By Alan on May 09 in Blog tagged Dennis Adamson, herbs, master gardner, provident living, The Family, theFamily, Week 18 | Comments Off
Week 18 Herbs
When I was an undergraduate in college in the 60s, Simon and Garfunkel sang a song called Scarborough Fair. It came out in an album whose title name came from the 2nd line of the song. The song was originally an old ballad from the United Kingdom. Later it came out as a single after being featured in the sound track of the movie The Graduate. The 2nd line is: Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. At that time I wasn’t into gardening and thought the line was: Parsley, sage, rose, mary and time. I wasn’t sure what it meant, possibly about a girl named Mary who at that time liked parsley, sage and roses. As a matter of fact older versions of the ballad had these version: Sober and grave grows merry in time, Every rose grows merry with time, There’s never a rose grows fairer with time. The version using herbs didn’t appear until the 1800s.
Before the advent of the modern grocery store, where both dried and fresh herbs have become readily available, herbs grown in gardens were the major source of seasonings for foods. They were also used for medicines, storing with linens, early air fresheners, means of covering the bad taste of meats or stale water before refrigeration, dyeing homespun fabrics and as fragrances.
They are now primarily used for flavoring foods, in fragrances, as ornamentals plants, in perfumes, cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. As Master Gardeners we are advised not to discuss ways to use plants that we grow as medicines. We are able to point out those plants that have been scientifically studied and proven safe and reliable for use with humans.
Medicinal herbs have long been used to cure illness. Many of these cures are anecdotal, meaning the reports of effectiveness are based on personal accounts or testimonials and not on proven facts or sound research. “But while present medical knowledge recognizes some herbs as having healing properties, others are highly overrated.” as quoted in a West Virginia Extension Service bulletin. They go on to say, “Medicinal herbs should be used carefully. Some herbs are harmless while others can be dangerous if consumed.”
By some accounts there are 40-60 or more different kinds of herbs. They do not come from a specific family and this is why there will never be an absolutely defined number. Most herbs were originally from the Mediterranean region so they may not grow quite as well in your climate.
My experience with growing herbs has been limited mainly to use as an ornamental plant. I have chives, lavenders and sages growing among other annual and perennial ornamentals. I use varieties of thyme as a ground cover. I grow parsley and cilantro for use in cooking, that is my wife’s cooking. I also grow mint for sentimental reasons. My deceased mother grew mint and brewed a tea from its leaves. She served it to us with lots of cream and sugar. I remember enjoying it as a child. Since it has a tendency to run, I have it planted in an area where it can’t get away.
I planted my spare strawberry pot with herbs using the same technique described in the week 15 article on strawberries. I then placed it in my greenhouse. All of these herbs have been thriving wonderfully.
Recently I had the opportunity to hear about some of the herbs in our Advanced Master Gardener class at Thanksgiving Point. It was entitled, 7 Must Have Herbs for the Kitchen. It was given by Tessa Zundel, one of our classmates. As I go through it you will find that she actually lists 8 herbs. Since, as far as I know, none of us are professional editors or English majors, I get a good laugh out of such things and don’t get too critical over these matters. Few in our class are professionally trained in horticulture or work in the field. We are just lovers of gardening trying to learn as much as we can about gardening for our own benefit and to pass this love of gardening on to others.
1. Basil Ocimum basilicum Tessa lists this as her all time favorite herb for the kitchen. It is considered a summer annual in many climates. The seeds should be sown after any danger of frost has passed. It germinates best if the soil is 70 F (21C). It can also be grown as an indoor plant. If you start it indoors, be cautious of moisture. The seedlings are prone to damping off. Damping off is caused by a fungal infection that can destroy plants rapidly. Basil is probably the most prone to this of all the herbs. A damp environment, crowding and poor air circulation all contribute to this. A light covering of the soil with sand or perlite will help absorb the moisture and a fungicide may be needed. Plant in fertile well drained soil with lots of sunlight. Prune every 2-3 weeks to encourage growth. Stem cuttings can be taken late in the season and planted indoors to overwinter plants. There are several varieties. Tessa likes Thai, Genovese, Sweet Dani and Lime among others. ‘Purple Ruffles’ is also a favorite variety with purple ruffled edged leaves.
Basil is most commonly used for tomato sauces, pestos and vinegars. It can also be placed whole or torn into pieces in salads or on tomatoes. They can be used in salad dressings. Place them in the garden where you will brush against them and release their aroma.
