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"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack
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Bouquet Garni Herbs
Established in 1978 for those that love good food, good health and good fun
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Starting a Herb Garden
The rewards of growing herbs are far greater than with other plants. Other plants in the garden are mostly planted for their decorative value. Herbs, on the other hand, can also be used for a myriad of other purposes that stretch from flavouring your food to curing your flu to ridding your home of insects. Herbs are some of the easiest, most grateful plants to grow. If you follow the following basic guidelines, they will richly reward you with their flavours and aromas. Site
The ideal site for a herb garden is a sunny, open but sheltered spot with well-drained
fertile soil. As far as possible it should be free from weeds and overhanging trees
and have good access to the house so that the herbs can be harvested in all
Most of the herbs that we can successfully grow in our country originated in the warmer climates of the world where they grow in the warm sun. It is these conditionsthat we must create for them. The minimum requirement is four to seven hours of direct sun per day. Remember that your herbs will grow even if they get less sun. They may tend to grow scraggly and will be more susceptible to diseases, but with a little extra attention they will still be successful.
Herbs are like most people: they do not like to have 'wet feet.' It is very important that your soil have good drainage. Most herbs will survive in poor sandy soil, but few will tolerate wet clay soil.
Culinary herbs should be planted away from possible contamination by pets, roadside pollution and agricultural sprays.
If you would like to find out more about selecting the best site for your herb garden read my Herb Garden Site Selection article.
The appeal of a small formal herb garden remains timeless. Formal designs are
based on geometric patterns, which are framed by low hedges and paved paths. For
maximum impact each bed is planted with one kind of herb, giving bold blocks of
colour and texture.
Paving is an essential element, accentuating the formal lines and geometric design.
Natural shades, like sand, terracotta or grey, contrast beautifully with the herbs, adding to the design element. The pathways and stepping stones also provideaccess to the herbs for ease of harvesting. Planting tips
Prepare the ground well in advance, remove weeds (they compete for nutrition), fork
in organic matter, such as compost, and rake the soil so that the bed is level. You
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
don't need to add large amounts of manure or fertiliser because that produces soft growth. My article on site preparation will give you some additional tips on the preparation of your herb garden. Before transplanting herbs out of their "nursery" pots into the ground, water the pots well because a dry root-ball is difficult to wet thoroughly once it is in the ground.
Because "nursery" pots are small, herbs tend to become root bound. To encouragenew root growth gently loosen the root ball before planting in the ground. Pinch out the tips of shrubby herbs, like thyme, to encourage bushy growth. Add some bone meal or fishmeal at the bottom of each planting hole.
If you are using a planting plan, first set the herbs in their positions. It is easier to move them around while they are still in their pots, rather than having to transplant them later. Space them according to their expected height and spread so they have room to develop. After planting firm the soil gently around the plant and water thoroughly to settle the soil and give the herb a good start.
Some herbs, like the spearmint, can be invasive. Restrict their spread by planting them in sunken containers. Remove any spreading material immediately. Repot them yearly with fresh soil. Caring for your herbs
Water newly planted herbs regularly but once they are established, they are naturally
drought resistant. Watering and drainage goes hand in hand. Rather give your herbs
too little than too much water. After a good soaking, allow the water to drain away
and the soil to dry off. Water again when the top 2 or 3 cm of soil is dry to the touch.
Mulch your herbs once a year with bulky organic material, such as shredded bark.
Inorganic fertilising and heavy composting is not recommended because this
produces sappy growth that's more prone to disease and pests.
Fertilizing is very important, especially if you intend to use your herbs on a regular basis. During the growing season (August to April) fertilize at least once a month. During the winter months one or two doses will be sufficient. Use any balanced fertilizer like 2:3:2. Always half the dosage given on the packaging. The reason for this is that the essential oils of herbs that 'suffer' a bit are more concentrated,increasing their flavour, aroma and medicinal value. If your herbs get too muchfertilizer they will grow scraggly and be more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Please note: If you are growing herbs for medicinal purposes do not use artificialfertilzers. Use organics. You can also try your own compost tea. Pruning is essential to encourage healthy, bushy growth. Remove dead leaves and flowers on a regular basis. Should you frequently use your herbs, pruning may not be necessary as you would be pruning automatically. Herbs are not very prone to pests but if you do have an infestation (aphids, red spider, white fly) either cut back the herbs or use an organic pesticide like the Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Collect small quantities at a time and handle them as little as possible.
