Garden provides natural help for ragweed sniffles

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By Cheryl Steenerson

We are such creatures of habit. We know what we like and this time of year: chili.
Chili with meat or beans, or both. Chili with spaghetti or macaroni, or both. Chili with cheese or onions, or both. When it gets chilly outside, we make chili inside. Casseroles or Crock-Pot soups come next.
It is our habit to make foods that make us feel good. Whether they are good for us is another matter. If we follow Mother Nature we can do both. Certain foods that are abundant at certain times of the year, seem to provide us with all the right vitamins and nutrients that are needed to fight of seasonal ills.
Allergy sufferers have been cursing ragweed for the last several weeks. The dreaded combination of being stopped up, with a runny nose, can just drive you crazy or lead to a sinus infection.
Those who have been taking a tablespoon or two of honey every day may have suffered less, but the broccoli, cauliflower and greens in the garden can do even more. Your daily diet is the key to staying healthy, but allergy sufferers need to focus their diet.
Broccoli is one food that can help. It’s packed with Vitamin C, which helps relieve allergies, and it clears out blocked sinuses. Cauliflower and cabbage will do that, too. Just one cup a day is all you need. Both pumpkins and kale work to unblock sinuses and provide Vitamin A, another allergy-relieving vitamin. The carotenoids in both kale and collard greens eases allergy issues.
Want a natural antihistamine? Try onions and garlic to unstuff the nose and limit inflammation.
A healthy diet all around is everyone’s best protection. Even if you do eat a healthy diet, you might try a multivitamin, too. Together, they serve to protect you from all kinds of things, kind of like mulch.
You should be mulching all of your newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials to protect them from the ills of the harsh winter months. Their roots are new and relatively shallow, making them more susceptible to killing cold. Mulch works like a blanket to keep them warm and if you used anatural mulch, you fertilize a little, too.
With October fast coming to an end, we gardeners are finishing up the last chores of the season. It seems that we start and end the season with weeding, pruning and mulching. Those of you with gardeners on your Christmas shopping list may want to take time now, while things are still fresh in your mind, to jot down a list.
Sure, you could take the easy route and just get a gift card at your local garden center, or you could prove you were listening and get something more specific, like a rare or coveted plant. You can do it by mail order catalogue or online shopping and they can deliver it in the spring.
Browse through those gardening catalogues that got piled in a corner of the living room or go online. Nature Hills Nursery is one of the biggest online garden centers in the Midwest. Shooting Star Nursery offers a huge selection of native Kentucky plants and its practically in our own back yard.
A lot of gardeners are rose fans and Spring Valley Roses and Willoway Nurseries both cater to Midwest gardeners. If you want to get the kids into gardening try a wildflower seedbomb slingshot from Rodales. Gardens Alive has a whole host of great garden products, including some nifty tools. The best part is that you can order your gift to be delivered at the right time and you didn’t even have to wrap it. Just put a card under the tree.
Now, break out the burlap, sheets or whatever you use to protect your tender perennials. The frost is upon us and there is no going back. Then grab the cornbread and crackers and hover over a bowl of hot chile. It may be October, but we can still warm our hearts by simply lifting a spoon. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. She can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.