Every canning season I’m happy that we have quite few aloe vera plants on our property. Why? Because I always burn myself at some point in the canning season. I try to be careful but it just happens.
I believe no home should be without an aloe vera plant. In fact, I often give aloe vera as a housewarming gift, it’s a great gift…useful and doesn’t clutter.
Planting Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera can be planted by divisions or transplants. If it’s being planted outside, plant it during the spring or fall. If it’s being planted inside it doesn’t matter when it’s planted. Aloe Vera needs to be planted in well draining soil as it can become waterlogged very easily. Their roots are pretty shallow so when it’s time to transplant chose a wider pot not a deeper pot. Over time “baby” plants will form at the base of the Aloe Vera. These can be removed and planted in another container to start a new plant.
Enemies of Aloe Vera
Too much water is THE enemy of aloe vera. When it get too much water they are susceptible to root rot, soft rot, fungal stem, and leaf rot. Aloe Vera can sunburn if it’s moved to full sun from indoors or a shady area. I’ve never had aloe vera that was planted in the ground get sunburned but I have had aloe vera that is planted in pots get sunburned. When that happens, I just give it some water and move the pot to a shady area. It will recover in a few days to a week.
Harvesting Aloe Vera
You can harvest aloe vera as needed. Just take a knife or a pair of scissors and cut a small portion of a leaf off. You don’t need a full leaf for most uses. To open the leaf, cut it lengthwise to expose the gel.
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Culinary and Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera
The flowers are edible. Pick and eat before they fully open. We’ve never eaten the flowers but it’s nice to know we can if we ever need to.
The leaves are also edible and actually have two parts; the latex and the gel. When you skin an aloe vera leaf you’ll see some yellow juice right under the skin. This is called the latex and some people are allergic to it. The latex can be used to help with constipation but it shouldn’t be used regularly as it can become habit forming.
The gel is also edible and has many nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, E and several B vitamins, minerals such as calcium, sodium, iron and magnesium, and fatty acids. The gel is used to help with digestion, support the immune system, lower blood sugar and help with chronic inflammation. However, just like any other medicinal herb there are people who should not be taking alone vera internally. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, have diabetes or kidney problems, or are under 12 you should not use aloe vera internally.
Aloe Vera is most commonly used on burns but it’s also good for insect bites, sunburns, poison ivy and other rashes and skin abrasions.
A few years ago a friend offered me an overgrown pot of aloe vera, it was actually busting the pot. I took all the plants out of the pot and planted them all around our property. Now we have hundreds of plants and I’m in the process of thinning them out and giving them away. If you are a newsletter subscriber, be sure to read last Saturday’s newsletter for a special offer just for you.
Do you grow aloe vera? Feel free to share any tips with us in the comments.