauces!

Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments.

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. The flowers can be dried and used in tea and as it is a good antiseptic it is useful to stave off colds during the winter.

The easy to grow corm, Crocosmia, this evening at Bealtaine Cottage. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden. However, I welcome invasive flowers…less weeds!They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in Britain as montbretia. Crocosmia are winter-hardy in Ireland. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

It’s hard to believe that this is not a garden flower…but the beautiful herb, Chives. This plant has been flowering since the middle of Spring! Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are the smallest species of the edible onions.

Chives are a commonly used household herb, frequently grown in gardens. In culinary use, chives leaves (straws) are shredded for use as a seasoning for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests.I think they make great border edging plants as well!