Chamomile

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Any of us who have dabbled in herbal teas will have heard of chamomile. But do we know any more about this wonderful herb than the brand we usually buy? Ouch!

Here are a few reasons to grow some of your own….

Two main types of chamomile are widely grown; Roman Chamomile (chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Both have similar qualities and are used in similar ways.

Records show that the Egyptians worshiped chamomile and used it in medicinal aids as well as cosmetic preparations. It has been used for centuries all over Europe and was distributed further a-field during the 16th century.

Its daisy like flowers make it an attractive addition to a herb garden and, as the plant is perennial, it will grace your garden for many years.

Chamomile often grows around the edge of gardens and can be found in the wild. It re-seeds itself readily but is easily controlled.

It’s often left to grow between paving slabs and alongside pathways. When walked on, the plant releases a pleasant scent.

Chamomile can grow up to a metre in height but generally it will grow as a shrub around 2-3 feet (60-90cm) high. It makes a good edging plant especially around a lawn or grassed area.

While only the flowers are used in the home, the whole herb is used in commercial beer making. Chamomile tea is widely drunk and can be bought in most supermarkets or health shops.

 

Medicinal uses for Chamomile

Chamomile has mild sedative properties and has, for many years, been made into a soothing and calming tea. It can also aid digestion and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.

Chamomile is used in cosmetic preparations including hair lighteners and shampoos.

It has been found useful for reducing joint inflammation such as arthritis and also easing menstrual cramps.

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*Text from 20 Occasional Herbs; a step by step guide to growing 20 fabulous herbs at home. Listed here: Herb Books 

I need to get some more chamomile started 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Lavender

Lavender-pin

Lavender is probably one of the most well-known herbs and is grown practically all over the world. It’s been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and at some point in history it was used to flavour food because it was believed to help calm the stomach.

Lavender has antiseptic qualities, and has been used in medicines and ointments since Roman times. The ancient Egyptians used it in embalming fluids and placed lavender in the tombs of royalty. And the ancient Greeks used it to treat insect bites, stomach disorders and kidney problems.

Lavender water was believed to cure fainting, nausea and dizziness for many generations. It’s also a favourite ingredient in detergents, air fresheners and pot pourri mixtures used in the home and work place. Lavender clears the head and freshens the environment.

Lavender flowers produce oil which is used in many preparations: perfumes and similar products. They are also useful nectar producing plants which in turn yield high quality honey.

Storing

Lavender rarely needs storing, but the flowers are only available until late summer or autumn, depending on the variety.

Pick flowers and dry them in the sun or a home dryer. Don’t dry too quickly. The flowers can be stored in a glass jar. Use in recipes, pot pourri mixtures and drawer fresheners.

Lavender based products make marvelous gifts.

Medicinal uses for Lavender

The medicinal uses for lavender would require another book to list them all. A sachet filled with dried lavender flowers and placed under the pillow will ensure a good night’s sleep.

Lavender tea is helpful in alleviating stress headaches and migraines, as well as indigestion and colic.

To your herbal delight!

Linda x

20EverydayHerbs

 

 

Text taken from ’20 Everyday Herbs’ listed here

 

 

 

Borage

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Borage was always believed to be the herb of courage and was given to soldiers before going into battle. Hmm, could do with a little courage at the moment!

As well as courage, the herb bestows a general good feeling and is often added to alcoholic drinks and summer punches. It has been used for centuries as a herb to make you feel good, and therefore said to alleviate depression.

In Roman times much was recorded about borage and right through to the Middle Ages the flowers were added to salads. The leaves and flowers were used in cordials. In recent years, borage hasn’t been so widely used but it is a wonderful plant to have available.

It’s an annual herb, although can sometimes be biennial, growing to about 3 or 4 feet (1m+) tall. It produces beautiful star shaped bright blue flowers that attract bees and other wildlife.

The flowers are most often used in decorating sweet dishes such as celebration cakes and the young leaves are used in salads. The stem and larger leaves can be cooked as a vegetable. The leaves have a slight cucumber taste making it a refreshing herb to have in the herb garden.

Recently I’ve seen some reports of borage not being safe for internal use, but according to Botannical.com, at the time of writing, there are some interesting medicinal uses.

20OccasionalHerbs

 

I included Borage in ’20 Occasional Herbs’ which is a handy download if you’re thinking about growing your own herb garden, or just a few herbs in pots!

Choose your favourite supplier over at Herb Books

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

 

P.S. The picture above is of my own borage plant which germinated from a packet of very old seeds. Only got the one plant, but didn’t really expect any to grow – result!

