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Ollie Taylor

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since Feb 19, 2013
Currently researching for the purchase and conception of a permaculture based farm in around 5 years. Learning, growing and loving every second of it.
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
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Recent posts by Ollie Taylor

Hey permies

I recently wrote my first ever article, and had it published by geoff lawtons outfit, (woohoo!)

I thought i would share it on here too - it is to do with my own personal experience at using crushed, non-irridiated garlic to cure a bacterial staph infection.

Being a product of the 1990s British state education system, I grew up with a very ‘conventional’ western mind-set towards science and medicine. I have always been naturally sceptic of medicine applied through plants, even while hearing the tales my grandmother had told me of Camomile lotion helping rashes, and ginger helping a bad stomach. But these were always remedies you purchased in bottles and packets, carefully tested and scrutinised by the infallible knowledge of the modern pharmaceutical scientist. Believing that plants could be used to help alleviate or cure medical problems? That was pure witchcraft, akin to dancing under a full moon on a Tuesday to help a sprained ankle, or rubbing crystals on your eyelids for the flu. To think that only a few decades later, I was putting aside the advice of registered doctors, and getting my medicine from my modest balcony garden.

The beginning of my (so far short) journey into herbal healing started when I got some pretty nasty battery acid burns, while I was working in a metal scrapyard in Australia. One of the products we recycled was the lead from lead acid batteries – the ones under the hood of every car/van. It was my job to weigh, stack, and wrap the batteries onto a pallet before sending them away for processing. It just so happened that one morning, a battery I picked up fell apart in my hands, spreading a lovely solution of 38% Sulphuric Acid on to my arms and hands. The somewhat minor burns turned into irritated skin, and due to the dirty environment I worked in, ended up being infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (1). A quick trip to the doctor should get that sorted, right? Well, 4 months later, and countless courses of Bactoban, Flucloxacillin, and two other antibiotics I cannot remember, yielded nothing except a slice out of my pay check.

It was thanks to google, and a desperation not to look like my skin was falling off, that I found a forum post with many people promising that crushed garlic, cures staph infections (2). The original post states –

‘Freshly crushed raw garlic kills all or almost all harmful bacteria, including staph, on contact. One study (Walton, Herbold & Lendegren 1936-1938 – Journal of Food Science) even showed that the vapours alone from nearby crushed raw garlic killed all bacteria, including staph, out to 8″ away just from the fumes.
Numerous other studies, such as Abdou et al., 1972 have confirmed that crushed raw garlic kills staph on contact.’

This had my statement had my brain ticking. Peer reviewed proof that a plant can treat bacterial infections? Is this the evidence I needed to extend the true value of plants into the medical realm too? A bit more digging soon yielded much more recent journal releases on the subject, including the testing of garlic compounds on a variety of types of problematic bacteria, with positive results (4) (5) Importantly too, garlic based compounds can seemingly overcome the problems in treatment associated with antibiotic resistant strains of Staph, such as MRSA.(3) This gives us humans a good avenue for treatment of bacteria which is learning to dodge our best scientific efforts.

So, I was sold. I had found a bridge between my steadfast belief in the scientific world, and my love and belief in the intrinsic value of plant life. Maybe all those old wives tales were based in truth? After doing some reading though, I realised I could not just rush out to the shop and eat 40 garlic cloves and consider the problem fixed and do a little celebration dance. There are a few things that have to be adhered to when working with garlic as a healing agent – the garlic used must be non-irradiated, and it must be chopped or crushed and allowed to breakdown into the powerful compound allicin.(6) (For those organic pest control users out there, allicin is the compound which naturally protects the plant against pests, and can be used as a spray-solution to protect your crops (7)

To ensure you are working with non-irradiated Garlic, you are best off growing it yourself, or sourcing it from a local grower. Second to this – organic, nationally grown Garlic is your next best bet. A simple test for non-irradiated Garlic is to take a clove, and using a sharp knife, slice long-ways through the middle of the clove. You should end up with a centre that has a healthy green shoot, ensuring that the clove is still living and not blasted with radiation. Most imported garlic is irradiated to stop it sprouting and spoiling. You want to find a glove with an intact endosperm (the green bit) like this one.

For treatment of my staph infections, I made a poultice and applied to directly to my wounds I mixed it with coconut oil, as I found that using it directly was far too strong, and burnt very harshly. I also bathed in a mix of 1-4 activated garlic per bathtub. As garlic is gram-negative, and staph is a gram-positive bacteria, the garlic compound actively seeks out the staph bacteria and helps neutralise it. The allicin is not degraded further when suspended in a water solution, so chucking it in the bath will do a decent amount of good. I soaked for an hour or so, making sure I submerged my whole body every now and again.

After around a week of garlic baths, and topical application, my wounds had lost all of their redness and tenderness, and were starting to heal up. Within a few weeks, it was all seemingly gone, and within a month, a test by my doctor showed that I tested positive for the bacteria. After such a long period of pharmaceutical medicine had failed, my doctor was amazed with the work garlic had done. But, he said to me with a touch of dismay in his voice, he would likely lose his job if he recommended it to any patients.

