*As with any herb – always consult your healthcare provider before taking or using any new herb*
February 2020 – Herbal Greetings!
As her name suggests the Elderberry is the “wise one or elder” of the herb garden. Often planted at the edge of the herb garden as the “protector” of the garden, it is said that one must ask her permission before picking her flowers or fruit. Then and only then will she grant you the herbal wisdom of her secrets. Rather you believe this folklore or not, good manners should be used at all times, in the herb garden or out.
Elder flowers are very delicate and lace like, they are a wonderful remedy to help fight fevers, being they are an excellent diaphoretic – meaning they induce sweating, therefore helping to reduce and lower fevers. Elderberries have excellent immune enchancing properties and you will often see them paired with echinacea to help fight cold and flu like symptoms. Elderberries have powerful anti-viral properties and are beneficial in fighting viral infections like: flus, herpes, upper respiratory infections and even shingles. They can be taken in a syrup, tincture or tea form and of course they are very tasty in jelly and wine too.
It is important NOT to eat or consume raw elderberries in large amounts – as they can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some people.
Herbal Greeting to the New Year 2020!!!
January 2020 – Ginger Root
Ginger root can be used fresh or dried, in teas – tinctures – stir fries – soups and stews – in smoothies – salad dressings and marinades. Ginger is warming and energizing to the body. It is wonderful for settling upset stomachs and the digestive system. Ginger works quickly to help ease cramping and gives a warming sensation throughout the body. I will sometimes combine ginger with other “not so good” tasting herbs to help make bad tasting herbs taste better. Ginger root is the herb that is connected to the “Root” Chakra.
Herbal Greetings – Month of September 2019
In my opinion it is one the the most “over looked” herbs in the herb garden. It is wonderful used in stews, sauces, soups and with roasted meats. There are several different varieties of thyme (lemon thyme is a lovely addition to the herb garden) most of which are easy to grow, come back year and year, plus the honey bees and pollinators adore it’s delicate flowers. Thyme contains anti-viral and antiseptic properties, which makes thyme a go to herb for cold and flu symptoms. Thyme infused honey is super for treating sore throats and coughs (Never give honey to a child under the age of 2 years – their little system’s cannot break it down). Thyme can be difficult to dry for winter usage, but it does freeze very well. Most herbs that have a woody stem freeze nicely for future use. Simply pick fresh thyme and place in a zip lock freezer bag, once frozen you can easily remove the small leaves for use in soups, stew, herbal tea or your favor recipe.
Herbal Greetings – Month of August 2019
Borage also known as the “star flower” symbolizes courage. And don’t we all need some of that!! During the crusades, soldiers would infuse their mead and/or wine with borage flowers to give them “courage” in battle. I’m sure the wine or mead didn’t hurt either!! During the Civil War, WWI and WWII ladies would embroidery borage flowers onto handkerchiefs scented with their perfume to send with their soldiers into battle for “courage”. Borage leaves are very hairy and can be irritating to skin, so take caution when harvesting. They leaves have a faint cucumber scent and young leaves can be added to soups, stews and salads. The delicate blue flowers are edible and can be used to decorate salads and desserts. Borage can be easily grown from seed and are a good self seeder from year to year in the herb garden.
Herbal Greetings! Week of July 8th
Known as the “stinking rose” with some good reasoning, but it is one of the best tasting and helpful kitchen herbs! But the best way to hide or fight the smell of bad breath, is to have everyone in the house eat the same thing! Garlic is nature’s antibiotic, it increases your white blood cells, which in turn fights infection and disease, by creating antigens in the body. Garlic is a natural ward against intestinal parasites and can be used to worm animals as well as we humans. Garlic adds wonderful spice to many dishes and gives wonderful depth of flavor, used in pasta sauces, meats, salad dressings and so many of your recipes. Whole roasted garlic bulbs are sweet and creamy and full of flavor, spread on bread, toast or crackers. And so good for you too! A great way to add flavor to a salad is to rub the bowl with a clove of garlic before for tossing a salad. Garlic is very easy to grow and you can usually get two crops out of one garlic bed, in an Ohio growing season. So, hats off to the “stinking rose”….. after all a rose by any other name still bares thorns…. or smelly breath!
Herbal Greetings! Week of July 1st HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!
Know as the “kingly or royal herb” it was once so highly valued that it was used as currency and only persons of royal or kingly stature could use or grow basil. An old proverb states that if a man takes a basil plant from a woman, he will marry her and she will be his one and only true love. There are over 150 varieties of basil, from sweet common, lemon, cinnamon to global bush, opal/purple and Thai. Basil is a classic Italian culinary herb that is found in pesto, pasta sauces and pizza. But it is much more than that! It is wonderful for stress headaches, anxiety and calming to nervous disorders. Basil is delicious in herbal tea blends and gives a bright note to eggs, fish and salads. Basil is an annual and grows very easily from seeds. If you are out in the garden and get stung or bit by a bug or bee, you can crush a basil leaf and apply it to the area, to help relieve the swelling and pain from the bite. Basil is an all around classic herb and should be celebrated in the herb garden.
