Top 5 Mediterranean Plants
Pick up – eat – heal – for free!
Which are top 5 Mediterranean plants that grow wild and you can easily find it, pick up and take it home from your vacation in Croatia? In this blog post we will single – out plants that you can find at every turn on the Croatian coast. Some of those plants you can grow in you home or terrace very easily and enjoy in their benefits throughout the year – not just on vacation! Read on and discover top 5 Mediterranean plants that you can use as free food, spice or medicine.
There’s lots of useful, healing and tasty plants that grows wild all over Croatia and you can pick it up during all seasons, but we will single out top 5 Mediterranean plants to recommend you. What can be better for your health than plants that grow in the wild? Wild plants grows without any chemical treatment and you can be sure that it abounds with vitamins and minerals. Tastes that makes it are more intense than you can get from any domestic plant. Consciousness about proper nutrition is getting stronger in general, especially in these areas. Why it is so? Croatia is small country with lots of unpolluted nature, most of Croatian inhabitant used to live on country side, preparing or picking their own food. All that groceries were used in cooking, preparing medications or spices.
Knowledge about wild plants, their harvesting and preparation is passed on to generations – the wisdom of our grandmothers – how local people call it, are still living habits in everyday use. Lots of Croatia inhabitants still run a lifestyle that is similar to older generations – slow cooked food, slow lifestyle, lots of physical activities and most of consumed food are grown in their own garden or pick up in a wild. Why don’t you try to take some part of the life style and habits of locals from this area and take it home from your vacation? Take our guidelines and meet some of the most common plants that grows wild and you can find it easily. Here are top 5 Mediterranean plants we singled out for you!
For this article we chose the following plants:
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) – evergreen Mediterranean plant!
Sea dew – if you literally translate it from Latin language name. That means rosemary needs lots of mild wind from the sea that brings moisture. Rosemary is great for meat dishes because of it’s intense taste and smell – its representation in Croatia’s cuisine is great. Lamb or chicken meat are unimaginable without this spice. You will find rosemary in almost every garden or park in Croatian coast – it has, among other things, aesthetic purpose. Want to pick up in a wild? Have a note that it grows near the sea (above rocky beaches – outside the city centers). So, if you decide to go on a wild beach outside resorts or city beach – take a time and pick up some rosemary, you won’t regret!
The benefits of rosemary on your health:
- It stimulates and strengthens the memory and improving concentration.
- Slows down brain aging.
- Good for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, liver and gallbladder complaint.
- Rosemary is also used for gout, cough, headache, high blood pressure.
Growing rosemary indoors:
Growing rosemary indoors is sometimes a tricky thing to do. You must be aware that it needs lots of sunlight, proper pests, enough water and a danger of powdery mildew. How to prevent those troubles? Rosemary needs from six to eight hours of strong direct light to four to six hours of weak, indirect light. What trick can you use to prevent starvation of sunlight? First you need to put it on sunlight diet before you bring it indoors. Several weeks before you plan on bringing the rosemary inside, move the plant to gradually shadier areas of your yard. This will force the rosemary plant to grow leaves that are more efficient at turning light into energy, which will help it cope with weaker indoor light when it moves inside.
Once you move rosemary indoors – put it on the brightest window at home, and if it still not getting enough sunlight – put fluorescent light bulb as close as it is possible. Water practice – make sure that the drainage on the container with the rosemary is excellent. Only water the soil when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. But, that being said, never let the soil dry out completely. In the winter, rosemary plants grow much more slowly and need much less water than they do in the summer.
Other thing you have to be aware of is powdery mildew – best way to drive away powdery mildew on rosemary plants is to increase the air circulation around it. Letting a fan blow on it for a few hours a day or taking it out of more high humidity rooms like the bathroom or kitchen, will help improve the air circulation. Or treat the plant with a fungicide. If your rosemary get pest infection – treat it with organic pesticide – one of the best for it is neem oil – effective, but harmless for pets and humans.
Read more about growing the rosemary indoors on a link: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/grow-rosemary-indoors.htm.
Asparagus (lat. Asparagus acutifolius)
Have you ever considering about visiting Croatia outside of summer season? For example – during the spring time? There’s plenty reason why this is a good idea. First of all, Croatian coast and continental area are wonderful in that time. Sea water is not still warm enough for swimming (only if you are brave enough!) but there’s lots of other things to do or visit, and weather is perfect! On of great activity (traditional) on the coast is picking up asparagus! As soon as spring sun arise – locals among the Croatian coast rushes in forests and coastal areas to find that useful and nutritious plant. Asparagus are growing in the bushes, so you have to walk trough the wood and look around the bushes, be careful because asparagus color can merge with the environment, but as soon as you get some experience it’s get very easy. In early spring you can get kilos of asparagus from your harvest. Locals use it for food, and because of it’s taste you can use in on a million different ways. Most popular meal with asparagus are omlette. Creative chefs adore that plant because of it’s possibilities. You can also grow asparagus at home, but wild asparagus is hard to replace. Also, you can add asparagus in risotto, chicken meet, in salads, or with bacon and eggs.
The benefits of asparagus on your health:
- good for heart and blood system
- reduces cholesterol and high blood pressure
- it helps with chronic fatigue
- helps with asma or stroke
- very powerful diuretic
- helps with detox
- good for liver
Grow asparagus indoors
It’s recommended that you start asparagus seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in mid-February to May under bright lighting. Soil temperatures for seed germination should be between 70-85 degrees F. (21-29 C.). Soak the seeds for a couple of hours, then plant each seed ½ deep in sterile soil in individual 2-inch pots. They should sprout anywhere between 2-8 weeks from planting asparagus seeds. Seedlings are ready to transplant when they are 10-12 weeks old and all danger of frost in your area has passed. Space the transplants 18 inches apart in rows set 3-6 inches apart.
