Herbs

From Antivist

Contents

Perennial Herbs

  • Anise hyssop - Agastache foeniculum
  • Basil - Ocimum basilicum
  • Catnip - Nepeta cataria
  • Chives - Allium schoenoprasum
  • Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare
  • Feverfew - Chrysanthemum parthenium
  • French tarragon - Artemisia dranunculus
  • Garlic chives - Allium tuberosum
  • Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia
  • Lovage - Levisticum officinale
  • Mint - Mentha sp.
  • Oregano - Origanum vulgare
  • Parsley - Petroselinum crispum
  • Rosemary - Rosemarinus officinalis
  • Sage - Salvia
  • Shiso, Japanese Red Mint - Perilla frutescens
  • Thyme - Thymus vulgaris

popular healing herbs

Aloe Vera
The gel within this plant is reputed to heal wounds and other skin problems such as sunburn. It is also a strong laxative. The plant can be grown in your garden in tropical climates or on your window sill. Slit open the leaves and use the juice inside.
Cayenne
Cayenne is great for the circulation and it�s no wonder with it's spicy bite! You can use it in your food, or if you are really brave, in a tea. You can also take it in a capsule. It is said that Cayenne will help to expedite the healing effects of other herbs.
Chamomile
This herb has many uses. In a tea, it has a relaxing effect and can sooth the digestive system. It is also excellent for the skin when applied topically in a cream or lotion. Many herbal soaps, shampoos and lotions include this herb which has been used since ancient times.
Echinacea
This much publicized herb can help stabilize the immune system. It can be taken as a pill or tincture or pulled out of the ground an eaten as a snack! You may have some of these purple daisy like flowers growing near you and not even realize that they have medicinal properties.
Garlic
You thought it was just a tasty root to put on bread but this herb has been used since ancient Egypt and has properties that strengthen the immune system. It is used as a treatment for infections, coughs and colds.
Ginger
Our herb guide likes ginger as it can be used in so many dishes. It is reputed to aid in circulation.
Parsley
Rich in potassium, this herb is often used as a garnish and left uneaten. I suggest you put it right in your salad and eat it up - it has many vitamins and is reputed to strengthen the kidneys and help with waste removal.
Rosemary
This herb stimulates circulation and aids in memory.
St. John's Wort
No herb guide would be complete without mention of this herb which is used to treat mild depression and elevate mood.
SAGE
The oils found in sage are both antiseptic and antibiotic, so it can help fight infections. Sage is effective for symptoms of menopause, night sweats and hot flashes, because of its estrogenic action and because its tannins can dry up perspiration. There's also compelling evidence that sage may be of value to people with diabetes for whom the hormone insulin does not work as efficiently as it should. Lab studies indicate that sage may boost insulin's action.
THYME
Thyme contains thymol, which increases blood-flow to the skin. The warmth is comforting, and some herbalists believe that the increased blood-flow speeds healing. An anti-spasmodic. Thyme relaxes respiratory muscles and is endorsed for treating bronchitis by Commission E, the expert panel that judges the safety and effectiveness of herbal medicines for the German government. Aromatherapists say that thyme's scent is a mood lifter.

garlic

  • Buy garlic bulbs at the nursery in late fall or early winter (it's unlikely you'll find started seedlings). You'll plant cloves directly in the ground about six weeks before the soil freezes. In mild climates, plant in January or February for harvesting in late summer or early fall.
  • Choose a garden site that gets full sun. Though garlic will grow in soil with any pH from 5.0 to 8.0, it does best in the slightly acid range (6.2 to 6.8).
  • Dig to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, and amend the soil with plenty of compost to ensure the ideal combination of fertility, good drainage and moisture retention.
  • Remove all traces of weeds; they'll easily win out over garlic's grasslike foliage.
  • Plant only the largest cloves from the bulb, and discard any that are pitted or tinged blue-green - both are signs of mold.
  • Set unpeeled cloves, pointy end up, 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart. For giant "elephant" garlic, increase the depth to 3 inches and the spacing to 10.
  • Top-dress the plants with compost, and mulch to retain moisture and deter weeds. Mulch again after the ground freezes to protect plants from the cold.
  • Remove the mulch in spring so the sun can warm the soil, then add a fresh layer when new growth begins. To ensure large bulbs, cut back any flower stalks that develop, and spray young plants with compost tea (see "How to Make Compost Tea") once or twice during the spring.
  • Provide an inch of water a week until the foliage turns yellow or falls over - indications that bulbs are nearing maturity.
  • Clip garlic leaves to use any time, but remove no more than 1/4 of a plant's top growth or you'll reduce bulb size.
  • Begin harvesting bulbs when about 3/4 of the tops are yellow.

links


I keep a fresh herb (and flower) garden in my basement. It takes up about two by four feet of space. When I add the herbs to the soups and stews, the fragrance of fresh herbs infuses our home, and feels so good, too, when eaten.

