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Medicinal Plants of Jamaica With AA Home Gardening

►Time Stamps:

0:00 Introduction

2:20 Tips for Beginners

4:30 Finding Jamaican Ingredients in stores

5:49 Pepper Cayenne, Scoth Bonnet

8:10 Thyme, Scallion

11:00 Cuban Oregano, Mexican Mint

12:50 Ginger

17:05 Garlic

18:05 Growing Tropical Plants in Containers

22:18 Lemongrass

24:25 Turmeric

Her Healthy Home:

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome. I am here with AA Home Gardening and we're going to be talking about traditional medicinal plants of Jamaica. If you haven't heard about her channel, I'm going to give her a little time to talk about her channel; how it came about, her inspiration and what we can find on her channel.

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Thank you so much for the invitation and everything guys. I'm Ann-Marie from AA Home

Gardening, and my inspiration to start YouTube actually came from my eldest son, because I

always do gardening, but I don't like social media. He was the one who encouraged me to start

YouTube to share all the love of gardening with you guys, and as a Jamaican, even though I'm in

the UK, I try to grow tropical Jamaican things. I'm trying to grow yam, and I also I grow sugar

cane; which is doing really well this year. I also grow all the herbs so that I can go straight to my

garden and then to the kitchen. That's how I started going online with the garden; it was because

of my big son.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, awesome, what growing zone are you in now?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Equivalent to the US, it’s 8B.

Her Healthy Home:

What plants do you find does well and which ones don't work as well?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Traditional brassicas, because I'm in the UK, so the cabbages, kales, etc., does well. The problem

is, sometimes we have good summers, and sometimes we'e not guaranteed a summer in the UK,

it's not like you guys where summer is summer, and winter is winter. We don't have that

differentiation, therefore, we could have a good summer where sweet corn would do really well,

potatoes would do really well and if you're fortunate you can have sweet potatoes, but most times you have to have a covering, a greenhouse or a polytunnel to grow certain crops. However, anything in the Brassica family grows super well in the UK.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, do you have any tips for beginner gardeners, especially if they want to grow more tropical


Guest AA Home Gardening:

Yes, start with one; find out what you like more, because living in a cold region there are a lot of

pest issues, and you have to try to keep the plant warm in the winter months. Therefore, I will

start off with just one, for me, I love sugar cane; I don't think there's anything as nice as a sugar

cane. I started growing that one, and the problem is they have to grow in containers because you have to move it for protection in the winter. Therefore, start with something low and the thing is you have to be open minded for disappointments because we'e growing it out of its comfort zone and we have to learn as we go along. For example, the first time I tried sugar cane, it died midway in the winter; it didn't make it through the winter. Yes, I was disappointed, but I realized what I did wrong, so I did more research. Sometimes you should change the container from a plastic pot to a terracotta, which holds the heat and the excess moisture and water and this makes it much better...Therefore try with the main thing that you love and be patient because it does take much longer than if you're in a tropical country. For things like guinep; I grow guinep here and it takes time to germinate, even though it would be something that grows quickly in Jamaica because within a week or a week and a half you will see movement there. Whereas sometime over here it can take up to a month, so all you need is patience.

Her Healthy Home:

Yes, I love that tip about patience, the garden teaches you to be flexible, so you might try

something that should not work but it works and so yes, it works differently for every

person...When you want to find some of your traditional ingredients, do you have a hard time?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

It depends on where in the UK that you are located because if you go to some parts in London,

you have a variety of black Caribbean people. Therefore, you will find that some of the

supermarkets will cater for some of the ground produce, and if you go further north to places like England, they don't really have much ethnic people there, therefore you will find that it's harder to source your food. And because of this wherever I live I make sure that if I have to go once a month or whenever, I source out where I can get my produce because I have to get my Jamaican produce, especially my seasoning to make sure my food tastes how it should taste.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, I know in the US we have some ethnic aisles or ethnic grocery stores, do you have those


Guest AA Home Gardening:

We do have it but sometimes it's so tiny, it's just one shelf, and that's it. If you're in the bigger

cities then you will probably be able to find an entire aisle. However, if you're further out

sometimes you'll get one shelf and sometimes it's so minimal that if you go midweek there's



Her Healthy Home:

Okay, so it's a hit or a miss, and that's why you like to grow some of your favorite plants and I'm

so glad you have some of them to show us. Which one do you want to start with first?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

I want to start with my peppers.

