My Secret Aloe Vera Farm

Aloe In The FamilyMany people recognize and value the healing properties that Aloe Vera has for burns, bruises, or insect bites. My personal experience with it has gone much deeper than that, which is not to downplay any healing properties we discover in natural sources in the world while we are on our journey here. For no matter how we slice it, the soothing nature of aloe gel just can’t be beat.

Aloe Vera means “shining bitter truth,” or “always living”. The “bitter” part probably has to do with the taste of the plant, which likely evolved as a means of self-preservation since nothing would possibly want to eat a fresh leaf of aloe, except my spunky hard-core plant killer, Junebug. Speaking of animals, I use the fresh gel topically on my pets for a variety of issues. What works for us works for them.

Junebug plant killer

Junebug loves to stalk plants and will gladly munch on Aloe leaves. Hmmmm…

Aloe Vera is a popular ingredient for use in beauty treatments for skin and hair, and is often a key component in body and face lotions, shampoos and hair conditioners.

Bruising, Sprains, and Chronic Issues

A  couple of my own extreme injuries were healed overnight by applying the fresh gel of the aloe plant straight from the leaf. I twisted my ankle by stepping on a garden hose, which rolled my ankle so that it popped loud enough to wake the dead and make me see stars. With no pain killers in the house I lay  in agony and the only idea that came to me was to get a piece of aloe, cut it open, and smear the gel around my ankle, foot, and lower leg – did that and thankfully passed out for the night. In the morning I had no pain, bruising or swelling, and resumed life as normal.

Long story longer, a couple of months later I twisted the same ankle by stepping on a small rock that rolled just enough to do the deed. Same stars, same agony, only this time I wasted no time applying the fresh gel from a small leaf and the next morning it was all good! I really feel I needed this second sprain to actually believe the healing power I experienced, and am grateful it verified it for me. No pain, no gain, right?

Just for the record, I will remove the lowest leaf from the plant, and cut off the size I think I need and then slice it down the side so it opens like a small book. Then place it on the area that needs help. Store the rest of the leaf in a baggie in the fridge. Use is or lose it! They will mold if stored too long.

More aloe

My family just keeps growing and growing.

Next major injuries revolved around a new puppy. Playing ball with Shaba is fun, but one day I reached for the ball in her mouth just as she jumped towards me and on the way down her eye tooth sunk into my forefinger and did a fine job of filleting it open. I’m sure my fingerprints are forever changed, but that is just between us.

Baby Shaba Allgood

Shaba helped alter my fingerprints – woof woof

After cleaning the wound I cut a piece of aloe big enough to cover the injury, slit the piece open, laid it flesh side down, wrapped it in gauze, and sealed the deal with enough body tape to keep everything in place and left it on for nearly 2 days. Aloe has antibacterial properties and also numbs or simply dissipates pain.

Two days later I carefully removed the dressing and was amazed at how good it looked. At that point I clipped off the dead skin as close as I could to the live skin because it was not going to re-attach itself to my finger. Yep. Fingerprint was gone! The new skin was back without a scab, and the only issue I had was waiting for the nerves to calm down.

I once had a giant black bruise on my wrist and opened a large piece of leaf, laid it on the bruise, and wrapped it up. By the next day the bruise had nearly vanished except for the outer rim that had not been covered by the gel; it was still jet black.

Okay – this is going to be a tough sell – but my right rotator cuff was torn, which is dreadful at any age, and I started taping big pieces of open aloe on the shoulder and soon discovered the pain and throbbing stopped. After a few weeks I had full range of motion again. This isn’t to say I’m going to overuse or push it, but not having to have that surgery is awesome. Blame it on the Bossa Nova, or the plant of love.

My personal feelings are that the 98% pure aloe gel products sold in plastic squeeze bottles are not the same as the miraculous qualities we get from the source or plant itself. Just a few experiences with fresh aloe gel have been enough to convince me that one can never have enough on hand.

Mom and Son Aloe

Mommy Aloe with babies sitting in a pot with a big offspring sporting 2-foot-long leaves

Growing  Your Own Aloe Barbadensis

I have read there are nearly 250 varieties of aloe but the best one for medicinal purposes is Aloe Barbadensis, also known as Aloe Vera. I found a couple of small organic plants at a box store and brought them home. The initial investment was under $8.00. Moving right along.

Their new home had one East facing window that gave these kids great morning light and fairly decent light throughout the rest of the day. I have discovered that the plants like some sun, but not scorching all day long.

Mother Plant

Mommy delivers about 14 babies at a time. They hug her. Feel the love!

The right soil is critical, and I use one developed for cactus and other succulents. Water is a touchy subject for these hearty plants, and too little water is always better because too much H2O can actually drown the plants through their roots. In the winter it is best to cut back and increase watering over the spring with good drenching in the summer. When it is time to repot, better to go broader and not deeper, as their roots spread out and not down.

Seeing a new baby plant poke out of the soil makes me want to send out announcements. Instead, I just post pics and share the plants and leaves. Mommy is only about 4-5″ tall. This little lady loves bringing new life into the world, and has delivered about 40 babies in the last year or so. The extended family has about 120 plants, with 30 babies currently waiting to be transplanted when they are at least 2 inches tall.

Transplanting Aloe

Mommy and babies are removed from the pot but still touching to avoid separation anxiety. They will be planted in 3-4 days.

I carefully removed the family from the container, then gently snipped the cord that binds the babies to their mother. They rest in a shady spot for a few days so the cuts can heal and seal; planting them too soon could lead to an infection through the soil or water.

aloe family

Mommy still keeps watch over her kids.

I put Mommy back in her original 2.25″ pot with fresh soil. The babies will go in a 9-hole starter planter, doubled up on the smaller ones because there are 14 babies. The cactus soil is somewhat moist so I wait to water for a couple of days then spray the soil a little, finally giving everyone a good drink of water.  This family is chill.

In the summertime the  plan is to put everyone outdoors with limited direct sun, and transplant the ones that need a bigger space with the hope of getting some big kids out of the deal. I suspect Super Mom will stay small but mighty. Happy gardening! Love is the Answer …

Ps. If you have had an experience with Aloe that you want to share – please share! Thank you.

All Images © Carmen Allgood 2016

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