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Shipards Herb Farm - Newsletter Sep 2011

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First of all, apologies that this Newsletter is late. We are all busy getting ready and preparing for the last course on 'Self-Sufficiency', with both days now fully booked out.

Isabell's course will be covering edible weeds, bush tucker, seed storage, sprouting seeds, valuable medicinal herbs and much more.
We hope that everyone who attends takes home lots of knowledge and leaves feeling inspired to be more self-sufficient and with a new appreciation of plants and their gardens.

Also keeping us busy, we are preparing to bring out another small booklet on the Top Medicinal Herbs, hopefully to be released next year; and looking after plants, that need extra care in winter.

We'd like to thank all our Volunteer helpers and Lets workers, who help us with plant maintenance and garden work.

Thankyou so much to all who filled out a survey last Newsletter. The feedback was most appreciated. Following this, we will be looking at topics and issues from your suggestions. Thank you for your help to improve our newsletter.

Download printable PDF version of this newsletter.

Common garden weeds that are valuable to know about and use

Chickweed (Stellaria media) a common annual weed in gardens, roadsides and parks. Thrives in the cooler months and in shade, as a sprawling ground cover.
In some areas of Europe, chickweed is encouraged in orchards, as it is believed to increase yields of fruit. For this reason, it was planted in vineyards on the Rhine. The flavour of young leaves could be considered as a cross between comfrey and lettuce; so, perhaps we could say it is a chlorophyll fix! Chickweed has a protein content of 15-20%. Leaves are rich in iron, and a good source of calcium, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, magnesium, manganese, silicon, zinc, and vitamin C (analysis has found between 150-350mg per 100g of leaves).

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) might be a weed you have been pulling out of your garden. It has powerful healing potential. Please make sure you are eating true dandelion, as there are look-alike plants. Be careful to not mistake it for look a-like plant called Flatweed. For details of description of both these weeds, refer to the Herb Book.
Dandelion is an outstanding liver cleanser and strengthener. It is a traditional folk remedy to heal and tone up the liver, also a herb to relieve food allergies and aid digestion, as well as repairing damage that may have been caused by drugs, chemicals, alcohol, and infections conditions, like hepatitis.

Nettle (Urtica dioica and Urtica urens) yes, both these species are valuable herbs for well-being. You may just have one of the species growing as a wild weed in your area. Nettle contains germanium, is 20% protein and has a range of antioxidants and polysacharides. Polysacharides, researchers indicate, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and reduces the stickiness of platelets making it harder for them to build up in artery walls.
Nettle is valuable for us, as it is rich in chlorophyll, and iron, essentials for blood building, oxygen transfer, healthy bones and skin, and synthesis of neuro-transmitters, which are chemicals located and released in the brain, to allow an impulse from one nerve cell to pass to another nerve cell, thus allowing the body to perform at its best. Nettle has often been a survival food, for people in times of hardship.

Plantain Broad leafed (Plantago major) perennial 30-60cm tall, a rosette of wide leaves 4-10cm long, with prominent longitudinal veins. Plants send up a number of fine leafless stems, each with a terminal spike of small, inconspicuous, green-white flowers, followed by small seed capsules containing hundreds of very fine brown seeds. Add leaves to green drink smoothies with other herbs and fruit juice like pineapple. Use leave raw, cooked, and for many therapeutic benefits.

Purslane also called Pigweed (Portulaca oleracea) Purslane was growing in Australia before white man came. Early explorers observed Indigenous Australians collecting the tiny black seeds to mix with water and cook in hot ashes. The flavour of the seed is much like linseed. An annual plant and extremely hardy, purslane grows as a thick, mat-like ground cover with succulent stems, often with a red tinge; oval, succulent leaves, 1-3cm long. Each plant has potential to produce thousands of seeds and it is said that their germination power can last seven years, plus. Leaves are an excellent source of Essential Fatty Acids; eat raw and cooked in stir-fries, etc. Purslane grows without any help in sun or shade, in any soil and climate, without fertiliser or water.

NOTE: Before eating weeds, it is your responsibility to positively identify any plant material. Not all weeds are edible.