They can be used fresh, dried or frozen. Most recommend brushing the leaves with olive oil before freezing. There is the recommendation to tear vs. cutting the leaves when using them in salads. The reason given is that cutting damages more cell walls and causes the leaves to discolor more rapidly. Others say that cutting will also discolor the other greens in the salad. Try both ways and see which you prefer.
2. Garlic Allium sativum This is a hardy perennial herb that is usually grown as an annual. It prefers sun, but will grow in partial shade. Plant it in rich well drained soil. It should remain moist until it begins to ripen. Then you should withhold water. The individual cloves can be planted 1 1/2 – 2” deep in fall or spring. Carefully dig the bulbs in late summer so as to not bruise them. The common or soft necked varieties will store for months in a cool dry place. These are the ones you see braided and hung and also the ones found in most grocery stores. The other main type is the hardneck garlic. There are several varieties and it has been recommended that you buy a sampler to plant so you can see which you like. The garlic plant has long stalks called garlic scapes. There is an ongoing debate over whether to remove the scapes as they grow or to leave them. Those that remove them feel that the cloves in the bulb grow larger. They often use the scapes in salads or in cooking. Bruising the garlic clover refers to placing your knife flat on top of the garlic clove and hitting it so that the garlic is a bit smashed, but preferably still in one piece. This releases the flavor.
Garlic can be used fresh, dried, roasted, powdered or cubed. It can be infuse in oil and vinegar.
3. Chives Allium schoenoprasum (not to be confused with garlic chives Allium tuberosum) They are grown in similar conditions to garlic. Propagation is said to be easier from division of existing plants, but they can be grown from seed. The division can be done every 3-5 years. Plant the bulbs in small clumps.
The flowers can be harvested and added to salads. Tessa says that harvesting the flowers will improve the taste of the stem. Use the stems on any dish that might benefit from a mild onion flavor. Chop the stems and add to potato and other salads, in omelets and other egg dishes, on baked or mashed potatoes, sandwiches and soups, . They can also be added to cream cheese and butter. When doing this, allow them to sit for at least an hour so the flavor will be infused throughout the product.
As previously mentioned, they are also a wonderful ornamental with the bright round flowers and sleek foliage.
4. Sage Salvia officinalis This is a hardy perennial that grows in zone 4-8. Mulch it in the winter. It prefers full sun and a light, dry well drained alkaline soil. Propagate by seeds or 4” cuttings. There are several varieties. The non flowering broad-leafed variety is often called Holt’s Mammoth. There are several flowering varieties. If using these, pick the leaves before the plant flowers. One class member likes the variety Pineapple. They said it is a good pollinator and smells and tastes something like pineapple.
Sages are used for flavoring. I especially like it in dressings (stuffings). It is also used in medications, perfumes and cosmetics. They are also used as ornamental plants.
5. Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Plant in full sun, avoid planting in clay soils. It is a perennial herb that has a mild anise flavor. The leaves and fruits (often called seeds) can be eaten. The Florence fennel has an enlarged base that looks like a bulb and is eaten as a vegetable.
6. Thyme Thymus vulgaris
It grows best in full sun, well drained fertile soil, preferably alkaline. It is a hardy perennial growing in zones 3-8. Mulch in the fall. Propagate by taking 2-3” stems or by division in spring or autumn. They can also be grown from seed. Harvest frequently to promote new growth. Some people think the flavor of the leaves are best when the plant is in bloom. Thyme can be added to stuffings, marinades, fish dishes and the lemon thyme can be made into a tea. There are several varieties of thyme that are grown as a ground cover. When they flower they are good pollinators.
7. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Place in a sunny area with fertile well drained soil. It is a tender perennial that will need protection in colder climates. The variety Arp will handle Zone 6. Seeds can be started indoors or seeded outside when temperatures permit. It is easier to propagate by cuttings. They can be harvested year round, but take the largest crop before flowering. Dry the whole branch and then strip the leaves when storing. Use fresh or dried in salads, lamb & pork dishes, potato dishes, breads, butters and oils. They are also used as ornamental plants and are good pollinators.
8. Coriander (cilantro) Coriandrum sativum In the USA the fresh plant is often referred to as cilantro. The dried seed is referred to as coriander. It is an annual in cold climates, but self-sows readily. This can create spreading problem. Cilantro can take sun/part sun in rich well drained soil. It will go to seed in warm weather so seed in succession to have a constant supply of leaves. The leaves, stems and roots are edible. Young leaves are used in salsas (why I grow it) and for salads. The stems are used for flavoring soups, bean and casseroles dishes. The roots are cooked as vegetables and used in curries. The dried seeds are used as a spice. Tessa says it can be grown indoors, but she finds it to be stinky.