Herbal Greetings! Week of June 24th
There is an old English proverb that sums up the herb mint in a nut shell “For a man to name all the types and uses of mint; he’s better to name all the fish in the sea”. Being that there are over 600 varieties of mint and more being created yearly, I’d say this statement rings true still today. Any herb that grows on and has a square stem is considered to be from the mint family, hence why the number is so high. In Greek and Roman times mint was used as currency and was highly prized. In my opinion, it is still a valuable herb to include in the herb garden. Medicinally, mint (peppermint) is wonderful for digestive complaints, colds, flu and head aches. Using mint in the kitchen gives a nice cooling and refreshing twist to desserts, teas and is a classic herb to pare with roasted lamb. The leaves and the flowers are both usable and the pollinators adore the delicate flowers. Honey made from peppermint flowers is fabulous! Mint is a “traveling” herb and needs wide open spaces. It can be somewhat controlled when planted in containers. But, is a must have for any “medicine chest” herb garden. Plant and enjoy this valuable herb!!
Herbal Greetings! Week of June 17th
Greek for “on the ground”, Chamomile also known by: “pineapple weed”and “ground apple” is a gentle and refreshing herb, that spreads when walked upon. So, the more you try to “stomp” it out the more it grows! As, Mrs. Rabbit gave to Peter, it is calming to an upset tummy and settling to the nerves. In the language of flowers, Chamomile stands for humility. As a companion plant in the garden, it helps to strengthen and revive it’s neighboring plants, giving it the name “plants’ physician” as well. It can be used fresh or dried, the flowers can be added to desserts and salads, as well as herbal tea blends. Chamomile is mild and for the most part safe, it is however a member of the ragweed family, so if you have high ragweed allergens, it may be best to avoid chamomile in large quantities. It makes a lovely night time tea, to relax and melt the days’ stresses away, especially when blended with rose petals, cat-mint and lavender. Chamomile adds a sweet and delicate display to the herb garden.
Herbal Greetings! Week of June 10th
Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis
Lemon Balm is a very mild and gentle herb. It’s name comes from the Greek – Melissa meaning “honey bee”. And rightly, so, bees adore lemon balm. Beekeepers of old would rub the insides of their bee-skeeps with lemon balm to attract bees to their hives. Lemon Balm makes a lovely and simple infusion, on it’s own. It’s mild lemon taste is very pleasant , while it’s properties are soothing, calming and relaxing. Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family, so gardener “beware” it will spread like wild fire and take over an herb bed quickly! So, make sure to give it either wide open spaces or contain it to a patio planter. The leaves can be used fresh in salads for a mild lemon twist and it also dries very nicely for use in herbal tea blends in the winter months. Lemon Balm is a delightful addition to the garden.
Herbal Greetings! Week of June 3rd – Hello June!!
I not sure where the month of May slipped to? But here we are celebrating the month of June already!
Sage – Salvia officinalis
Sage is Latin for “heal” and is known as the herb of wisdom and long life. Hence the phrase “good sage advice” ! Sage is NOT just for your Thanksgiving bird! No, on the contrary, it is not only a fabulous culinary herb, but a wonderful medicinal herb that has been honored for centuries. Actually, American sage is highly revered and China has imported American sage in mass quantities for years. Sage is one of my top go to herbs for sore throats! It is one of the best remedies to sooth and relieve a dry & scratchy sore throat, a cup of sage tea sweetened with honey (never give honey to children under the age of 2 yrs.) and a slice of lemon does wonders! Sage is know for its’ drying and anti-bacterial properties. Nursing mothers, should avoid large amounts of sage, for it can dry up breast milk, unless that is the goal you are trying to achieve as you wean your child. Sage tea, is also helpful for “night sweats” for women that are beyond child bearing years and dealing with menopause. Sage is full of nutrients and antioxidants that help tone and rejuvenate the entire body. Fresh sage leaves fried or browned to just crisp in butter are excellent with fish or roasted chicken! Yum! So, the next time you reach into the pantry or wildcraft from your own herb garden – pick sage for more than just your holiday stuffing!
Herbal Greetings! Week of May 27th – Happy Memorial Day!!
I thought it would be fun to start a “herb of the week” to give insight and information on a featured herb. So, we will begin with one of my favorites, you’ll hear that word “favorite” a lot from me! Because, honestly they all are!
Rosemary – Rosemarinus officinalis
Rosemary has long been valued for it’s memory enhancing qualities. In the language of flowers and herbs it is know as the herb of remembrance. During Victorian times ladies would slip a sprig of rosemary in their quests’ pocket as they were leaving their homes. When their quest would find the hidden treasure, they would touch it releasing the vital oils and aroma. As a remembrance of their hostess and their visit. By simply smelling it’s lovely fragrance, it brings an up take of oxygen to the brain, thus clearing the “cob webs” and giving mental clarity. Rosemary is wonderful in an herbal blend infusion used as a brain tonic, to help with mental clarity and focus. Rosemary has long been used in cooking and as a preservative of roasted meats. During Roman times and before refrigeration, large quantities of this strong smelling and tasting herb were used, to hide the smell and taste of spoiled meat. Little did they know that in fact, the anti-bacterial properties found in the rosemary, were aiding in their well being . Rosemary is a classic herb used with roasted lamb and beef, along with roasted vegetables, infused in oils and vinegar and pares lovely with garlic and lemon in sauces, cheese, short breads and compound butter. Rosemary is a true favorite and widely purposeful herb. I believe that it should be included in every kitchen herb garden and used with deligh