Unusual Vegetable Plants


Aloe Vera

Of course Aloe Vera is not a herb or vegetable and not really a plant that you would grow to eat, but it is well worth growing for it's healing properties. The thick, fleshy leaves, ooze a sticky sap when cut and squeezed that is very soothing for burns and abrasions and also has proven medicinal qualities. Nowadays the juices of this particular Aloe are commercially processed in large quantities and used in many natural health products and healing remedies, both internal and external. The juices are now even used as a component in the production of  new versions of traditional mainstream medicines and treatments in the fight against some of the new "Superbugs," such as M.R.S.A.

Many Cacti and Succulent plants can stand light frosts, because as people in the West now realise, semi deserts and deserts, frequently have night frosts. Why most of these types of plants die outside in the U.K. winters, is not so much the cold, but a combination of cold and wet. Aloe Vera is typical of this category, but will thrive on neglect in the dry modern house as long as it does not get too much strong sun, because this can "burn" its leaves and discolour them. Aloes are of course a succulent, but not a cacti, although most people would call them that. They do have long, thick fleshy leaves which do have sharpish protrusions, but these are not true "Cacti spines" and will not readily detach from the plant and stick in your hand if you rub against them. 

Aloe Vera will grow in any old pot filled with whatever soil you can find and the occasional drink of water. If you want to increase the number of plants that you have they couldn't be easier to propagate, because all you have to do is cut off one or two "Pups" or "Offsets," that regularly grow on larger plants round the base of the stem. Then, let the cut part of the "Offsets" callous over by leaving them on a cool, dull windowsill for a day or two and finally, dib them into a pot of compost. Barely moisten the soil after a week or two, but do not water the cuttings properly until they have rooted and been potted on, or else they might rot.

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