As the plant grows, cover the crown with soil and keep it moist (one inch of water per week). Fertilize in the spring with 1-2 cups of complete organic fertilizer per 10 foot of row and dig in gently. Remember, don’t harvest the plant until its third year; allow the plant to set ferns and redirect its energy back into the plant. Cut the ferns down to 2 inches tall in the late fall. In the plant’s third year, you can begin regularly harvesting the spears. The season usually lasts around 8-12 weeks. Cut the asparagus spears 1-2 inches below the ground and at least 2 inches above the crown using a sharp knife or asparagus harvesting tool.
Read more about growing asparagus at: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/asparagus/planting-asparagus-seed.htm
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle plant we reluctantly meet in nature, but it takes third place in our top 5 Mediterranean plant selection. Why is it so? Nettle is a plant that can irritate your skin if you touch it when it is raw, but on other side can heal you. Nettle is much represented in the kitchen and medicine, but also in manufacturing! Very good fact about the nettle is it’s availability – it grows from spring to autumn on almost every meadows and forests – so it is easy to find it on Croatian coast. But be careful if you decide to pick it up – make sure that your skin is protected. Nettle is delicious grocery – you can make soup of it, or just boil its leaves for eat, but there’s plenty recepies that contains nettle.
The benefits of nettle on your health:
- abounds with iron, calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, formic acid, acetylcholine, sulfur, beta carotene, vitamins a, c and k, flavonoids
- against hair loss
- helps with anemia
- it can help with thyroid disease
Grow netlle indoors:
Nettle is an herbaceous, quick-growing plant – it can grow to a height of approximately 4′. Nettles prefers rich soil with good moisture content and especially favors the edges of streams or nutrient- dense pastures. Nettle seeds are tiny, light dependant germinators that can be started indoors or out. However, select your location carefully as nettles are very hardy and can spread quickly with the right conditions. Nettles can be assisted with stratification, but it is not necessary. To start, tamp the small seeds lightly into the soil or cover with a thin layer of soil (1/4″). If starting indoors, sow in flats in late winter and transplant in early spring. Space plants approximately 8″ apart. If direct sowing, seed in spring and thin as desired and plant rows 1″ apart.
Read more about growing netlle here: http://www.heirloom-organics.com/guide/va/guidetogrowingnettle.html
Dandelion (lat. Taraxacum)
Unpresentable and common yellow flower that you usually passing buy without noticing it, is more useful than you think! On the Croatian coast and in the village you may see the scene of older woman picking up dandelion leaves, don’t be surprised, because dandelion is very useful in kitchen! Specialty of dandelion is in it’s common and unlikely appearance that is in opposition with it’s power. There’s one fariy tail for children that speaks about dandelion as the most ugly flower in the meadow that suddenly turns into the prom queen thanks to its transformation. The same think happens when you transform that flower into fine salad, soup or healing tea or tinctures. Where you can find it? Here in Croatia, we have it in galore. Because of it’s health benefits and availability we put it in our top 5 Mediterranean plants! You can find it in almost every meadow you can see in Croatia. From root to flower, dandelion are highly nutritious plants, loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fell free to take it home.
The benefits of dandelion on your health:
- lower blood pressure
- good for liver
- reduces sugar in blood
- helps in weight loss
- boost immune system
- helps in skin care treatments
- excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins
- contains iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- dandelion root is often dried and consumed as a tea but can also be eaten in its whole form.
Laurel (lat. laurus nobilis)
Very familiar tree in Croatian coast, it is very available so domestic people can often take it for granted! But it’s very useful plant, especially in the kitchen – it is great for soups, goulash and stews. Besides, laurel has symbolic meaning – in Ancient Rome it became a symbol of Victory, and it is also symbol of nymph Dafne – the unhappy Apollo’s love – as poet Ovidie sais. His name is derived from the Latin words laurus, meaning bushwood and nobilis, which means famous. Today, laurel is the most famous as spice for Mediterranean dishes. We put it in our top 5 Mediterranean plants because it’s wide application and availability. If you are spending your vacation in Croatia – you will see the laurel’s trees almost everywhere – fell free to pick up the leaves (unless if it is in someone’s private property or public park). Take it home with you, dry it and us it as a spice in soups or goulash. Enjoy!
The benefits of laurel on your health:
- eliminates bad cholesterol from cardiovascular system
- aids in managing diabetes
- improves health of hair follicles
- helps to alleviate various respiratory conditions
- facilitates efficient digestion and nutrient intake
- helps to lower levels of stress hormones in body
- aids in reducing inflammation caused by sore joints and arthritis
Grow Laurel indoors
This plant is the easiest herb to grow indoors. You can place it in sun or partial shade or under a fluorescent lamp. Its growth is very slow, but it does grow, and it seems indifferent to the entire indoor temperature range, from 34˚ to 95˚F (1 to 35˚C). By bringing your bay laurel indoors every fall and putting it back outdoors every summer (it can stay outdoors all year in zones 8 to 11), it will gradually become a fairly sizeable shrub or even a small tree, but that will take decades.
These were top 5 Mediterranean plants from our choice. Don’t leave Croatia without taking with you one of those plants. What can make your dish taste better than fresh, wild plant that grows on free land far from city centers? If you find this article useful, share it with your friends and come back on our site to read more interesting posts!