Monday, January 31, 2011
The Herb Garden.... The Basics
Planting an herb garden is immensely satisfying for besides providing visual beauty as the plants flower, they will provide seasoning for culinary delights, flowers for relaxing baths, and often offer medicinal properties as well. Either used while fresh, or dried for future use, herbs are among the most ancient plants to be utilized by mankind. And the satisfaction of planting and growing your own knows no bounds.
Mint has traveled everywhere~ interloped to fraternize with the Oregano... and the Larkspur was not invited~
The Mint family encompasses an enormous selection and a summer glass of iced tea is naked without a sprig. Spearmint, chocolate mint, peppermint and many other varieties are traditional garden constants. All are fond of warm climates, and may be found in most parts of the world. Most of the mints with the exception of ‘Apple Mint’ tend to travel along the edge of the bed so plan on their wayward wandering when planting them. Containment can become a taxing full time job unless they are allowed to roam. Apple Mint stays where she is planted and will remain lovely and carefree for years.
Apple Mint Below~
Lemon Balm is both an ancient herb and a favorite of bees. It was used among bee keepers in Greece where it was rubbed on hives to keep the bees from swarming by calming them. Taken as a tea, it has been touted to ensure longevity, ease fear, and cure headaches or fatigue. Very easy to grow, it is a native of southern Europe and North Africa, where it has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Today it enjoys continued popularity and brushing by it on an evening stroll through the garden brings a sensory delight.
Perhaps add the beautiful perennial Garden Sage for it has long been a staple in southern culinary. No turkey is complete unless stuffed with sage dressing and sage picked from your garden has a taste more flavorful than any which may be found in processed products. Following blooming slightly prune then allow the plant to recover before cutting stalks to dry. Wait to cut until the morning dew has dried and hang the stems in a dark closet until they have thoroughly dried. A garage or out building is the best place to dry so the leaves are not subject to accidental air conditioning. Once the leaves are crisp, strip them from the branch and seal in an air tight plastic bag.
Love my Sage~
Lavender is not to be forgotten, especially since this Mediterranean native adores our western Oklahoma climate. Dry, sunny, even rocky gardens appeal to this perennial favorite making it easy to grow here. It has been continually cultivated for over 2,500 years and its ability to dispel odor made it useful in Egyptian mummification. In Greece and Rome it was used to scent baths and ease fatigue and by Medieval times it was used as a deodorant and a way to ward off Black Death. Legend has Cleopatra using lavender’s sensual properties to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, which no doubt accounts for its time-tested popularity... which continues today.
Add Some Chives too~
Chives are not only beautiful, but provide sweet early snippets to add to salads, baked potatoes, and anything else that needs a zing!