YEAR by year, as I age towards 80, I realise that many of the villagers that reach 95 and even 100 in our valley, and worldwide, have eaten and drank herbs as infusions on a regular basis, including rose hips and olive leaves.
Perhaps even more important, as coastal cities have grown and become hubs of pollution, has been the quality of air that one can still inhale in mountain valleys.
Air scented heavily with the evaporated oils of herbs like rosemary, lavender and thyme.
And 20 per cent of that air is the vital oxygen that we take in via our lungs every second of our lives night and day.
Indeed, although we rarely look at it this way, for many oxygen is a very major ingredient in our Mediterranean diets.
Typically 300 to 400 grammes a day, and plants eat it too.
In a polluted environment pollutants can create a strain on the lungs and the heart.
Long term this can cause unwanted chronic deceases.
In a garden environment where beneficial aromatic plants have been planted wisely the evaporated natural oils in the air can be of added benefit.
Plants that create natural aromatherapy effects include aromatic herbs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena, perfumed roses, citrus trees, pine trees and eucalyptus.
The figure of 400 grammes of oxygen a day is for a moderate level of physical activity.
Heavy pruning and sawing during the winter cutback, the digging of planting holes, the preparing of the soil for the planting of vegetables, the digging planting holes for trees or a strenuous walk in the mountains with major climbs can significantly increase one’s ingestion of oxygen to half a kilo or more a day.
Even on a balanced diet, with 50 per cent or more of ecologically grown and processed fruits and vegetables of raw live energy, the proportion of oxygen in the diet is significant.
I suspect that this is something that most of us rarely think about whether enthusiastic or reluctant gardeners.
So do preserve and improve the quality of the air in your gardens not just with plants but also by minimising spraying with insecticides and fungicides and when you have to use them use only ecological ones.
Bottles of neem oil, propolis in alcohol, garlic and eco potassium soap or washing up liquid will deal with almost all problems except for the weevils attacking palm trees and agaves.
© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com September 2014