Maggie Pope
is a Medical Herbalist

Practising in
Bridgwater, Somerset

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February, 2016

A day tidying at the allotment



The birds have started singing; that means spring is on the way…

Although I want to start sowing the seeds of my medicinal herbs asap, when I went to visit my allotment I was surprised how quickly the weeds have encroached on my growing space. I shouldn’t be surprised as it happens every year. The first thing to do is clear up, basically.

Last week I sorted out my shed which I had abandoned for two reasons.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               1. We had a spate of burglaries on our site and the lock had been forced off my shed and the contents ransacked. I don’t keep any expensive equipment in there, but the thieves took my cute camping stove on which my little kettle whistled when ready to make tea. What they didn’t take they threw around a bit and emptied out boxes of seed which the mice ate. Which brings me to the second thing…                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Mice. Or to be honest it is probably rats, but I don’t want to go there. I found some droppings and a hole made under the door step into my shed. I didn’t want to go in as the creatures may have been lurking, but when the sun shone I felt bold and banged about and pulled out the furniture [I believe in allotment comfort and provide myself with table and chairs and shelves for books and biscuits], dusted and swept like Mole and soon the place was shipshape.

This week I tidied up the greenhouse. Since somebody smashed a side window pushing a wheelbarrow past on the 18″ wide paths the rain and yellow dock had got in. Rows of pots containing dried compost and shrivelled basil plants that I had forgotten about reproached me from the work bench, and the moss-rimmed netting that I had gathered up from the wind last Autumn and stuffed inside the greenhouse to door to ‘keep safe’ lay coiled around my feet. On a rainy day this would be depressing. So I check the weather forecast and only go when expecting sun.

I took a bucket and rubber gloves so I could wash all the pots in hot water, forgetting that my cute little singing kettle couldn’t sing till I replaced the cooker. Oh well. I used cold water, but the sun made the greenhouse hot. Yes, hot. In February.

I patched the broken glass with a sheet of plastic that I was going to make into a cold frame but never got round to it. I pulled up all the yellow dock, spraying seed heads all over the place so it will doubtless come back. I swept the floor, washed down the workbench and arranged all my pots as terracotta or plastic, and graded them due to size. All done.

Now my little domain is waiting for the seed order from to come.

Happy days….

Card Payments

Credit cards, woman holding lots of credit and debit cards. Image shot 09/2010. Exact date unknown.

Just so you know. I can now take card payments; easier for you and easier for me….

Cough Syrup

With the winter still dragging on my patients often ask for some cough medicine. I always have some in stock. Except I moved and lost it all. How can that happen? Well, apart from the possibility of having left a box in the back of the removal van, I have looked in all other places I could think of. My big master bottle of lovingly created cough syrup has vanished.

So then, when a patient asked for a refill I advised her to go and buy some Potter’s Vegetable Cough Remover from Boots. But no, she wanted mine and she would wait for it.

So, I went to my new dispensary and made some. Just like that…

Cough syrup3

So first I boiled up my herbs [I used liquorice root, inula, horehound, mullein and thyme] in water and simmered them covered for 20 minutes. Then when the liquid had cooled I strained the fluid into a measuring jug and pressed the damp herbs to extract all the juice I could get.

Cough syrup 4

Then I returned the liquid to the pan and simmered gently until reduced and added molasses sugar to make a syrup. The sugar was dissolved slowly and then the mix simmered again till a syrupy consistency.

Cough syrup 5

I sterilised all my glass bottles with boiling water and heating in an oven for 10 minutes. The pouring of the sticky thick syrup is always a messy business. I just get on with it now without being too careful and just clean up thoroughly afterwards.

Cough syrup 2

And voila! Especially for my lovely patient who would accept none other, Growing Medicine’s cough mixture:

Cough syrup 1



February 2016
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