Her Healthy Home:


Guest AA Home Gardening:

This is a traditional Cayenne pepper, but this is way tinier, they are tiny red peppers that are

ready to be harvested. And In our Jamaican culture we always use scotch bonnet pepper, so onceyou mention rice and peas or red peas soup, we are going to talk about this pepper. It's nice and it has a beautiful flavor, and we also grow the bird eye pepper in Jamaica as well.

The Cayenne pepper has more health benefits and because of this I use the cayenne pepper instead of the original scotch bonnet pepper...The cayenne pepper helps with the digestive system and it actually has a nice flavor as well. When making your soup, you can put the cayenne pepper in itand you don't have to cut it for the seeds to get super-hot; boil it off and then you will get the flavor and everything out of it. It helps with pain relief, you can use it to season your food, it helps with your digestive system, and apparently, it's good for weight loss, however, I haven't seen that as yet.

Therefore, the cayenne pepper is really good, and we Jamaicans love pepper in

our food. It doesn't matter what we're cooking, we add pepper, and the only exception to that is

probably porridge. In whatever we're cooking we like the heat, and in the Jamaican tradition we

have curry goat or jerk chicken, and the pepper has to be hot in them.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, do you keep the seeds inside when you use them?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Yes, I like the seeds.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, do you usually chop it up?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Yes, I have a mortar to crush it up or you could blend everything. However, if I'm making

anything for the kids, for example, I will sauté the onions to get the flavor and then take them

out. I do the same with the peppers because I don't want it to be too hot for the kids. For your

portion of food you can cut up some on top of your meal.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, that sounds good, and which one is hotter? Is it the scotch bonnet or the cayenne pepper?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

They both have different kicks; for the scotch bonnet pepper, you will get the heat right away

however, with the cayenne, sometimes you are eating it and you may say, ;It's not hot and then the heat kicks in suddenly. Therefore, the heat in both hits differently.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, awesome, and which herb do you want to talk about next?


Guest AA Home Gardening:

I will speak about these two together because they go together, and they are scallion and thyme. The spring onion is what we call scallion in Jamaica...I am going to share with you a story;

when I came to the UK I went to one of those branded supermarkets, and I was trying to find the spring onion, but I only knew it as escallion. And I was there searching, and couldn't find it, and everyone I asked, they were like, I don't know what scallion is... When we're making our

traditional food, we do use the normal onions, but as Jamaicans we tend to use a lot of scallion

especially if we're frying fish or making rice and peas. What you'd do is you'd basically cut off the root, wash it properly, take off the older leaves, crush everything, put it in the oil to get all the flavoring out and then when it's all brown take it out and add in your seasoned fish and etc...When you're buying it in Jamaica they normally put them together, therefore you will get the scallion and thyme for 1 cost because they go hand in hand.

Her Healthy Home:

Wow, that's really interesting, and I'm glad you're talking about those ingredients because she's shared her recipes for her Jamaican jerk sauce so make sure you check it out at Everyday Herbs.

Guest AA Home Gardening:

The thyme is a seasoning and it's also medicine, it has a refreshing taste. It helps with headaches

and digestion, what you'll do is, take a portion of it and make a nice brew, you can also add a bit

of honey because it helps with the headache. If you are constipated it also helps, therefore it's

really good because it's a medicine and a seasoning.

This other one is called Cuban Oregano, and in Jamaica we sometimes call it the broad leaf mint. When you rub your hand against it, it has a cactus succulent feel to it; and it's quite fat. The aroma is so nice, and we traditionally used in stews and soups, but it's also medicinal. You can take a couple of leaves and make the most refreshing tea, my boys love it! Make the tea and

while you're drinking it because of your senses, the taste and the smell all works together....Then

for the other one, which is called the Mexican mint, it is for headache as well, and they use it in

their peso sauce etc.; this is one of the main ingredients and it tastes very nice....If you do not

have the Cuban Oregano, then you probably can look in one of your local stores and I can

guarantee that you will love it because the smell is really nice.