 

 

Herb or Spice?

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Is it a Herb or is it a Spice?

The difference between herbs and spices is simply the part of the plant used.

The leaves and flowers of a plant are generally regarded as the herbs, while the seeds, roots, stigmas and even the bark are considered to be spices.

For many thousands of years, herbs have been considered magical plants – humans have used them for millennia as food and as medicine. Those who knew what to do with herbs were sometimes treated with suspicion and sometimes revered.

Spices, on the other hand, were shrouded in mystery until recent times – their exotic nature and origins were mythologized by the spice traders over the centuries to keep the prices as high as possible.

in our present information-packed world we can have it all, and growing herbs and spices at home is one of the most satisfying projects anyone can take on.

The wonderful taste of herbs and spices can encourage even the most jaded palate to enjoy good food again. And the more good food we eat the less we want the stuff that is not so good for us!  ( extract from Herbs & Spices Herb Books  )

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Herb Growing Kit

Found this fabulous herb gift pack at Thompson & Morgan UK

The kit features five unique packets of seeds allowing you to grow Rocket Salad, Basil Sweet Garden, Parsley Moss Curled, Coriander (leaf) to Garlic Chives.

Basil Sweet Green is an interesting alternative to traditional sweet basil, this variety has hints of mint and clove.

The packet of Parsley Moss Curled Seeds produces tightly curled, rich green leaved parsley that is ideal for using as a garnish or for adding to soups and sauces.

Garlic Chives, also known as Chinese chives, differ from traditional chives, they bare flat leaves and a delicate mild garlic flavour, making an excellent addition to salads, stews, fish, egg and meat dishes.

The Coriander Seeds (Leaf) provide an extremely quick growing herb that is particularly popular in Asian Cuisine, it bares aromatic leaves that can really add flavour to a dish.

Rocket Salad is a leader in the salad market for its peppery flavour, this is the perfect contrast to other salad leaves.

Simply soak the peat disks provided in water, they expand to roughly seven times their original size, crumble it into the peat starter growing pots and add the seeds. There are even handy garden tips to instruct you on how to grow and care for your new colourful crops, maximizing your potential yield.
This kit contains:
1 x Packet of Rocket Salad Seeds
1 x Packet of Basil Sweet Green Seeds
1 x Packet of Parsley Moss Curled Seeds
1 x Packet of Coriander (leaf) Seeds
1 x Packet of Garlic Chive Seeds
1 x Pair of Garden Snips
5 x Starter Growing Peat Pots
5 x Plant Markers
5 x Peat Growing Plugs

Treat someone you love to this gorgeous gift (UK delivery only) Herb Kit

Happy Herb Gardening!
Linda x

Parsley Power

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Parsley is one of the best known herbs, but strangely probably one of the most under-used ones.

It’s generally used as a garnish and left on the side of the plate which is a shame because parsley is one of the few herbs that is high in iron content, as well as vitamins such as vitamin C.

In fact, gram for gram parsley contains more vitamin C than most citrus fruits.

There are various types of parsley. The most common home grown ones tend to be the curly leaved type and Italian flat leaved parsley. Both are equally delicious and nutritious.

Parsley is a great breath freshening herb and should be eaten, preferably chewed, after a meal containing garlic to dispel any lingering odours.

Chop fresh parsley leaves and mix them into salads and other dishes, or instead of using a sprig to garnish, finely chop the leaves and sprinkle over the meal. It will definitely get eaten then!

Parsley was used to adorn head-dresses as well as meals in Roman times, and was, and still is, a very decorative herb to have growing in a pot on your windowsill or outdoors in the garden.

(Extract from Growing Herbs at Home)

Have a great day!

Linda x

This is my most popular herb download 🙂 and now available from:

growingherbsathome

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*Also Featured* in the Ekokids shop at Etsy

Vampires Begone!

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Garlic has so many myths and legends attached to it they would probably fill a whole book, although we do know for sure that it keeps vampires away, so for that reason alone we should definitely grow some!

Garlic is part of the onion family although it is considered to be a herb. It has been cultivated for over 5000 years and wild garlic has been around even longer.

In Roman times it was believed to bestow strength and was given to soldiers. It’s also been used as an effective hangover cure, apparently.

Garlic is an excellent herb to have available in your garden. The bulbs store well if kept in the right conditions and can be used through the winter months. Garlic tends to grow easily and needs little looking after.

