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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Speedwell tea

Whilst trying to find out whether a thick mulch would by likely to kill my speedwell,* I learnt that an infusion of speedwell can be drunk as an alternative to tea, and in herbal medicine, used to have a good reputation as an expectorant for the treatment of chesty coughs, amongst other things (though has fallen out of favour recently, for no apparent reason). As I'm currently suffering from a lingering chesty cough left over from a nasty bout of flu, I thought I'd give it a go.

Speedwell. This one's even flowering.

There are many varieties of speedwell, and I'm pretty sure that the one I've got is Germander Speedwell, or Veronica chamaedris by its latin name. Most information on its use seems to draw on Mrs Grieve's Modern Herbal which says, The Germander Speedwell has a certain amount of astringency, and an infusion of its leaves was at one time famous for coughs, the juice of the fresh plant also, boiled into a syrup with honey, was used for asthma and catarrh. That's what I need!

I picked a handful of shoots and added boiling water to make a tea. I didn't like the taste too much on its own, but with a little honey it was quite nice (I often drink mint tea with honey, too). As for the catarrh, it's hard to be sure, but this seems to be working a lot better than the commercial cough medicine I bought yesterday.


* I didn't manage to find a definitive answer to this question. Advice on eradicating it from lawns (why??) included letting the grass grow long to act as a living mulch and shade out the speedwell. On the other hand, it's also described as an invasive weed that's hard to get rid of, so I suspect it will survive most things. I'll try not to bury it too deeply, in any case. And in case you were wondering, this is related to maintenance of the terrace, which I'll write more about shortly.

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