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Oats to the Rescue

Oats To The Rescue

Oats (Avena sativa) are a pretty mild mannered plant. They’ve been around as a food for thousands of years. They’re easy to grow, delicious to eat, and  simple to store.

I use them as powerful medicine in the clinic. They blend well with other nerve healing plants. People with digestive issues, unless they have celiac disease, heal gently with oats either as a tincture or simply by adding cooked oats to their morning routine.

With so many uses, it’s obvious why I decided to grow oats. When making tincture, you need fresh oats in the stage in which the seed exudes a milky substance when squeezed.

My friend had a new garden spot he was trying to convert from its former life as an unmanaged lawn. He was brand new to gardening. I was excited about helping him with this project. I dug out the blackberry but the real dilemna was the morning glory. It peppered the ground menacingly.  All it took was leaving just a short tip of a root behind and the next week, a new morning glory tendril snaked its way towards my lettuce seedlings.

My friend was happy to see the radishes pop out of the ground and watch the peas stretch across the bamboo pole teepee but the weeds were daunting. I could pull the dandelions and serve them with lunch. I could harvest the plantain to soak them in witch hazel for liniment. The morning glory? I had to do something about the morning glory.

Morning Glory Tendril

Morning Glory Tendril

To be honest, I had no idea how to solve the problem. The garden was already planted by the time I noticed the morning glory returning. I would not use herbicides and hand weeding was barely making a dent. Even pulling the morning glory was a problem. If I didn’t bleach the plants in the sun for a few days on a tarp, they would just reseed in the compost. They’re tough.

It was then when I noticed the oat patch I’d planted very early in the season was ready to pullout. The seed heads were milky when I squished them. Perfect for medicinal use.

The oat plants were choked with morning glory but didn’t seem to mind. I sighed and pulled on a stalk. The oats came up and to my surprise, the morning glory which had wrapped itself around it, popped out of the ground too.

I tried another one with the same result. The oat plants were tough enough to stand up to the young morning glories and serve as a full bodied grip for sucessfully yanking the morning glory vine and roots.

That same day, I planted more oats amid the other beds. Later in the season, the second harvest of oats were a little disapointing in quality as they were planted during the hot season but the satisfaction I had as I dispensed with the morning glories more than made up for it. Now I have one more reason to respect the humble oat.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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