It has medicinal qualities and is said to cleanse and purify the blood. Garlic is believed to protect against colds and flu and is used to treat infections. It has anti-fungal qualities and is also known to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

*Extract from ‘Growing Herbs at Home’ on our Herb Books page

Embracing nature,
Linda x

Just Basil

Just Basil pin

Basil has that gorgeous smell of summer and can and should be added to your meals every day – unless you have an allergy, then definitely ignore that!

Basil is native to southern Asia and the Middle East but will grow as an annual plant in most moderate climates. It was introduced to Europe as a culinary herb in the 16th century.

Basil has, for centuries, been considered to be a herb of love and purity and myths and legends have often been attached to it such as:
The belief that it will open the gates of heaven, or
That a sprig worn in the hair will attract your loved one.
Well, anyway….

It’s been cultivated for thousands of years and been used medicinally as well as in the kitchen for just as long. It was believed to cure many different ailments from coughs and colds through to digestive aids. Perhaps the most common use of basil today is its addition to tomato dishes and many people refer to it as the tomato herb.

Medicinal uses for Basil
Basil belongs to the same family of plants as mint and is considered to be a good digestive aid. Herbalists use it to help cure headaches, constipation and sickness.
A small cup of basil tea after a meal aids digestion.
It has also been used cosmetically to add shine to dull hair.

Storing
Basil is always tastier if used fresh but can be stored by freezing or drying.

To Dry:
Hang sprigs or small bunches upside down in a dark, warm but airy room until dry. Crumble leaves into a sealable glass jar and label. Store out of direct light.

To Freeze:
Freeze whole sprigs quickly on a flat tray and store in the freezer in sealable containers. Label.

Growing
Grow a pot or two on the kitchen windowsill, outside in your herb garden or anywhere in between!

Enjoy 🙂

Linda x

P.S. This is kind of an extract from ’20 Everyday Herbs’ where there’s lots of growing info along with nineteen other everyday herbs you could be enjoying at home… Pop over to Herb Books and you can download from iTunes, Barnes & Noble. Kobo and yes, even Amazon!

Daisy Love

Daisy Love!

Daisies aren’t as rich in uses as dandelions but shouldn’t be ignored. The daisy family of plants includes many healing herbs such as chamomile and feverfew. The common daisy has been the subject of many myths and legends over the centuries and has been part of the landscape for as long as records can be traced.

In the 14th century, with daisies as the main ingredient, an ointment was used to cure wounds, and the daisy was considered to be a cure for all aches and pains for many years.

In Medieval times it was thought that seeping daisies in wine and drinking for 21 days would cure liver problems – this seems a little counter-productive now, but you never know!

The leaves of a daisy can be eaten and have been grown as a pot herb, but the sap inside the leaf is very bitter and is not widely eaten these days.

A tisane made from daisy flowers, drunk regularly, is said to help cure:

-coughs
-arthritis
-headaches
-muscle pains
-mouth ulcers

The flower essence may also be valuable in treating symptoms of shock and calming the nervous system. A few daisies infused with your favourite herbal tea can calm the system and encourage a good night’s sleep.

Daisies symbolize innocence, gentleness and purity and have been adored by children for pretty much always.

Leave them to grow in the lawn and make daisy chains this summer 🙂

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

P.S. Please don’t self-medicate unless you check with your GP first or you really know what you’re doing! This post isn’t a medical cure, but simply an overview of a pretty flower and it’s history.

Herbal Rescue

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Companion planting helps with maintenance in a garden. Certain plants grow well together and will get along happily without you having to do much. Herbs deter many pests because of their strong scent, and other useful components.
Here are a few examples of herbs with their good and bad companions…

 

Basil:

-Good with tomatoes, peppers and asparagus
-Avoid growing near sage
-Repels many insects, including mosquitoes and flies
-Attracts butterflies
-Grown with chamomile, the essential oil will be stronger

Borage:

-Good with almost anything, especially strawberries and squash plants
-A magic herb. Welcome everywhere in the garden.
-Repels insects
-Attracts honeybees

Chives:

-Good with apples, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli etc;) and carrots
-Avoid growing near peas and beans
-Repels carrot fly and aphids

Dill:

-Good with cabbages, lettuce and cucumbers
-Avoid growing with carrots and tomatoes
-Repels spider mite and aphids
-Attracts wasps and honeybees
-Same family as fennel and is one of the few plants that will grow with fennel. Fennel should be planted away from most other plants in the garden, although it does attract ladybirds.