Do not cut herbs at random. Take the opportunity to pinch out or prune the plant at
the same time, removing unwanted shoots and encouraging bushiness. Use a sharp
knife or scissors, do not break, bend or tear off the branches. Always harvest from
clean, healthy plants in peak condition
Herb Garden - Site Selection
The idea that a herb garden should be near the kitchen may be ignored. It is more important that your herb garden should look neat and that you are able to reach each plant with ease. Remember that herbs are undemanding plants, easy to grow and look after on a small scale. They are not fussy as to soil or any special treatment, although, as with all living things, the more care and attention they receive, the better they flourish.
The most important factor to consider when deciding where to grow herbs, is the amount of sunshine the plants will receive. Herbs need the maximum amount of sunshine in order to produce their full flavour and fragrance.
The optimum site will be the warmest, sunniest spot in your garden. If this site isprotected from strong winds, even better. If you are living in an area which is subjectto strong winds, you will have to seriously consider protecting your herbs. If possible,avoid frost pockets. Do not despair if you do not have a site that fits these requirements. Herbs can be grown successfully under less favourable conditions. Shady conditions will produce softer, more lush growth and they will be more prone to attacks from insects and diseases. Keeping a watchful eye on them will alert you in time to take action. Herbs do no require lots of space themselves. A very small area will therefore harbor enough plants to supply the needs of most families. Exactly what we mean with small can be illustrated by the fact that one square meter will be enough for roughly ten herb plants.
If at all possible, devote one specific area to your herbs. It makes it a lot easier to care for them and it adds a valuable feature to your garden. If you have a vegetable patch, consider growing your herbs together with your vegetables. They are extremely good bedfellows. They can also be planted in your herbaceous borders orin containers.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Herb Garden Site Preparation
Good drainage is one of the most important aspects of growing herbs. Most herbs will survive in poor sandy soils, but few are able to cope with water-logged soils. Herbs hate wet feet caused by poor drainage and will show their discontent by growing poorly. Ask your local nurseryman to advise you on your type of soil and how to improve it if necessary.
While preparing the soil for planting, get rid of all the weeds. Those that have tap roots need to be lifted, taking care not to break off any pieces as they will almost certainly sprout again. The time and trouble you take at this stage to rid the area of weeds will be well rewarded in the future. Remember not to throw the uprooted weeds on the compost heap - you'll only transplant them. Most herbs prefer a slightly alkaline soil. If your soil is acidic you can add a sprinklingof lime. This will act as a catalyst to help your herbs make optimum use of the nutrients present in the soil. Your herbs will definitely benefit from the addition of compost of kraal manure. Apart from improving the texture of the soil it also helps to retain moisture and nutrients. A layer of 5 cm worked into the top 30 cm of your soil will be sufficient in most cases.
Although this can be an expensive exercise if you have a large garden, it will be worth the expense in the long run. Another beneficial addition at this stage is bone meal. If you know your soil is poor or lacking in minerals, you can add a sprinkling of2:3:2 or an organic fertilizer. Dig the whole area to a depth of at least 45 cm, adding the compost etc. Rake to a smooth level surface. You are now ready to proceed with the planting of your herbs. When you buy herb plants in a nursery, water them well and let them stand for half an hour or more before planting. Dig a hole twice as large as the pot. Remove the plant from the pot by holding it upside down and tapping the edge of the pot against a table. Loosen the roots at the bottom of the root ball slightly. Set the plant in its hole and fill it up with soil to the same level as it was in the pot. Water the entire area thoroughly after planting.
Mulching will help to prevent the soil from drying out and it can also supply nutrients. It also helps to control weed-growth by blocking out sunlight. Mulching material can be bought at your local nursery or you can use material from your garden. The Mediterranean herbs, such as sage and rosemary, will benefit more from a mulch of gravel if the soil is very moist.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Spring veggies you can grow
Herbs and vegetables are natural companions, in the sense that if you grow fresh herbs you're bound to also love the idea of harvesting your own home grown tomatoes, beans, lettuce and anything else in season. We can dream after all! At a number of my workshops I've been asked about growing vegetables so I've decidedto call in the experts. Leonie Coulson at Kirchhoffs has come up with an extensive list of veggies that can be sown in the garden or in pots from mid to end August. Salad vegetables
Tomatoes (good varieties are 'Heinz 1370', 'Moneymaker', 'Oxheart', 'Floridade'),
cucumber (if you have space because it's a ground creeper), lettuce (especially
those that don't form a head, like Lollo Rosso, Lollo Biondo because the individual
leaves can be harvested for up to three months) sprouts and radishes ('Sparkler' and
'Cherry Belle').
