Oats (Avena sativa) aren’t just good for making porridge or muesli. It is a remarkable plant that is easy to grow and deliciously good for you in a variety of other ways too.
You will be able to grow a row of oats in the garden at any time throughout summer and winter. Margaret Roberts shares with us some helpful advice…
Dig a row of richly composted soil in full sun. Turn the soil to mix well into the compost. Rake flat, then using the end of the rake, pull open a furrow about 12cm deep. Run a slow hose into the furrow to moisten it thoroughly.
Now sprinkle oats seeds directly into the furrow. Rake over the soil, just enough to cover the seeds. Sprinkle a covering of dry leaves over the seeds to fool the birds, and set a gentle sprinkler over the area to thoroughly moisten the seeds in the furrow.
Keep it well watered for the next two weeks while the new little oat plants push their way through the soil. If it is too crowded, pull up a few sprouts to use in juices, or chop into salads.
Allow the row to mature, watering frequently until the plants are well established. Thereafter, water three times a week or twice weekly. Lessen the time as the oat plant matures to a golden colour. Once it starts to dry off, stop the watering and cut the dry stems for making oat straw tea (see recipe below). Use the dried stems as well as the oat seeds.
You can also try sprouting oat seeds on a tray of wet cotton wool. You can expect them to sprout within about three days. Keep them moist by spritzing the tray with water. Once it’s about 1-2cm long, pull off the hard seed casing and chop up the little sprouts into salads and stir fries.
Health Benefits of Oats
Oats are rich in calcium, vitamins B1, B2, D & E, magnesium, dietary fibre and beta carotene, and are also one of the best treatments of cholesterol. So include oat porridge in your diet (avoid quick cook oats and rather use the old fashioned large oats). You can also use oat flakes soaked in hot water as a cleanser for oily problem skin.
Oats and oat straw tea will release stress, ease depression and panic attacks, ease recurring coughs, and colds and flu. The cooled tea is greatly soothing for sunburn, eczema and psoriasis when used as a spritz spray lotion.
Recipe: Oat Straw Tea
Oat straw tea is able to treat osteoporosis, while fresh young oats contain a vital amount of vitamins and minerals that offer an energy boost, which can be added to health juices.
- ¼–½ a mixed cup of oat seeds and stems, well chopped
- 1 cup of boiling water to be poured over the seeds
- Stir well pressing the pieces of oat stems to release the important minerals contained, which help build bones
- Let it stand for five minutes, strain and sip slowly
- 2 cups a day is recommended for osteoporosis as well as other treatments under your doctor’s guidance
Oats Bath Scrub
Oats mixed with coarse, non iodated sea salt (use the non-instant breakfast oats) makes a wonderful detoxifier and skin-revitalising scrub in the bath. Tie a handful in a facecloth, soak well in the hot water and use as a scrub, especially over the legs and feet, and the skin will feel smooth and soft.
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. Should you at any stage be stuck for fresh botanicals or natural cosmetic bases such as aqueous cream, these can be couriered or posted to you.
Words: Margaret Roberts
Styling and Pictures: Sandy Roberts