Feature of the Month? How about Herbs?
Do you have an Herb Garden?
Plants for People

You may have thought that herbs are just for cooking. Not so–an herb is any plant that serves a purpose other than providing food, wood, or beauty. Herbs give us dyes for cloth, essential oils for fragrances, medicines, and even insecticides. And herbs are not just annual or perennial plants–many of our most important herbal products come from trees and shrubs

Perhaps inexperienced gardeners as well as those who have not yet had the pleasure of growing these interesting plants will give some thought to starting a small herb garden. Some people even start an indoor herb garden in their kitchen. Even a small plot 4 by 6 feet will grow all a small family would need. If not grown for use in cooking, herbs are worth growing for pleasant aromatic foliage and some of them for the beauty of the flowers as well. Herbs can be used fresh for garnish in salads and to perk up the flavors of bland vegetables or to add flavor to meats and stews in which case one needs only to nip off a few leaves when wanted.

To dry herbs for winter use cut off tops of the leafy varieties in midsummer and wash them off with cold water. Hang them up just long enough for the drops of water to evaporate, then tie the stems together and place in a paper bag with stem ends at the opening and close the bag with a rubber band. Use a paper clip as a hook through the band and place the other hooked end over your line where you are going to hang the herbs to dry, indoors. After 2 or 3 weeks remove from paper bags, crumble the leaves and place on a shallow pan and dry out in the oven with the setting at "warm" or at least not over 100 degrees.

Some herb enthusiasts dry them by spreading them out on trays or sheets of hardware cloth covered with cheese cloth and place in a dry area. To dry seed heads allow them to grow until seeds are mature and ready to drop from the plant. Cut seed heads on a very dry day and spread on clean paper (not newspaper). It is better to keep them in the sun the first day as little insects, which may have been secreted in the heads, will leave as the seeds dry out. Store herbs in glass jars or other airtight containers in a cool place.


My Favorite Herb is Basil

Common or Sweet Basil which is used in medicine and also for culinary purposes, especially in France, is a hairy, labiate plant, growing about 3 feet high. The stem is obtusely quadrangular, the labiate flowers are white, in whorls in the axils of the leaves, the calyx with the upper lobe rounded and spreading. The leaves, greyish-green beneath and dotted with dark oil cells, are opposite, 1 inch long and 1/3 inch broad, stalked and peculiarly smooth, soft and cool to the touch, and if slightly bruised exale a delightful scent of cloves.



This site was last updated 05/15/11