The other one is ginger, everyone loves ginger! And most of the herbs that I'm talking about are in containers because they're not from the shop. I grow them in my garden because you can get these to buys sometimes, but not all the time. For example, the bird eye pepper; I've never seen it selling here, they have different types of cayenne pepper, however, not the bird eye pepper. The bird eye pepper is different so you can't really get them over here...And as for the ginger, you can use the top while you wait for the rhizomes to develop. Whenever you're feeling a bit nauseous, or you’re not feeling well the ginger tea helps because ginger does wonders for the body...Ginger is also very similar to salt; meaning whenever you're cooking and you add all the seasoning in if there's no salt, it tastes as if something is missing because the salt makes it better.

Ginger is very similar to this, especially if you're making cookies or anything similar to that, the

ginger gives it a nice taste. Also, be aware of most of the ginger that are on the market, because they don't smell like ginger... Ginger is not difficult to grow, after you buy the ginger, leave it out and after it starts to grow out that is called the head start. You can then put this in the compost and it'll start to grow, and while you're waiting you can use it to make a brew for cold or flu etc.

Her Healthy Home:

Larissa says, would you recommend bathing in thyme for headaches as well?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

That's an interesting question actually, however, I have never thought of it. I know that whenever

individuals have different diseases like mumps or measles they oftentimes bathe in certain herbs

to soothe the skin. However, I cannot see where it';ll be an issue, but I've never done it, nor have I done any research around it, but I think the aroma from the steaming of the bath definitely will

help with the headache. I don't know if the thyme is what contributes to the relief of the

headache, however having a nice relaxing bath definitely helps.

Her Healthy Home:

Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking too, or you can also do a face steam because that's really

good as well. And sometimes they even do foot soaks to relieve the pressure from your head.

Guest AA Home Gardening:

You can also add some Epsom salt to the bath; it does wonders.

Her Healthy Home:

Yes, so which one are you going to talk about next?


Guest AA Home Gardening:

Garlic, everyone uses garlic, however, most people do not like to handle the garlic so they

probably buy the one that's pre-prepared...Normally when people start to prepare their dishes

most times they sauté the onions, and then garlic etc., however, the garlic is a natural immune

system booster. You can have garlic tea on its own with a bit of honey, however, it is an acquired

taste, and you can also blend it with some turmeric and ginger. You can make a brew with it or

you can make a type of concussion by blending them up if you don't want to boil them to keep itand take a teaspoon or tablespoon daily to keep your system going.

We don't grow a lot of garlic in Jamaica because the garlic normally requires the cooler seasons

to grow, however, what we do in Jamaica to mimic that scenario is to put the garlic in the fridge.

And ideally, we let it start sprouting in the fridge, and then we move it to the garden so that we

can grow our garlic in the tropical. Jamaica is hot all year long, and it's only in the December

period that we';ll get some cool breeze but it's still hot. Despite this we use a lot of garlic and we

do grow our garlic in Jamaica as well.

Her Healthy Home:

Is there a certain reason why you mostly grow in containers? Is it for the watering, the soil or do

you just prefer to grow in pots?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

There are both pros and cons for growing in pots; however, for all of my tropical plants I don't

have a choice because I have to move them to covering when winter comes. I have more

challenges whilst doing it because there are a lot of insects, and the plant is in a compact

environment but it would like to be free from restrictions. And then when I take them indoors in

the winter, the environment is a bit too humid, too dry, or a lot of different things going against

it. Therefore, there are a lot of challenges that I have experienced whilst growing plants in

containers, but I don't have a choice because plants like my soursop are truly tropical plants. And it's the same for plants like sugar cane, yam, dasheen, and coco; I grow them in containers then I move them indoor for winter. Some of the other plants that have been grown in containers were done because previously the space was too small and I wanted to put a lot of things in the garden. Therefore, I had to put them in containers, and put some on the patio area, the walking area etc., however, I do grow some in the garden as well.

Her Healthy Home:

Do you have a polytunnel as well?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Yes, but previously I didn't have any; for some years when we had the frost really late in my

zone, in the first week of May frost will be finished, however, sometimes at the end of May we

still get frost. Therefore, what I did before I got the polytunnel was to get the normal bin liners,

watch the weather, and if frost was predicted I would take the black bin liner and cover the area

that they are in to mimic a greenhouse scenario and that will protect the plants from the frost.

