Growing natural antibiotics and healthy vitamin rich breakfasts

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe practical holistic and self sufficient gardeners living in Spain, who have written several books to share their ideas and experience.

This article reports on two recent events

Growing natural antibiotics

Firstly we spoke to a friend whose immune system has been shattered by long programmes of medications including prescription antibiotics. It got us talking about the many plants growing in the garden that have natural antibiotic properties and how much better it must be to grow them and eat them on a regular basis as part of the normal daily diet and not only when one has something wrong with us. For us this includes using home grown garlic, onions – especially the red skinned ones -, ginger, horseradish, mustard, nasturtiums – eating the leaves flowers and seed pods throughout the year from a semi shaded three square metre raised bed, aubergines, figs, apples and watermelons. And for sure there are others in the diverse range of herbs, vegetables and fruit that we grow and consume here in Spain.

Growing vitamin rich breakfasts

Secondly we recently gave a talk titled ‘Living well from your garden’ to a Costa Blanca U3A (University of the third age) conference focused on ‘ Healthy living in Spain’ . During our talk we mentioned the best home grown produce to fit into ones daily diet and that for us there’s no breakfast prior to gardening that is more gastronomic healthier and economic than a home grown vitamin and antioxidant rich salad (as do Spaniards still eating a Mediterranean style diet) and an egg boiled, fried or as an omelette. There was an immediate audience reaction ‘Salad for breakfast ,ugh and aren’t eggs dangerous!’ We responded in two ways. We first highlighted that English newspapers had just reported that the British Nutrition Foundation now admitted that they had been wrong in suggesting for many years that eggs were dangerous and that their views since 2005 were that ‘Going to work – or gardening – on an egg ‘ was a great idea except for the small number of people with familial hypercholesterolaemia . Then we explained that our salads were not of the lettuce leaf tomato and slice of onion variety and that morning our salad had included nasturtium parsley rocket marjoram red lettuce and young spinach leaves, chopped young garlic stalks and root, sliced spring onions, sprouted radish and broccoli seeds with extra virgin olive oil as a dressing. What we believe to be a fair dose of natural vitamins, minerals and most importantly natural antioxidants and antibiotics. Home grown tomatoes, carrots and shitake mushrooms are added when in season.

Anyone can grow such breakfast salads in a small raised bed or containers even on apartment terraces as well as in the open garden. Our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ demonstrates how easy it is especially in a Mediterranean climate.

And a couple of laying hens take up only a few metres of space and love to feed off the outer leaves of cabbages, broccoli, lettuces and globe artichokes etc..

This is why we included a hen house and run in Part Three Adding interesting features of our book Your Garden in Spain.Last time we travelled from Coroba to Valencia by train our neighbour took out her pet hen from a covered basket and fed it after eating her own lunch. Apparently it lived happily on her apartment terrace in Barcelona. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

© Clodagh and Richard Handscombe March 2009.