Giving Medicine to Soil and Plants might seem quite odd, but many Natural Farmers do just that.
Herbal Plants can be applied to the garden in a number of ways. Through companion and green manure plantings; chopping and dropping fresh or dry herbs onto the soil or compost heap; soaking herbs in water (Weed Tea Recipe); fermenting the leaves of herbs (Luscious Leaf Fertiliser recipe); and tincturing in alcohol.
Some of the common plants used include Comfrey, Nettle, Dandelion, Chives, Lemon Balm, Fennel and Camomile. All contain high levels of nitrogen, iron, calcium and/or phosphorous and some have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Permaculture practitioners will sometimes refer to Camomile as a “Physician Plant” because it has a range of healing properties.
Why not experiment with the above herbal plants and techniques, or simply brew a pot of soothing Camomile Tea (with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties) to share with your plants. (Pictured)
Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN)
This Medicinal recipe is from the Korean Natural Farming (KNF) tradition and has five “herbal” ingredients: Garlic, Ginger, Liquorice Root, Cinnamon Bark, and Angelica Root. All are available quite cheaply from good Asian Grocers (specifically Chinese and Korean Grocers). Each ingredient has its own herbal qualities and many have anti-pathogenic properties. Combined they are a great health tonic for the soil, plants, animals and even human beings.
The recipe is relatively straight forward but it is time consuming and, unlike other Natural Gardening recipes, quite costly due to the high prices of alcohol in Australia. As such it is probably a practice for the more enthusiastic and/or experienced Natural Gardener.
Fresh Herbs: Garlic, Ginger,
Dried Herbs: Liquorice Root, Cinnamon Bark, and
Angelica Root (Angelica Sinensis - Dong Quai)
1.5 Litres of Beer
6 Litres Vodka (or any High Proof Alcohol)
Raw Sugar (6 times the weight of the Ginger)
6 Glass Jars (for tincturing)
6 Glass Bottles of twice the volume of the Jars (for final product)
Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN) Continued
Recipe (Fermentation Process)
Chop all of the dry ingredients into small pieces. Place each dry ingredient in a separate glass jar to fill one tenth of the jar. (Noting you will have two jars of Angelica Root). Half fill each jar with beer. Cover with a paper towel to re-hydrate for 24 hours.
Add enough Raw Sugar to each of the wet ingredients to bring the total volume up to two thirds of the jar. Stir clockwise with a wooden stick or spoon (not metal). Cover with paper towel and ferment for a week in a cool, dark place.
Leaving the skins on, smash up the fresh ingredients separately. Massage in an equal weight of Raw Sugar into each and fill the jars to two thirds (or the same height as the dry ingredients and beer). Typically the Garlic is more voluminous and will need to be pushed down much more firmly than the ginger to ensure relative strengths of each solution. Cover with a paper towel and ferment for a week in a cool, dark place.
Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN) Continued
Recipe (Tincturing Process)
Each of the six jars will now have the same two thirds volume. Fill each with Vodka to the brim - stirring with a wooden stick/spoon as you go to ensure it is well mixed. The Vodka will end the fermentation and begin tincturing the herbs into the solution. Place a lid on each jar to prevent evaporation. Stir daily for 14 days.
Drain each jar separately into its larger storage Bottle, keeping all the solids in the Jar. Return enough liquid from the storage Bottle to fill two-thirds of the Jar. Fill the remaining third of the Jar with fresh Vodka and stir. Stir daily for another 14 days and store both Jars and Bottles in a cool, dark place.
Repeat the above Extraction process a further 4 times, gradually filling the storage bottles. In the 5th and final extraction all the liquid is drained from the Jar. The solids can then be placed in the compost. The finished Tinctures should be stored in a sealed bottle in a cool dark place. Combined them in equal volumes to form OHN as only required.
OHN is diluted (1:1000) for use as a Seed Soak, a Foliage Spray, or a Soil Drench. As the OHN ages it gets stronger and less is required. Korean Natural Farmers also use it for livestock health and as a human medicine too. It certainly assists with a sore throat.