Globally, as we approach a post-industrial society, medical knowledge of this sort is going to become invaluable. Laboratories, factories and scientific communities will not exist in the current format forever. That understanding of a unavoidable transition away from the availability of modern medicine, coupled with the increasing resistance from bacteria towards antibiotics, makes this plant based medicine a powerful and effective tool for anybody. As permaculturists, we need to work on healing our decimated ecosystems, bringing life back to our deadened soil, and reinvigorating long-suppressed communities. In order to do this in the most effective manner, we need to be healthy, and strong. I believe that this tiny glimpse into effective herbalism provides us with proof that we can achieve true health, with a thriving garden and the correct knowledge. With something as simple and true as a few cloves of garlic. My Year 9 science teacher would be mortified.




(3) Antibacterial activity of a new, stable, aqueous extract of allicin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

(4) In vitro activity of an aqueous allicin extract and a novel allicin topical gel formulation against Lancefield group B streptococci




Let me know what you all think - I will try to answer any questions I have on using garlic, since I did a load of research when i had my own infection going on, and might be able to shortcut you to the right direction if you have a specific problem

Also please critique the article if you fancy! It is my first shot at writing, so any criticism is taken with eager thoughts.

peas and glove

4 years ago
I think the drainage is going to be ok, we had a look just after about 15mm of rain (in one night!) and it was just as well drained as everything around it.

I've actually built one of the beds already - the plan is to build two, and see how the go for a season, and if they fare well then we will be building 100 more. I will update with a lot of photos and explanations soon (need to grab a new card reader)
6 years ago
I've only been here for about 4 months to be honest....I'm originally from a temperate climate in England, UK, so i have not even lived here for a whole season! But from what I can gather this is a subtropical area, which has a wet season and a dry season, both in the extremes. There will be mad amounts of flooding at one point, then months without rain for other points. It is certainly in the extremes, and with global warming providing more extremities, it is only going to get more volatile.

The soil on the farm is between clay and earthy soil. Once you dig down a bit it is very clay based, but the topsoil of about a feet is pretty good. We have a never ending supply of manure and mulch and timber at the farm, so soil improvement continues all the time. We are going to just place our hugelkultur straight on top of the existing grassland and see how it fares. Mainly we are doing this so we do not interfere with the root system of the fruit trees that are going to be encompassed by the 'U' shape of the wood.

I'm planning on having my own 30-50 acres property in Queensland/New South Wales at some point in the next 5 years, so this experience with drought-protection-irrigation-systems will be invaluable when I have my own place. It'll be interesting to see how this season feels to me, since I am used to the UK based set 4 seasons, which are pretty defined (except in the last two, they have been all over the place)
6 years ago
Yeah, I understood from a number of posts in this forum that planting trees on the beds is a bad move, so we are avoiding that one completely. We have decided to place the beds in a 'U' shape around the trees, with enough room to walk around the tree once it is full grown, and walk around the beds too from the inside and out. Drainage will be provided by a runoff through the gap of the 'U' shape by placing a slight slant on the soil inside the 'U'.

We actually started constructing the first one last week, but we have calculated that we need 2 truck loads of wood and 2 truck loads of soil per tree. And there being 100 trees, this will take a real long time. I took some photographs (and will upload them tomorrow) so everybody will be able to see what I mean, and put an image to my theory. I cannot see a problem with the way I have laid this out, and it might provide a great no-work irrigation system for thirsty trees in dry areas, as well as fertile beds to plant plants that compliment the tree and taste great
6 years ago
we call these cheesybobs in my home town. well i'll be damned - i just found out it is ONLY in my hometown
6 years ago
So I'm helping out at a local Community Farm at the moment, and the owner has worries about the regular droughts that we have here in Queensland, Australia. In the dry spells, we can go up to 6 months without a drop of rain, meaning that the fruit trees and orchards usually have to be pump irrigated pretty much every day in order to keep the trees alive.

I'm suggesting hugelkulture as an alternative to that, and wanted to run past my idea with the forum. My idea was to build circular hugelkulture beds around the fruit trees, at a height of about 6 feet, in order to soak up loads of water and allow indirect watering of the fruit tree next to the bed. My idea was to place the beds around the tree like this (sorry about the simplicity of the drawing!!!)


With the lines being the hugelkultur bed, and the o being the fruit tree. The ...... are empty space, as are the empty space.

We would then have a method of infinite irrigation for the fruit trees via misting from the beds, new space to grow crops on the beds, more protection from grazing animals, and general all over awesomeness.

Can anyone see a problem with this? Has anyone done this before?

My second part of the question was - what are some good initial root-heavy crops to plant in the beds? I want stuff to be planted that has a good solid root system so it holds the bed together and does not collapse onto the fruit tree, but not sure what good initial crops to plant in the beds. Thanks in advance!

All the best

6 years ago
I've not butchered a pig myself - i've only ever butchered pheasants, and gutted and filleted fish that i've caught and killed. Nothing as big as a pig!

