Why you need to plant aloe vera this spring
It may seem too early to begin using this after-sun remedy, but now is the time to start growing the medicinal plant.
Words: Nadene Hall
Aloe vera has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. Modern research shows it helps with healing skin wounds.
Studies have found it helps heal redness, and prevent itching and infection on burnt skin and ulcers, and can reduce the length of hospital stays. You can also eat the raw gel or juice it.
1. Ingesting too much aloe can have a laxative effect.
2. Do a skin patch test before using a homemade aloe product as pure aloe can irritate the skin. Run a small amount of aloe gel on the inside of your elbow – if you are sensitive to it, the skin will show signs of irritation within 10 minutes.
3. Carefully harvest aloe and store it in hygienic conditions – see under ‘how to use it’.
– A frost-free, sunny spot in the garden or plant it in a large, deep pot.
– Well-drained soil, with lots of added compost.
– Space 60cm apart in rows 1m+ wide.
– Water during very dry periods in hot weather;
– Rotate beds every year to reduce the chance of root rot.
– Move potted plants outside in warm weather – keep in maximum sunlight.
HOW TO USE IT
Always clean your hands. Use sterilised knives and containers when processing aloe.
On minor wounds: cut a leaf off, dice it into pieces, then use the clear gel that oozes out. Apply a thin layer, or soak bandaging and lay it over the top.
Add to citrus juice: peel the skin, add 2 tbsp of the gel to 1 cup of orange juice, mix well in a blender and drink fresh.
As a skin gel: this can be used on sunburn, insect bites, and other minor skin irritations. However, the recipe is more complex, especially if you want to add preservatives (as fresh gel only lasts about a week before it goes off).