The Sweet Life Gardener – Aloe Vera

By Alisa Murray

Hey Sweet Lifers! About ten years ago, a neighbor asked me if I would like some aloe vera for my garden. I was barely wet under the ears with my gardening skills, and I planted the tiny little things under a tree out in what is now the Sweet Life Garden. Over the years those “little” aloe sprouts grew and spread until both trees under the arch were covered with large and quite spiky leaves — not particularly good for taking children’s portraits!

I moved all of them, stuffing some into little pots and giving much away to friends. This is a lesson in what not to do with aloe, and the same applies to ginger and mint. Once it’s happy, it likes to spread, and you can forget about killing it.

Aloe Vera’s first recorded written history is about 6,000 years old with ancient carvings in Egypt. That civilization called aloe vera the “plant of immortality” because it can live and bloom without soil. Native Americans called the planet “the wand of heaven” because of its moisturizing qualities and ability to aid in healing the skin. It is most widely called “Lilly of the Desert” because it can survive without much care and in the worst conditions.

Aloe Vera is one of those plants that everybody needs to have in their home. From its leaves you can extract both a juice and a gel. The gel is squeezed from a snapped off leaf and is a fantastic first aid remedy for burns. I can remember covering my sunburnt nose and cheeks with this as a teenager. It has a cooling effect and helps to heal skin quickly. The juice can be taken as a health additive. There has been some research as to its benefits regarding irritable bowel symptoms, building immunity and as a way to regulate hypertension. Aloe Vera is an effective remedy for acne as well.

I recommend having at least one aloe vera plant in a pot either in the window sill or in your patio garden. You will find that it is one of those plants that is easy to gift to family and friends, because even the people who have no clue how to take care of a plant, or time to even learn how, will be successful with it.