Growing milky oats is simple and then use the young, green pods to make an infusion; it has a wonderful calming effect on the stressed-mind.
Growing milky oats is not difficult. Plant a seed, water and watch it sprout; and then flower. Within weeks you can enjoy the harvest.
There are two aromas that particularly tickle my fancy. One most of us know; it's the fragrance given off by unrefined oats porridge that is gently boiling on the stove.
A brew of milky oats is similar, but not quite the same; both bring a sense of calm and relaxation.
The other aroma is not known to most folk; the incredible whiff given off by wheat as it is being milled. It's not dissimilar to the fragrance of baking-bread, but also not quite the same.
The immature seeds contain a unique milk juice that is used widely in herbal medicine for a calming medicine when we are upset and anxious.
Harvesting these green seeds is part of what we understand by forest bathing; getting out into nature, away from the world that wearies so, and allowing the senses to roam. The feel of the young pods, the fragrance as one plucks them, and allowing nature to restore and heal us.
So many of us are working far too hard and sleeping poorly; it leaves us feeling all worn out and anxious. Growing milky oats may just be part of the solution. Perhaps we all need to consider whether it's worth all that effort to sustain a lifestyle that really should be pruned.
Earn a little less, pay fewer taxes and enjoy life a bit more; doesn't it seem appealing? That is what I am finding.
The concept of "less is more" is actually attributed to the poet Robert Browning.
First you need a packet of oats seeds; they are not expensive. Draw a shallow trench in the ground with a hoe. In South Africa we do this in late summer and then the oats grows through the winter.
Pop the seeds into the shallow trench, cover with soil and tamp it down. You're done; growing milky oats is that easy. If you have dry winters as we do then you will have to irrigate the plants.
We like to plant oats and peas together; the legumes add nitrogen to the soil and the grain provides a structure for them to grow on. It's easier that putting in stakes or a trellis.
Once the crop of peas and oats is finished it makes wonderful dry matter for the compost heaps.
Simply strip the pods of milky oats off the stem, drop them into a pot and cover with boiling water.
Alternatively drop them into a coffee blender first, or even use a pestle and mortar; this helps to draw out the subtle, unknown phytochemicals that give oats its aroma, taste and calming properties.
Drop two or three tablespoons of your immature milky oats pods into a glass jar, add an equal number of cups of unchlorinated room-temperature water and let it stand overnight. Give a good shake.
In the morning strain off the infusion and enjoy during the day. Chilled it makes a wonderful, refreshing drink in summer.
If you have time on your hands, pop the seeds out of their pods after soaking overnight. Use them in your smoothies, sprinkle on a salad, or whatever. In general we tend to toss far too much good food; think of ways to use anything that you strain off.
Add a slice of freshly-cut lime or lemon; remember more than half of the nutrients are found in the pulp which is also all too often discarded. Add half a teaspoon of natural honey perhaps if you have a sweet tooth; completely unprocessed it has anti-viral properties.
Place your milky oats pods on a tray or wire mesh and place them out in the hot sun until completely dry; it may take a few days. Store for year-round use.
I use a beeswax solar extractor to speed up the drying; it gets very hot. You don't want your oats getting mildew.
Oats milk is something quite different; and a drink that I recommend only for those who have an intolerance of dairy. Much of the goodness is extracted from the grain, but you end up tossing away something of value too; all the fibre that makes for a soft stool.
Growing milky oats is very simple, even in a small garden. Two short rows is sufficient and you'll have a crop of peas too.
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