If you plan to dry or freeze herbs, pick them in the early morning, just before the flowers open when the leaves are at their most flavorful. Remove unsightly, damaged or diseased leaves. Gently wash them and then let then remove the excess moisture by allowing them to sit on a paper towel.
Many prefer to air dry herbs, but they can be dried in ovens or food dehydrators. A small amount can even be carefully dried in a microwave oven. They are dry if the leaves crumble off the stem. As with all dried herbs, be careful not to crush the leaves before you plan to use them. Crushing the leaves releases the aromatic essential oils.
Freezing will result in a limp leaf when thawed and are best used in cooked dishes. Marilyn Herman, in a University of Minnesota Extension Service article describes methods of freezing.
Place a few sprigs or leaves in freezer wrap or in an airtight, freezer container.
Spread on a tray or cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When frozen solid, pack into airtight containers.
To use in soups or stew, dice washed herbs and pack into freezer ice cube trays. Fill the spaces with water. Freeze and pop out cubes and put in airtight containers.
The following links have other lists of herbs that you might want to look at to grow in your garden or inside your home:
(This site will lead you to several other links on herb gardening.)
Growing Herbs indoors
You can grow many herbs indoors, but usually less productively. They require the same conditions as herbs that are grown outdoors: plenty of sunlight and fertile, well-drained soil. Most will use indoor grown herb fresh rather than drying or freezing them.
A south or west window is best. Even with maximal light during the winter, you may need to supplement the natural light with “grow lamps” or fluorescent lights.
Herbs grown in a container inside or outdoors will benefit from a soil or potting mix of approximately 2 parts soil mix to 1 part of perlite or sand. Vermiculite may retain too much moisture and cause the damping off previously described in some herbs. Some recommend adding one teaspoon of ground limestone per 5-inch of pot.
Good drainage is important. Avoid leaving water in the overflow saucer at the bottom of the pot. Allow some drying between waterings, but don’t allow wilting.
You can seed annual herbs in pots in late summer. Perennial herbs can be placed outdoors during the summer. Bring back indoors before the first frost.
Fertilize like you do your houseplants. Prune to encourage growth and maintain appearance of the plant.
From Growing Herbs at Home by Ray R. Rothenberger Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri-Columbia as found in savvygardener.com
Inspect your herbs for pests. If in a small container, dip the whole plant in an insecticidal soap and swish for a couple of minutes to coat the entire leaf surface. Repeat 1-2 times a week for about a month to clear up the problem. Plants in larger containers or in your garden can be sprayed with insecticidal soap.
Proverbs 15:17 “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is…”
Next week: rhubarb
Correction on a previous article on composting. A reader noted that there was an error in the list of items to compost. The edited article placed treated lumber and walnut shells with those items that can be composted. When articles get edited they are sometimes reformatted. Parts can be highlighted, cut and then pasted into another area of the article. In this case this method left the last 2 items that shouldn’t be composted with the items that can be composted. This also meant that they were not included in items not to be composted.
Treated lumber products, even with the newest method of pressure treating, probably shouldn’t be composted. Some gardeners won’t even consider using treated lumber in the frames of their raised beds. You will find horticultural specialist that will have differing opinions on whether to use them in the garden. The following statement from Askville by Amazon might clarify the issue of using treated lumber in the frames, “Certain national gardening publications have raised concerns about the safety of using treated lumber in food gardens. Pressure-treated lumber uses CCA (chromated copper arsenate) or ACA (ammoniacal copper arsenate) as a preservative. However, studies done by Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service showed insignificant movement of these compounds into surrounding soil. Pressure-treated lumber has no proven effect on plant growth or food safety. However, on Feb.12, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a voluntary decision by the lumber industry to move consumer use of treated lumber products away from a variety of pressure-treated wood that contains arsenic by Dec. 31, 2003, in favor of new, alternative wood preservatives. Alkaline cooper quaternary (ACQ) is a relatively new wood treatment that is available in some areas of the country. This product is higher in copper than CCA but is free of arsenic.”
As for walnuts shells, the black walnut produces a compound called juglone. This can be toxic to other plants. The following was gleaned from an article produced by the West Virginia Extension Service on Black Walnut Toxicity. Juglone is not only found in in the shell, but in buds, leaves roots and stems. Plants growing next to a black walnut tree can be effected. Other trees producing juglone are butternut, English walnut, pecan, shagbark hickory, and bitternut hickory. The quantities in them are so low that adverse effects to other plants have not been noted. Some plants sensitive to juglone are cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato, tomato, apple, blackberry, and blueberry. Other plants tolerant of juglone are lima beans, snap beans, beets, corn, onions, parsnips, cherries and black raspberries.