Ways to eat weeds:

The leaves of many weeds can be eaten raw. Nibble on leaves when in the garden or add to a tossed salad, tuck in a sandwich, make into a smoothie, add to a pesto, or use as a garnish on a meal. Add leaves to a cup of boiling water in a teapot, and add other herbs to give aroma and flavouring, like lemon grass or spearmint. Stir, steep a few minutes, drink, and enjoy the health promoting benefits.

Weeds also have many therapeutic benefits.
Here, I have shared details of a few common edible weeds. Some of our edible weeds are native plants, which have been spread by man or animals, while others are weeds or herbs that were introduced by early settlers, knowingly, or as seeds that had a free ride on clothes or shoes. If you wish to discover more about edible weeds in your particular area, seek out an old-timer in your neighbourhood, or join a Permaculture or Organic growers group.

So good sprouts! The benefits are infinite

A colourful snack of starfruit slices, sunflower lettuce, mung bean sprouts and nasturtium flowers.
starfruit slices, sunflower lettuce, mung bean sprouts and nasturtium flowers
Sprouts are very special. Sprouts are live food, comprising essential and balanced nutrients for "alive" people, as life proceeds from life. Life and health go together. Good health is precious. Recently, a lass I was speaking with, summed it up so well, saying, "Our body is such an exquisite gift". What a wonderful and thought provoking statement. Every person needs to work at maintaining health, therefore, we need to learn all we can about nutrients and how the body functions.

sprouting sprouts
Sprouts are preventive medicine. We can know, when we eat sprouts daily, that we are providing building materials for the growth and repair of the body. Our health is very much related to our diet: our choice of foods, determines the quality of our physical wellbeing. Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food". Sprouts literally are super foods to build health and act as a prophylactic from illness. Hippocrates also said, "Each one of the substances of a man's diet acts upon his body and changes it in some way, and upon these changes his whole life depends, whether he be in health, in sickness or convalescence. To be sure, there can be little knowledge, more necessary". And to think: Hippocrates said this, long before fertilisers and chemicals were manufactured, before grains were refined and nutrients removed, and before fast foods were ever conceived!

Getting the Kids involved in the Garden:

levi with sprouts
People need plants, not only do they provide us food, but medicine, timber, energy, and they help to make the air we breathe by producing oxygen and removing many harmful air pollutants. Teaching children how plants grow and the process of a little seed growing into a plant and then producing its own fruit is so important. Children love to see their little plant grow throughout the stages of its life. It is also a good bonding experience between parents and children, and also grandparents could be invited to be involved too, as they have many things to share. By getting children out doors, they are learning a new skill, getting exercise, fresh air and absorbing Vitamin D (which helps with mental development). Gardening is a great hobby and past time for any age. It is interesting to note, that research at the Washington University, indicated we can reduce our stress levels and lower blood pressure, by spending time in the garden. Make your garden a wonderful place of peace where plants flourish.

Remember the saying: "Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a life time." Lets teach our young.

Venus flytrap
Most people just find getting started, to be a bit daunting. Don't rush, enjoy the process. The key, is to first get children intrigued.

Amazing plants that can ignite their interest could include:
Carnivorous Plants- Venus flytrap, Pitcher plants, Sundews, Cobra Lily, Nepenthes, Butterworts. These plants survive and feed by attracting, catching and then eating the bugs and grubs in your garden; you could also put a plant near the garbage bin to help with the fly situation.  Some Plants and animals like fungi, fireflies, glow worms, and some large earthworms can even Glow.

Sensitive Plant
Some plants even move when you touch them, like the Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica), which is a weed found around Australia. It can close its leaves when you touch it, which fascinates children and the 'not so young' too. This plant is helpful for the nervous system. Caution: the stems do have prickles. For the many benefits of this plant refer to "How can I use Herbs in my Daily Life?"

Useful food plants

also called New Zealand Yams
Oxalis tuberosa F. Oxalidaceae
Nutritional value of tubers is considered similar to potatoes. On average, they contain 70-80% moisture, 11-22% carbohydrate, 1% fat, and 9% protein with a balance of essential amino acids (valine and tryptophan are the limiting ones). The carbohydrate is usually rich in sugar and is easy to digest. Some cultivars have been found to contain much lower levels of oxalic acid than potatoes. It is recorded that all levels of oxalic acid found in oca, are far below those of spinach and several other widely-eaten, green vegetables.

Oca tubers are eaten raw and cooked, by steaming, roasting, frying, added to soups, etc. Cooked tubers have a similar flavor to sweet potato. Leaves and stems are eaten raw or cooked.

see the following link for more infomation.

