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Singing Gardener: Try this natural treatment for cracked and dry heels

Plus, info on an easy-to-sow and easy-to-grow annual flower

There’s a proverb that says: Bad for the rider — Good for the abider. So what does that mean? Here’s one explanation. The rider is driving a vehicle on a muddy road with ruts and faces uncertainty ahead. The abider is a farmer whose fertile fields are sufficiently moistened and prepared to produce a good crop.

No doubt you’ve noticed how the price of fresh imported produce, including citrus fruit, continues to increase. Have a non-edible recipe with a twist using lemon halves to share. Did a recent show with Chris the Accordion Guy where he played his original accordion selection he calls: “Twist of Lemon.”

Take a peek at the picture showing the heel of a human foot resting inside half a lemon after the juice had been squeezed out first. Stick with me to learn what it’s all about.

Entries continue to arrive for my dozen tomato seed draws in March. I’m revealing the name here. It’s an heirloom variety called Cosmonaut Volkov and described in Grainews February 12, 2019 issue. Try your luck and mail your name and full return address to:

Singing Gardener tomato seed draws
Grainews, PO Box 9800
1666 Dublin Ave.
Winnipeg, Man. R3C 3K7

Time to pause here a moment and extend another warm welcome to all Grainews readers with a tip o’ the hat. So come along gardeners and listen to my tale, got some words to share on the Singing Gardener Trail — come a yi hi yippee yi hoh.

A song called ‘Lemon Tree’

It was written in the late 1950s. The tune is based on a South American folk song ‘Meu limão, meu limoeiro’ from Brazil and made popular by Brazilian singer Wilson Simonal. Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Roger Whittaker and others recorded the song. In 1965 Trini Lopez recorded the most successful version of “Lemon Tree.” The lyrics compare love to a lemon tree:

“When I was just a lad of 10, my father said to me, come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree. Don’t put your faith in love my boy my father said to me. I fear you’ll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree. Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”

Canadian gardeners know that lemon trees do not survive our outdoor winter climate but they can do well as houseplants and in other surprising places. I do recall hearing about a Saskatoon couple on CBC news a few years back. They jointly developed small, low-light lemon tree plants that thrive indoors on Prairie windowsills. During a span of 16 years the couple finally succeeded in breeding their variety called Centurion lemon. The fruit looks and smells just like any other lemon, grows in clusters and creates the appearance of a lemon bouquet. As many as 30 fruits were produced during a single year, according to the news account. Some delightful-tasting homemade lemonade might well have followed. I have no idea whether aforesaid lemon plants are available for purchase to the public. Perhaps I’ll find out one day and then advise readers in a followup. Well, it has taken all this while to get around to why I’m writing about lemons.

Lemon juice, lemon skin cups – then what?

Cracked and thickened skin on heels can eventually become unpleasant in appearance, uncomfortable and even downright sore. I know this from people telling me so while I worked on their feet during a reflexology session. Yes, I know a lot of us enjoy walking about barefooted outdoors during the good old summertime, picking up vibes and energy from the earth. But — walking about barefooted is one of the culprits that contributes to cracked heels.

A pair of feet supports our entire weight during a lifetime and gets a break when we sleep, sit down, bathe or elevate them. Feet don’t have oil glands as do most other areas of the body. As a result, they lack receiving any natural moisture. Unless moisturizers are applied regularly, feet can be prone to a variety of issues leading to dryness, cracks, thickness or itchy and flaking skin. Yes — I’m sort of a holistic kind of guy. Finding a natural treatment that works is a practical alternate choice, in my opinion. What follows is an easy, inexpensive at-home lemon treatment that’s about as natural as it can get and may go a long way to help restore weathered heels to a more comfortable level again. Your working tools are a basic few and results can be surprising or even beyond expectation.

Lemons have been used for generations as a natural treatment for various ailments due to their medicinal traits, and mild acidity found inside lemon skins can be put to work as a gentle exfoliator to remove dry and dead skin from the heels.

What you need

  • 1 large lemon cut in half and juice squeezed out
  • 1 hand juicer (the kind Grandma used)
  • 1 knife
  • 1 pair of socks

Save the juice for lemonade or stir it into a container of warm water with a touch of Epsom salts added. Use it as a foot soak for 15 minutes at another time. Make certain to leave a thin layer of pulp inside the lemon skins. In other words, don’t scrape out all the pulp. Place the juiced lemon skin halves on both heels, or do them separately. Once applied, heels will feel moist, cool and a bit yucky. You can be seated while reading Grainews, watching TV or feet raised during the procedure. The process itself is straightforward. Set aside a couple of hours for best possible results. Otherwise, you can choose to wear a pair of firm-fitting socks overtop to hold lemon skin cups in place during sleep. You decide whether to treat overnight, or for a couple of hours during the day.

So what’s a human barefoot heel doing inside the skin of half a lemon? Ted reveals the answer and why you may want to try it too.
photo: Ted Meseyton

There’s no hard and fast rule for how long or how often a lemon cup is left on each heel. The great thing about this lemon treatment is that it works on its own without effort on your part. When the lemon halves are removed, you should notice a difference right away. As you wipe off any lemon pulp, you will also notice some sloughing off of dead skin from your heels. Complete the treatment by rubbing in some good-quality moisturizer onto the feet.

Tree mallow (Lavatera trimestris)

Ideal for beginners and a favourite annual flower among many is easy-to-sow and easy-to-grow lavatera. They come in several colours each of which can be direct seeded outdoors once soil has warmed. A packet of Beauty Mix lavatera seeds is a combination of several colours including pure white, rosy pink and red. The name Tree Mallow comes from the fact that plants have a vigorous branching and bushy nature, almost resembling a magnificent hedge-like shrub. Even at end of season they are still loaded with blooms. Perhaps that’s why lavatera plants do so well in cool weather. Direct seeding lavatera outdoors is appropriate, but space individual seeds at least 30 cm (12 inches) apart so seedlings have space to spread and reach their full potential. Otherwise some thinning will be required. Check out seed displays at local garden centres for lavatera.

Hibiscus-like Beauty Mix lavatera flowers up to seven cm (three inches) across appear on multi-branched plants all summer long and well into cooler days of fall.
photo: Courtesy W. H. Perron

Two sources of seeds are as follows. Tree Mallow Beauty Mixture lavatera seeds are available from W.H. Perron & Co., celebrating 90 years as a supplier of seeds and accessories out of (Laval) Montreal; phone toll free 1-800-723-9071, [email protected]. A blend of salmon pink, rose and white colours known as Trimestris lavatera mix is available from Early’s Garden Centre in Saskatoon, phone toll free 1-800-667-1159; [email protected].

About the author

Columnist

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.

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