I went to my first day of involvement with a local community farm that is just starting up - I have a feeling that I can learn a lot about plant based farming there, not sure if I will get to experience much with the animal side of things though. How would I go about learning to butcher a pig? I guess finding a farmer or butcher that is willing to tell me. It'll be a steep learning curve as I have no starting experience with killing mammals.

Renate - I like the idea of someone being able to come and 'pick' the pig they want. Reminds me of having a live tank where you can pick your lobster from in a restaurant! It has a more intimate feel of the person-food relationship to it.

You know, I used to hang pheasants for a week or so before eating them, and I always felt like the meat was not as nourishing when I ate it as opposed to eating it fresh. I'd have to agree with the friend from China - I believe that fresh meat is better in constitution - maybe not taste, but in nourishment, surely.
6 years ago
Thanks for all the great replies, it has given me lots to think about.

I was not aware about the historical use of cedar chests due to wool products being mothbitten - i'm a city dweller with no traditional skills passed down to me, so I'm starting afresh with everything in the natural world, aside from fishing skills. Good to know.

I'd be a bit apprehensive about using Borax/Boron based things, just because it'd be great if I could stick to using things not industrially processed when possible, but if that is the best option (from what a few people have said) then maybe it is an avenue I need to explore.

I'll be having a look around for companies in Aus that process wool, and also comment on their 'natural' rating - wether or not they are treated with industrially produced chemicals/natural ingredients etc.
6 years ago

Kelly Smitherson wrote:I have a waiting list of people who are begging me to raise more pigs, I can not meet the demand, but out here, people beg for good food, I do not have to sell why organic non gmo pasture is better- they know and they want it- so I lucked out that way, we are close to bg urban areas, now.. my folks trying to sell organic pork in the ag belt in Wisconsin- that IS different marketing than I have to do out here in the shadow of Seattle, home of the foodies
no issues in finding the demand, it is more about sticking to my guns on how I want to raise my animals and not giving into greed and trying to actually meet that demand
finding a SMALL customer base of people who think the way I do, and support SMALL family farm - and not compromising my priorities to make a sale

when you actually start farming, you will be amazed at how many other farmes come out of the woodwork all around you, it may seem like no one else is out there, but once you start networking as a working farmer- they will appear. I thought NO ONE else was doing what I was doing in my county, once I put some skin in the game I suddenly saw I was one of many- how wonderful

That is great to hear that the demand is truly out there. Sometimes I seem to be lost in a sea of people who just don't really give two poops about where there food comes from. I will be basing my home/farm about 30-45 mins out of a major city (the other half is a bit of a city dweller in her heart of hearts so we cannot stray too far from the busy!) which will hopefully provide more of a market for our goods. It seems that this local area (Brisbane, Australia) has a strong Local Food and Organic network built up, so I'm hoping that when I come around to the time of raising pigs, there will also be a strong number of people who are after quality meats. Like you said - even though i'm just beginning, it does seem that the more involved I get with the networks of farmers/organics/permaculture/localfood, the bigger i realise these networks to be. And man, i'm glad Thanks for sharing your experience Kelly, appreciate it so much.

Renate Haeckler wrote:Just wanted to throw out there - to find the first few customers try craigslist farm/garden section and also After a bit you'll get return customers and word-of-mouth customers.

We just bought a pig off of someone on craigslist while waiting for ours to get big enough to eat.

There's also a new butcher shop in the area that specializes in locally raised, hormone/antibiotic free meats. I think the way the owner is working it is you can sell the animal directly to him then take it to one of three butchers he uses and he pays you for the animal and pays the butcher for their fees. It's just a storefront with a bunch of chest freezers but the guy is personable and I think he's doing quite well. Maybe you could look around to see if there's anyone like that in your area.

Thanks for the link to localharvest - i'll check out if that is up and running over here (Australia). I'm pretty sure there must be an alternative if it is not. Gumtree is the big classifieds around here, and it is actually really well used, so i'll be bound to give that a go when I start selling pigs.

That was one of my initial thoughts about raising and then selling the pig meat, finding a butcher who would be willing to sell the meat openly, as oppose to by per order. The other option would be selling it directly to the customer on an order basis - for example, I would make a sale for a whole pig, and I would then ask the customer for the money to pay the butcher too (by selling them meat price + butcher price). I would find a decent, kind, small scale family butcher who would be willing to kill and butcher the meat on my behalf for the customer, and as long as that butcher worked within the parameters that I found to be positive and acceptable.

It'd be great to be able to find a butcher from where I could sell them the whole pigs for them to then sell in their shop, and also somebody who would be willing to also butcher pigs on demand for my own order-based customers. I'll be scouting the area when I locate my homestead for someone who would be willing to work with me. Fingers crossed someone like that exists out there!

6 years ago
Ah as I expected - the stuff I used was store bought so must have been treated completely.

Can you wash lanolin out with just water, or does it have to be treated some other way? A research point for me right there I think.....

It'd be nice to be able to insulate building with an all natural material but no good if it was eaten up by bugs within a season!
6 years ago