Also called Queensland Arrowroot
Canna edulis Family: Cannaceae
An extremely hardy perennial, shooting from a large purple/red, round rhizome/tuber that can be larger than a clasped fist. Fleshy stalks, up to 1 metre long, shoot from eyes on the rhizome, and large, lush bright green leaves 30-90cm long, unfurl on thick stalks. If planted in rich soil and given regular watering, this plant will grow vigorously, producing lush leaves and stalks and high yields of edible tubers, However, arrowroot will also perform well in poor soils, and dry conditions, and for this reason we should learn to value it as a versatile self-sufficiency and survival food. I encourage every garden to grow arrowroot, for an all year around food source. Arrowroot likes a sunny position, but will also perform well in part shade.

see the following link for more infomation.

Aloe arborescens
Over the last few months we have had many inquiries and orders for aloe leaves to make internationally acclaimed Father Romano Zago's Immune Recipe.

350 grams Aloe arborescens leaves.
500 grams honey
50 ml (8 tablespoons) of red wine, or whisky.

For more information about the plant, the recipe or "Cancer Can be Cured" book see

Note: there are a number of recipes that have been used for making the candelabra tonic, and Isabell's Herb Book also refers to a similar recipe.

*Cleopatra's beauty secret: She was said to bathe in Aloe gel for her smooth, glowing and radiant skin.
In fact, Aloe Vera is used in some countries as a complementary hospital treatment in burn units. 
Aloe Vera is great to apply on skin to relieve the pain of sun burn. 

Kefir and Sprouts
Kefir and SproutsKefir and Sprouts
In the Newsletter questionnaire, a number of people said that they would like to have more information about Kefir, so here we will provide some information.

Kefir (pronounced kee-fur) is easy to grow, but it is not a plant.

Kefir is a culture that provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, valued as a nourishing food, which people take to strengthening the immune system and contribute to well-being.

Kefir provides beneficial bacteria and enzymes to alkalise the mouth and gives probiotic and antibiotic properties. The kefir culture is a fermented living food. It is believed to have originated in a region of the Caucasus Mountains, and has since become a ritual of daily life for thousands of people throughout Europe and the Middle East for over five centuries, and more recently taken to the four corners of the earth, and is now enjoyed by many people world-wide. The kefir culture is purchased, or passed on by friends, and fed fresh milk of cow or goat, and left to ferment at room temperature.

Kefir whey forms after 24 hours or longer and separates from the thick white culture. It can be drained off and drunk, made into smoothies, or used on breakfast cereal. The thick part, the kefir culture, can also be eaten, and has a mild sour flavour, or used in spreads and dips, or in recipes where cream is used, or in baking, etc. Keir is a good starter for sourdough bread. A spread made with the thick culture, dill seeds and chopped onion chives, makes a very tasty treat to have on bread, with cracker biscuits or over a salad. Experiment with other herbs to flavour dips and spreads.

Various researchers in Europe have found that kefir has a higher nutritive value than yoghurt, and it certainly is much easier to make, than yoghurt. Kefir benefits start in the mouth by stimulating the flow of saliva, and increasing digestive juices in the gastrointestinal tract, and then stimulating peristaltic action of the bowel. Many health benefits have been observed by people who take it regularly, including relief from catarrh, chronic fatigue, stomach ulcers, anemia, indigestion and bilious complaints, diarrhea, and also constipation. Kefir is regarded as a nourishing food, and has given relief to people with a range of conditions from high blood pressure, kidney, liver and gall bladder ailments, skin ailments, nervous stress, depression, hyperactivity, attention deficit and sleep disorders, and many other conditions ....

People who generally are not able to tolerate milk, find that kefir can be taken. Kefir helps to stabilise intestinal flora, and say it boosts energy levels.

The word kefir is said to come from a Turkish word 'keif' which means good feeling, that relates the the feeling of wellbeing experienced when using this cultured food.

For more information see How can I use HERBS in my daily life? book or

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions at the Farm:

You may have noticed with all the heavy rain lately that your Sage plants have been looking sad or dying. Grey leaf plants like Sage, Lavender, Curry plants hate too much water especially when they are young. Try to cover or protect these plants or move potted plants in undercover, to protect from heavy showers and long periods of rain. 