NB: For lettuce chose a spot that gets afternoon shade or dappled sunshinebecause full sun in summer is too hot and the lettuce will quickly go to seed.
Vegetables for small gardens Spinach (especially 'Bright Lights) beetroot, lettuce, bush beans, eggplant, chillies, summer cabbage ('Cape Spits) and leeks. All these are compact growing vegetablesand veggies like lettuce, beetroot and spinach can be used as borders. Chillies alsomake beautiful pot plants.
Vegetables in pots
Tomatoes can be a bit overwhelming for a garden bed but you can plant a tomato
bush in a large pot (about 20 litre) and train it up a trellis or pyramid. To contain its
growth pinch off the growing tips when it reaches the desired size otherwise you
could have a monster. The small cherry tomato 'Sweety' is particularly good in pots.
Other runner plants like peas and beans can also be planted in pots and supported
on a frame. Try chillies and eggplant in pots as well.
Vegetables for large gardens
If you are lucky enough to have plenty of space you can also grow the more rambling types of vegetables like squash, patty pans, cucumber, and watermelon.
Like herbs, vegetables do best if grown in a sunny position. Prepare the beds by digging them over well and mixing in compost. Growing veggies from seed is muchcheaper than buying seedlings and most veggies can be sown in situ. Just store theleft over seeds in the seed packet in the fridge or in a dark drawer and they will remain viable for longer.
There's a saying that " a good gardener always plants three seeds - one for the grubs, one for the weather and one for himself." It seems to work. Keep the soil moist during germination and thin out the seedlings when they are big enough to handle.
For a good crop fertilise with Margaret Roberts Supercharger two weeks after germination and at monthly intervals after that. All the planting instructions are on the "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
seed packet (planting depth, final spacing etc) so don't forget to read theinstructions! To control insects spray with Ludwig's Insect Spray or Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide. Both are ECOCERT approved for use by organic gardeners.
And a last word from Prince Charles - "To get the best results you must talk to your vegetables".
For any help or further information contact or visit the website "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Potted Sunshine
Just the ability to pick fresh herbs or lighten a winter meal with a crunchy home-grown salad makes winter feel a lot less drab, grey and long. Growing herbs and vegetables in winter does take a bit more effort and care; after all its not their natural growing season. But growth does continue, although at a slower pace and by choosing hardy herbs and vegetables that prefer cooler conditions it is possible to keep a supply of fresh greens on the table.
In summer rainfall areas where there is frost you need a sheltered, draught-free area that catches the sun. Watch the movement of the sun and move your potsaccordingly. Most kitchen courtyards are south facing and cold during winter so you need to seek out north facing patios and balconies or corners that are east or west facing and receive at least four hours sun a day.
In winter rainfall areas there is less need for protection, especially with herbsbecause most are indigenous to the Mediterranean so they prefer hot dry summers and cold, wet winters. Here the challenge is to make sure that the pots have good drainage and the potting soil is fairly light. Although growth slows down it is still important to fertilise monthly, especially if you are harvesting continuously. Herbs to grow in winter
The first step is to pick herbs that are hardy enough to weather cold high-veld
winters. Bouquet Garni's Di-Di Hoffman recommends thyme, oreganum, chervil,
parsley and sage for culinary use. Thyme, sage and parsley also have strong
medicinal properties and to complement them he suggests growing hyssop (for
bronchitis) and yarrow (for infections and fevers).
"Herbs like sweet basil, borage, lemon balm, rocket, and the various mints are too tender and will die down so its worth treating them as summer annuals," he says. Herbs need at least four hours sun in winter and a sheltered position. For this reason they should be grown in pots so they can follow the sun, says Hoffman.
"Choose containers that are a minimum of 20cm in diameter, have drainage holes and are deep enough for the herb's roots to develop. Use a normal commercial potting soil that drains well." Herbs don't like wet feet so don't put saucers underneath the pots. Check the soil moisture levels daily because the soil should not dry out completely. Generally potted herbs only need to be watered one or twice a week in winter, preferably in the morning. Feed once a month with a liquid fertiliser, like the Margaret Roberts Supercharger, Nitrosol or Multifeed, at half the required strength.
