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The Goodness of Vetiver & Catawba Grape Vines

The Goodness of Vetiver & Catawba Grape Vines

We are replanting, repotting and pruning with vigour, and two jewels are getting all of our attention… vetiver and catawba grape vines…

Words: Margaret Roberts
Styling and photography: Sandy Roberts

marg and sandy3As one of the most useful plants and soil retainers, vetiver, a tough grass, has an incredible root system and is excellent for retaining soil on a slope grass.

A tea of the fine fragrant roots is taken for burnout, all sorts of upsets, fear, worry, anxiety in all its intruding pressure, depression, pain and uncertainties that our lives seem to be beset with.

The roots are wonderful in the bath tied into a ‘sponge’ and used with soap over aching legs, and to help muscle spasm and tension in the shoulders and neck. Tie the long tough leaves and hang them over open windows, and on a hot night splash them with water to cool the air.

You will find many ways to use this precious grass, and syrups made from the fragrant roots with honey are delicious served with ice and chilled water on a hot day, the way it is done in India – its homeland.

vetiver ready for plantingInterestingly, the exquisitely perfumed roots hold perfume beautifully if dried with a few drops of essential oil of your choice – we love lemon oil and rosemary oil. These give a strong fly- and mosquito-repelling action, and refresh the air strongly.

Foolproof and undemanding to grow, vetiver needs full sun and a slow watering once a week. It is a survivor plant, and more valuable in the garden for preventing wash-away during a big storm than we realize.

We are also planting out young catawba grape vines for their wonderful pergola covering abilities, and their luscious midsummer harvest. Catawba grapes make the best iced lollies and cooldrinks you have ever tasted – just pure juice – unsweetened and untouched with any additives.

Vine leavesThe young vine leaves make delicious wraps for savoury mince and rice cooked in ripened tomatoes, and vine tips and tendrils can be made into wonderful health teas.

Fresh grape juice and the tea made from the young leaves and tips is one of the most widely recorded health boosters for hypertension, poor circulation, high cholesterol, bladder and kidney ailments, menopause – excellent for hot flushes, also to clear toxins, retarding the ageing process, and as a diuretic, and it also has anti-cancer properties.

Now is the time to plant new vines, with a long, slow, twice-weekly watering to get them off to a good start. Give yourself a new cool place in the garden with a shady grape covered pergola.

Recipe: Organic Grape Jelly and Juice

Start with rinsing a large container of freshly picked grapes and removing all storks. Place the grapes in a pot with 1 cup of boiling water to start the steaming process. Simmer until the grapes puff up and they are easy to squash (approximately 15 minutes).

Using a potato masher squash the grapes and then strain, and strain again through a muslin cloth. You will be left with a smooth rich liquid.

catawba grape juice2For the Grape Jelly use

  • 600ml grape juice
  • 1 ½ cups sugar and 2 dessert spoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 lengths of lemon grass leaves

Simmer juice for 10 minutes and then increase the heat to about 105 degrees, and boil. Remove the scum and lemon grass from the top and bottle in well sterilised jars. Seal and use as needed.

For the remaining Grape Juice

Refrigerate and serve with slices of lemon and ice when desired. The juice lasts up to 1 week in the fridge and will keep for 3 months in the freezer.

An excellent sweet catawba grape makes the best juice for drinking and for jelly. It’s flavour is unforgettable.

grape jelly

Read more about vetiver and other powerhouse grasses here.

For more info

Note: Margaret Roberts has a fine selection of plants and seeds available from her nursery. Her shop stocks a wide variety of their health products that can be posted to you.

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