Quite a number of herb varieties will grow well in a small space, or in large pots, trough pots, or even in styrofoam boxes. A large yard is not always necessary.

People are often asking if we still have Farm Walks and Tours. Unfortunately no, we do not hold Farm Walks or Tours anymore, and our gardens are not open to the public to wander around. We have not run tours for a while, as life at the Herb Farm is very full, with tending to people who visit the Herb Farm Nursery, answering the phone and taking Postal orders. As we have a large variety of medicinal and culinary herbs, spices, rare edibles, fruits and vegetables, we find this is a big commitment to keep these propagated. Seed saving and many other tasks fill our days.

People are welcome to visit Shipards Herb Farm
at 139 Windsor Road, Nambour, Queensland.
Open Hours: Mon. Tues. Thurs. Sat. 10am - 2pm. 

At the Nursery people are able to browse the potted plants for sale, herbal products, and non-hybrid seeds of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Also available are Isabell Shipard's books and dvds, which have become best sellers.

Your local Community Gardens, may sometimes have talks and lectures by a variety of different people, who have like-minded interests, and a love for gardening. Check them out

Interesting Facts

* A beauty secret: In old folk law, using 'Witch hazel' oil concentrate on the skin can help wrinkles, scars and stretch marks.

* Alehoof was traditionally used for making beer, that's why they called it 'Ale'. They used it until they discovered the plant 'Hops.'

* Fenugreek- seeds are the main ingredients in Traditional Indian Curry-mixed with Turmeric for the yellow colour.

* Pineapple and Spanish moss are related and in the same family.

Basic Hummus Recipe By Jamie Oliver

2 cups dried chick peas (also called Garbanzo Beans), soaked overnight
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup tahini (also called sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to your taste liking
1/2 cup filtered water, plus 1/2 cup or more as needed
sea salt to taste

Rinse the soaked chickpeas well, put in saucepan with 9 cups filtered water, plus 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 2 hours or until the chick peas are soft. As foam rises to the top, skim this off and discard. You may need to add more water as it cooks down.

In a food processor, chop the garlic cloves. Add tahini, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water, process until smooth and well combined.

Add cooked and drained chickpeas and cayenne to the bowl of the food processor with the tahini mixture. Process until well blended while adding additional 1/2 cup or more of water, as needed. Add sea salt to taste, as needed. Once blended, process another minute or so. The extra processing adds air to the hummus, which gives the recipe a light, pleasing texture.

Hummus is great with nearly any chopped vegetable. Add to sandwiches. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or chopped parsley. Experiment with adding chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes to the basic recipe for additional flavour.

Course Reminder Details:

This is a reminder of Isabell Shipard's, Self Sufficiency Course to all who have enrolled. Thank you for your enrolling.

Venue: Hall under St Lukes Lutheran Church, 10 Sydney St., Nambour
(the course is NOT at the Herb Farm)
Time: Hall open from 9.30, for a 10am sharp start, to 3.30 - 4pm.
PARKING can be a problem, please look into this and allow time in advance.

Bring: Your own Lunch, note pad and pen.

You don't need a ticket/receipt; you will be marked off, from your name.


During September - October 2011 the Herb Farm will have specials on some herbs, self-sufficiency and survival food plants, and seeds.
click here to find out more...

And in signing off...

Feel free to print out the newsletter, or forward it on the family and friends, and, they are most welcome to subscribe and become part of our wonderful "herbal family" all around the globe, who enjoy using herbs.

By sharing information about herbs and their special properties, we hold a torch to light another's pathway, and we also illuminate our own way.

Shipards Herb Farm Catalogue for July 2011 is now available,
please click on the following link
Shipards Herb Farm catalogue
We will update the catalogue 2 times a year, usually early January and July.

To view the Catalogue you may need Adobe Reader 8 or higher.
Visit the following link to download the latest free version of Adobe Reader.

May your garden bring much joy, satisfaction and be a beautiful and interesting place, providing mental and physical therapy and a bountiful harvest for health and vitality.

Until next newsletter, Isabell Shipard

For any further information

on herbs and edible plants do have a look at this website, and Isabell's books. You are welcome to contact Isabell Shipard by email

or phone 07 54411101 during Shipards Herb Farm open hours - Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, from 10 am to 2 pm.


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