This is how I do it:

   * I have a four-foot shop light outfitted with cool white and warm white fluorescent tubes. I hang the shop light from a wooden frame. You could hang them from the ceiling joists, too. (You might want to staple a piece of plastic to the wood to keep debris from falling from the floor above onto the plants.)
   * The lights are plugged into a heavy-duty timer, set for 6am to 8pm.
   * I water once a week.
   * The six-inch wide round pots were saved from some geraniums I bought about four springs ago. (Each fall I take cuttings and have plants for the next spring).
   * I put a coffee filter in the bottom of each pot, so the soil does not run out the holes in the bottom of the pot and the water does.
   * I bake the soil in the oven in a large pan for an hour at 250 degrees. I add water to the soil mix before filling the pots.
   * I set the pots into a large (28-quart) shallow plastic bin.

The four-foot light will accommodate three bins, and each bin will hold six pots comfortably. The geranium colors provide a happy reminder of spring, fall, and summer.

The herbs that I plant are Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Chives, Dill, and more. I get the herbs in my grocery's produce section for $2 a pot. Repotting them really helps them to grow and flourish.

Storage Techniques

Freezing-I love this method. Simply cut stems or leaves of the herbs, rinse, pat dry and freeze in resealable bags. The small ones work well or if you would like to cut whole sprigs use the large gallon size. Label and freeze-later pull out what you need and replace the unused portions. You can also freeze chopped herbs in ice cube trays with water. After they freeze remove them and store in bags. This is good for using in soups.

Drying-Cut whole branches of the herb plant and tie with string or rubber bands. Hang in a dry, clean place such as an enclosed shed or attic. You can place paper sacks over the herbs as well while they are hanging to avoid dust. When they are dry, crumble into a glass or plastic container and store in a dry, cool location. I have dried entire plants this way-if they are annuals-just pull up and dry. Peppers will dry nicely with this method too. You can also dry herbs by laying on clean screens until dry. If you harvest large leaf herbs such as lovage, comfrey or large leaf basil, remove the leaves and place on screens. If using this method, turn the herbs during the first few days. You can also dry in a very low temperature in the oven on cookie sheets. Watch carefully and turn often.

Herb Salts: I also make herb salt each year. In a 250 degree oven spread a layer of free running salt on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the chopped fresh herbs on top of the salt, and bake for 10-20 minutes, stirring and checking often. When they are dry enough to crumble, then let cool and crumble the herbs into the salt, stir and place in a jar. You can use this as a seasoning salt; especially good with vegetables! Herbs that work well are chives, oregano, thyme, lemon balm or lemon thyme, parsley rosemary or basil.

Microwave-You can dry herbs in your microwave, but it's slow and time consuming. However, it does work! Line the turntable with paper towels. Place the herb leaves on the table so they aren't touching. I microwave for one minute-check and then try 30 seconds at a time until they are dry to the touch. Some herbs take less time, some more. When dry, crumble into containers. I like this method for trying different tea combinations. Mint and lemon balms worked well. I dried and put equal amounts of both into a tea bag and sealed for using later, or you can store in small plastic bags.

Some herbs do not dry well, such as chives or fennel, but try freezing, or using the herb salt method. Below I have several recipes that will help you to use your herb harvest this season.

Drying herbs is very easy and requires little in the way of equipment. You'll need some brown paper lunch bags to keep dust off and preserve the colors, string or rubber bands and a coat hangar. Make small bunches of washed herbs (7 or 8 stems) and place them stem end up into paper bags. Use string or rubber bands to secure the bag around the stem end of the bunch, then hang (from the coat hangar) in a cool, dark place with a nice breeze for several weeks until dry. At the end of three weeks or so, use the herbs to make beautiful wreaths as gifts (get an early start on Christmas!) or strip the leaves off, crumble and store in ziplock plastic bags or small jars with tight fitting lids. By the way, this same technique is marvelous for drying bunches of flowers.

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