Tips on building a garden for a stronger immune system
Lately, I’ve become particularly interested in how to strengthen my immune system – turns out nature’s got a few simple solutions for that.
By Renee Fortune, Lifestyle Content Creator
My Top 3 Immune-Boosting Plants that are Easy to Cultivate
I use sage all the time for so many things that I realised it made total sense to simply grow my own. There are hundreds of varieties of sage but the most common variant is called garden sage. My top tip? Don’t go through the schlep of trying to grow sage from seeds – if you’re not a seasoned plant parent, you may find it to be too difficult. Growing sage from a cutting is relatively easy. Sage loves the sun and grows well in well-drained soil enriched with compost. It’s got amazing antiseptic properties and is great for warding off colds and flu. Also, if like me you believe that the occasional smudge is good for your living environment, sage is a popular go-to.
Also known as purple coneflower, echinacea is a herb that is widely cultivated for its medicinal uses. The leaves, flowers and roots of a number of species of echinacea are used to treat various ailments from the common cold to bacterial infections. These plants become dormant in winter and re-emerge every spring. Echinacea is not as sun-loving as other herbs so growing it in partial afternoon shade is the way to go. Not only are its flowers beautiful and dainty but you can use it to ward off the nasties. A great way to keep it all year round is to dry out the leaves and use it to make herbal tea.
This list would be utterly incomplete if I didn’t mention spinach. My policy is if Pop-Eye swears by it, so do I – well at least that’s how my mom once convinced me to eat it. Spinach is a cool-season vegetable that is rich in vitamins C and K as well as various minerals, plant protein and most importantly, antioxidants. Spinach is best grown in autumn and can tolerate light frost and colder conditions than other vegetables. It can be grown from seed and takes around 6 weeks to cultivate from seed sowing to harvesting. I love using spinach in green smoothies because it is at its healthiest when it is used fresh.
Also fondly referred to as South Africa’s “miracle herb,” buchu grows wildly and abundantly throughout the Cape Floral Kingdom. It has been used by the indigenous Khoisan people for centuries as a remedy for various ailments and to strengthen the immune system, ward off infection and promote a healthy digestive system. Buchu can be planted during autumn, winter and spring in groups of three or five, at least a ruler’s width apart to encourage growth. It can withstand a fair amount of frost and in the rainy season, it will thrive. Once you’ve harvested your buchu, you can dry it out and use it in a tea – it’s a bit of an acquired taste but the benefits are literally endless. Here’s a great buchu blend I discovered.