Garlic:

-Good with cucumbers, apples and pears, lettuce and peas
-Will grow happily with most plants
-Repels aphids, ants and rabbits

Lovage:

-Another magic herb, good to grow with almost anything
-Lovage doesn’t like to grow too close to rhubarb
-Attracts wasps and ground beetles (good bugs)
-Lovage, like borage, is said to improve the health of most plants.

Oregano:

-Good to grow alongside many plants, including tomatoes and peppers
-Repels aphids
-Allow to spread around pepper plants for extra humidity

Mint:

-Good to grow with brassicas (including all kale varieties and cabbages.)
-Repels cabbage fly and ants
-All mint varieties have similar properties

Nasturtium:

-Good to grow with many plants including squashes, tomatoes, beans and some brassicas,
-Avoid planting near cauliflower or radish
-Said to be one of the best herbs for attracting predatory insects
-Repels aphids, cucumber beetle and white fly

Rosemary:

-Particularly good to grow with beans, as well as carrots, cabbage and sage
-Repels the bean beetle
-Perfect companion herb for deterring many bean bugs

Sage:

-Similar to rosemary, good with beans, carrots and cabbage
-Avoid growing basil near to sage. The basil probably won’t thrive.
-Attracts honeybees
-Repels black flea beetle, carrot fly and cabbage fly

TheHerbGarden

 

Text taken from The Herb Garden

Choose your favourite supplier:

Amazon US, Amazon UK, iTunes, Kobo, Payhip, Barnes & Noble,

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

 

Herbs can Save the World

herbscansavetheworld

Herbs can Save the World!
I read somewhere that pasta sauces reach 9 out of 10 consumers. How many jars and lids does that add up to I wonder?

I have no idea where to start doing the math, but I think we’re into the billions – of jars sold every year. Ouch.

Where do all those un-recyclable bits go?

Before I start ranting about landfills and killing wildlife, I’m going to share a few points that may make a difference to the way we believe these pasta sauces are convenient. They are certainly quick to use but are we missing something here?

1: The cost of one jar could take 15 minutes to earn… even if you are highly paid, it’s still going to be a few seconds or minutes of your time; working hard to earn enough to buy the jar of sauce that could possibly save 1 or 2 minutes in the kitchen….

2: Whatever way you look at it, it’s processed. There are organic, no-additive sauces available, although usually higher in price (rightly so) but they never have that just-picked taste that you’ll get if you really push the boat out and grow a few tomato plants this year, or buy organic tomatoes.

3: Mini-rant time. The number of plastic tops that get thrown in our oceans and great gaping holes in the ground every day is horrifying. Even if pasta sauces only reach 5 out of 10 consumers, just imagine how many plastic lids we don’t need to make, in the first place.

And now, let’s flip the coin….

Generally a sauce for pasta needs to be a little thick so it tastes and kind of ‘feels’ right. This is where we have to be flexible.. although processing is not so great, a little tomato puree will go a long way..

One tube of puree does, I agree, have a plastic top; although smaller, it’s still a plastic top. I am trying to get some advice about recycling tops but for now, back to the sauce….

Armed with a tube of puree, enter the herb to save the world!

1: A basil plant on your windowsill will repel flies from your home, but more importantly you will have fresh basil leaves available at your fingertips. Pick a few, chop them (a few seconds) and throw them in with the tomato puree.

2: The fresh taste of herbs,whether you use basil, coriander or mint, is incomparible; and every leaf will contain vitamins and minerals you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Oh and don’t forget, almost ZERO calories.

3: You’ll certainly be doing your bit for the environment, if you can reduce your plastic top consumption .. you know what I mean … by a third, that would make a huge difference to the pollution problems the world is facing. Our children shouldn’t have to live with this rubbish.

I snuck in a little extra rant there didn’t I? Sorry..

Growing a plant or two isn’t like an extra chore. How many times a day do you go to your kitchen sink? at least once probably.

Every day, or sometimes less, your plant will benefit from a very small glass of water. You don’t have to make it a cup of tea. A tiny sprinkle of water will do. This takes only a second or two.

Greenery in the kitchen always makes the room feel more alive, and the smells are wonderful. If you have ever thought about growing a few herbs, or branching out into the garden and growing vegetables, do it! It’s one of those things you never regret. If you lose a plant or two, well, so be it. Try again. The most professional gardener will lose a plant from time to time.

But, even if you haven’t got any outside space to play in, a few herbs on the windowsill will not only encourage a healthier diet, but will also help save the planet!

Download a copy of Growing Herbs at Home now and you’ll have inspiration and information at your fingertips…

growingherbsathome

 

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Happy Gardening!

Linda x