In gardening terms, Aloe Vera is a woman’s best friend and role model. She is sturdy, reliable, always there when you need her, will embrace her motherhood and raise many flexible, strong and adaptable children.
When I made Aliyah to Jerusalem in 2011, it only took me a short time to understand that in a Mediterranean Climate you can grow plants and herbs all year long. Although winters do get cold and there is an occasional snow, I started to see around the city that the lavender, rosemary, sage, jasmine and Aloe Vera didn’t die in the winter and started to flower with love in the spring. And I saw many people growing a variety of different plants on their small porches.
It was probably Spring 2012 and I was walking in the center of Jerusalem and I saw a small but very green and full Aloe Vera plant sitting in a small shop. She was calling out to me to buy her. I went into the shop very self conscious as I never grew a flower or plant in my life and asked the shop owner what I needed to do. He said, “Water it once a week, put it in full or semi-full sun, and when it gets a little bigger just move it to a bigger pot.” I thought okay, let’s try this. What is the worst that can happen. She will die and I will keep it a secret.
So I started watering her once a week. She started growing. She grew fast. I moved her to a bigger pot and she grew even faster. Then she gave birth to two little babies which I replanted in another pot. And they grew and eventually gave birth to their own babies.
And all of a sudden I felt like a gardener. Not only didn’t she die, but she gave birth and always looked like a relaxed mother. 🙂
I ended up taking a very basic gardening course in early 2013 to expand my knowledge on how to grow other plants, herbs and greens. With plenty of trial & error, and a lot of love, I now have a variety of plants on the window sills of my 3rd floor apartment (which you can see in the feature picture of this blog post) including sage, basil, zaatar, mint, geranium, lemon verbena, beet leaves and thyme.
However, I think for any beginner, Aloe Vera is the plant to start with. Like you read earlier, it only needs watering once a week, it grows fast, and it lasts for years (My Aloe Vera is still standing strong until today.)
And of course anytime you, or your kids, get sunburn, burn yourself during cooking, have a mosquito bite or skin irritation–you just cut a small leaf off the plant as close to the root as possible and put the gel right on your wound. (You can keep the Aloe Vera leaf in the fridge if only using a little bit at a time.)
Our 3.5 year old Ovadia already knows Aloe Vera when he sees it on the street and that you need to put it on when you have a mosquito bite.
So there you go my gardener friends. Go out and buy yourself a small Aloe Plant. Let her grow and share the babies with your friends. (Sometimes I give small Aloe Vera babies as gifts.)
A few notes:
*Keep your Aloe Vera in full sun if possible, though they can tolerate some shade.
*When the babies start to grow right next to the mother plant, just push your hand under the soil and take it out with the root. It should come out easily and don’t worry if a small part of the root comes off. Place it in a new pot, water 2 or 3 times a week (if it is summer 3 times) for about 2-3 weeks and don’t worry if it turns brown. After a week or two it should gain its green color again. Once it is fully green I would go back to watering it once a week.
*After you move your main Aloe Plant, you will need to buy potting mix. For one Aloe Vera Plant , depending on what size pot you buy, you will need either 10 or 20 liters of soil. I like Deshanit’s Garden Mix as you see below. Any bigger, I won’t be able to carry it up my stairs. Ask at your local plant nursery how much potting mix they think you will for a specific pot.
*A great place to buy flowers, herbs, and greens is the Jerusalem Botanical Garden’s nursery. They have the widest variety in Jerusalem and the staff is very knowledgeable. They also have every fruit tree imaginable in the back of the nursery where I always take a few moments to dream of a future garden.
Feel free to write me in the comments section with any questions or suggestions on your end.
In this series I hope to go more in-depth with other herbs and greens I have had success with and give some personal tips and various uses for each plant.
Thanks for reading and happy gardening 😀