Her Healthy Home:

Selah has a question, are you using the five gallon container?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

I use containers of every size, whether it is the 5 gallon, 10 gallon or even smaller ones. The

containers I use are dependent on the plants, for example, the lemon grass, which I will be

speaking on next. It doesn't have a massive root mass that needs space; therefore it doesn't mind being restricted.

I can grow it in smaller containers because I normally grow it per season,

however, this year I'm going to over winter it in order to give it a head start for next year. If I'm

successful, next year I will put it in a bigger container for the length of time. So, because most of the things are seasonal I grow them in smaller containers, however, things that grow throughout the year I put them in bigger containers. For example, my sugar cane is in a bigger container because when you harvest them, there are always new shoots coming up and the harvest staggers and continues. Therefore, I put those in bigger containers, and those containers are probably 15 gallons.

And as for the lemongrass, it looks like the sugar cane but it's not, and it also has sharp edges

like the sugar cane. Therefore, you have to careful of how you rub your hands against the leaves.

It's similar to the Cuban Oregano in the sense that the smell is so refreshing. Therefore if you're

making a vegetable stir fry take a bundle and crush it up to release the fragrance, then put it in.

And then even at the end of the same dish you can take some and make a brew with it; the tea is so nice. If you go to Thai restaurants they normally have lemon grass on the menu, and you can use it as a mosquito repellent as well. In Jamaica we have a lot of mosquitos, and as you know, sometimes we don't want to put the chemicals on our skin to get rid of the mosquitoes.

The lemongrass is natural, therefore, you can use the lemon grass at the border of the house because the mosquitoes don't like it. And it's also good for relieving pain, therefore, if you're having joint pain you can make you can drink it as it is or you can put a bit of honey in it and it helps with the pain.

Also, it can help if you have swollen legs, however, you have to be careful because you are

not a doctor and usually there may be underlining conditions. However, this helps with swelling,

and regulating the blood pressure; Mother Nature has given us so many things to help us.

And as for the turmeric, it's similar to the ginger plant; however, it has a broader leaf. We don't

tend to get turmeric powder in the west; over here we can get turmeric powder through the

sprinkler in our dishes. We normally get the rhizome, just like the ginger and then we use a

mortar to crush it up and add it to our dishes. You can also crush it first, sift it, and then use the

juice. Most people would know that it is good for inflammation, it could be inflammation of the

joint, muscles, or wherever, the turmeric is very good. You can make turmeric milk as well, and

if you're making things like the Jamaican patty and you want a nice yellowish color, you don't have to use food coloring, you can use the turmeric powder.

I also like the taste of it; I put it in my stew, in my soup and so many other things because I know

it's also helping my digestive system as well. In Jamaica we get the turmeric the best way

because we get the fresh ones, not the powdered one that's over here. Therefore, I grow my ownas well and then I can pick and harvest whenever I want it.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, and as for your mortar and pestle, do you use a wooden one or do you use a stainless steel one? Which do you prefer?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

I use a stone; a proper one, for example, this week I was making gingerbread man for my boys.

And the boys don't like the stringy bits in the ginger, so I took it, scraped it, washed it, placed it in the mortar, and crush it properly, then after I take the sieve to get the juice to make the

gingerbread man. Therefore, I use the proper one, which is super heavy, and it is huge. And I

also use it for crushing the pimento seeds. I don't have the pimento tree, but I cannot go without talking about it, because we use it in our jerk. Some people call it all spice, however, it is also called pimento. When you get it in the powdered form, it doesn't even smell like the pimento, because the smell is so vague. Therefore, you should get the seeds, then grind it and it's much better to use than the powdered one because most of these seasonings, when they are processed into powder the strength of it goes very quickly.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, and most of these seasonings that you use are 100% fresh right?

Guest AA Home Gardening:

Yes, I have oregano, basil, parsley, and I have seasonings in different rows in the garden, so

wherever I go there is a seasoning. There's ginger, turmeric, mint, pepper, you name it, and it is

in the garden.

Her Healthy Home:

Okay, thank you so much for sharing your expertise, the proper way to grind up our seasonings

and how to use them. Thank you everybody for joining and we'll see you guys in the next one.