I appreciate any input on my articles and if corrections are warranted, I will bring them up in subsequent articles. This gives me an opportunity to clarify some issues especially when there aren’t unanimous opinions on subjects or contradictory information found in the literature.
Send any questions here: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Alan on Apr 24 in Blog tagged cost, Family, food, garden, gardener, grow, herbs, home, Master, money, nutrition, organic, own, prices, Produce, save, small area, vegetables, why? corn soy beans | 10 Comments
This is Dennis Adamson, a Master Gardener to help “Strengthen The Family .”
This Monday I started my 2nd year of Advanced Master Gardener training. It is a 4 year follow-on to the Master Gardener program and has extensive requirements beyond that of the Master Gardener program. You have gotten to know me through my articles (links below) on my cold frame, greenhouse and tomatoes ripening in my workroom. I plan on writing a weekly gardening article for TheFamily to try to get each of you excited about the upcoming gardening season. Gardening can be one of the most rewarding hobbies that you can have. My grandchildren say that they like to come to my farm and pick the fruits and vegetables. My ‘farm’ is a 1/3 acre lot where I have maximized my growing space.
Why garden? (Alan says, “We should all return to our roots”. Ha! )
In this Friday’s newspaper was an AP article by Christopher Rugaber and Jeannine Aversa showing how high food prices will soon spur inflation. Corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains have shot up since last summer. This raises the cost of feeding livestock which in turn raises the price of beef, poultry and dairy products. Bread and produce will also follow suit. Grocers who contained prices last year are expected to increase them this year. While most of us don’t have the land, time or energy to produce grain or livestock, we can grow fruit, herbs and vegetables, even if we live in apartments or have homes on small lots.
There are many other reasons, besides economics, to grow our own gardens:
- ..Nutrition: studies have shown that our nutrition improves when we grow our own produce
- Gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps individual development
- Decreases stress
- Improves our environment
- Can ensure that our produce is grown organically, if so desired
- A positive way to bond with your children and spouse
- Helps build neighborhoods and communities, especially through shared excess produce or community gardens (yes, you too can learn to find hundreds of ways to use zucchini)
- Teaches children responsibility and how nature works
- Being out in nature has been found to increase our satisfaction with life
Isa. 51: 3 …”he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
Next week: Why it is important to know something about plant classification.
My mentor, Larry Sagers, says that there are only 2 kinds of people, “Those that are Master Gardeners and those that want to be Master Gardeners”. For those of you interested in the Master Gardener program, read the following:
The Master Gardener program was started by Washington State University in 1973 and is now found in all 50 US states and at last count in 3 Canadian provinces. The programs are usually administered by the county Extension Services. Utah County is fortunate to have 2 programs. The ones in Utah County start in September. The afternoon one is given at the Utah County Extension Service in Provo, UT under the direction of Adrian Hinton, the USU Extension Horticulturist. The evening program is at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, UT under the direction of Larry Sagers, the USU Extension Horticulture specialist at Thanksgiving Point. He also writes a weekly article on gardening for the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper and he has a garden program on KSL radio on Saturday mornings where individuals can call in to have their gardening questions answered. I did the Thanksgiving Point Master Gardener program in 2007.
The American Horticultural Society states: The Master Gardener program, conducted throughout the United States and Canada, is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners are provided many hours of intense home horticulture training, and in return they “pay back” local university extension agents through volunteerism. Master Gardeners assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations, school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service, research, and many other projects.
Master Gardeners in Utah must complete 40 hours of classroom training, complete comprehensive worksheets and a final exam and do 40 hours of volunteer service to gain a certificate. The title is used only when providing unpaid service for the Extension Service or projects supported or approved by them. It is not intended for private gain or to promote a product, business or individuals. If you are interested in doing the Master Gardener program (no previous experience is needed, just a desire to learn more about gardening) contact your local Extension Service for the times and location of the closest ones to where you live.
Until next week,
For The Family
Links to Previous articles:
By Alan Osmond on Jan 24 in Blog, Videos tagged beans, bone, brain, carrot, celery, doctor, drugs, earth, female, food, God, health, herbs, kidney, male, medical, natural, onion, organs, pharmacy, potato, vegetables | Comments Off
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God’s Pharmacy – presented by Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy.
1 And the Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass
; the herb
yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they ordered.
12 And the Gods organized the earth
to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb
to bring forth herb
from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.
29 And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb
bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat
. Abr. 4: 11-12, 29-30
8 And again, tobacco is not for the abody
, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb
for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs
God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man— D&C 89: 8, 10-11