"When harvesting collect small quantities at a time and always leave two growth points on the twig for re-shooting. Instead of cutting at random rather use the opportunity to pinch out or prune the plant to encourage bushiness. Once pickedhandle the herbs as little as possible because the subtle nuances of flavour are lost if handled or allowed to wilt," says Hoffman. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Here are the herbs he recommends,
Tiemie/Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is the hardiest of all the herbs. It makes a small, bushy potplant and the more the leaves are picked the better it does. An infusion, especially of lemon-scented thyme, helps relieve coughs and colds. In the kitchen thyme can be used, in casseroles and stews, to garnish roasts or added to salad dressings and salads. Thyme is also an excellent anti-oxidant and tonic, supportingthe body's normal functions, building the immune system and countering the effects of aging. Salie/Sage (Salvia officinalis) needs a little more nurturing than thyme and its growth tends to slow down and leaves get smaller in August. It needs full sun, must not be overwatered and should be kept out of draughts. Sage is a robust herb that stands up well to cooking especially in slow simmered casseroles, roasts and grills. It alsocombines well with cheese. An infusion of sage leaves can be used to treat colds and coughs and it also makes an excellent gargle for sore throats. To make a Sage gargle infuse 3 teaspoons fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, strainand cool. Gargle three times a day. Pietersielie/Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) needs full sun if grown in a pot and the soil should be kept moist. Regular feeding encourages the production of leaves, which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and Iron. Even better, parsley has anti-oxidant properties that neutralise cancer-promoting agents. Build your immune system by eating two tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley each day. Sprinkle it on salads,add it to meat, pasta or cheese sauces at the end of cooking or juice it up in a blender with apple or tomato juice. Always pick the outer leaves, and extend the plant's life by cutting off the flowering head. The flat-leaf Italian parsley is even easier to grow than the moss curled variety and it has a more distinctive taste.
Kerwel/Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a hardy annual that actually prefers cooler weather and not full sun conditions. Its delicate, fern like leaves make it a very attractive container plant. The leaves are full of vitamin C and have a slightly aniseedtaste. It's best used like parsley, chopped as a garnish or added to salads, soups, sauces, vegetables and meat dishes at the end of cooking. It loses its taste when dried so use fresh. An infusion of the leaves stimulates digestion, relieves head colds, and acts as a blood cleanser.
Oreganum/Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is one of the more robust winter herbs, easily withstanding winter frost but liking full sun. The more you harvest the better it grows. It has a strong aromatic taste ideal for rich winter food, but use sparingly or it can be overpowering. An infusion of oregano can be used to treat coughs, tiredness and irritability.
Hisop/Hyssop (hyssopus officinalis) is a lesser-known herb that grows well in potsand tolerates quite cold weather. It has a bushy form and attractive spikes of blue flowers. Both the leaves and flowers can be used in an infusion to treat bronchitisand loosen mucus. The leaves have a peppery taste and are a good addition to thick soups and stews. Duisenblad/Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a hardy perennial makes a beautiful pot plant with its feathery leaves and pink flowers. Grow in a sunny position in deep, "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
wide pots and keep the soil moist. Yarrow is a good indicator plant because it's always the first to show that watering is needed. It's principally a medicinal herb can be used to bring down fevers, and helps relieve infections, influenza, and sinusitis.
Both the leaves and flowers of the plant are used as an infusion. Add peppermint or a teaspoon of honey if you find the leaves a bit bitter. Vegetables to grow in winter
Don't try and sow vegetable seed during June and July because the ground
temperatures are too cold for germination. But that doesn't mean you cant grow
vegetables. Lettuce, broad beans, kale, radishes, sugar snap peas and spinach will
have been sown in May and are available as seedlings from nurseries. They can be
grown in pots in a sunny, sheltered position and should receive at least four hours of
sun a day, says Leonie Coulson, of Kirchhoffs.
Although growth is slower because the lower soil temperature reduces the uptake of food, it is still important to fertilise. The new all-round fertiliser, Ludwig's Vigorosa 5:1:5 (25) contains humic acid, which allows the root to absorb nutrients moreefficiently.
Sprouts can be grown all year round because they can be sprouted indoors and
grown on a sunny windowsill. Margaret Roberts and Kirchhoffs have put together a
special sprouting mix consisting of Mung beans, Chickpeas, lentils, Alfalfa and Soya
Sprouters are available from health food shops but a quick sprouter can be made from a wide-mouthed glass jar covered with cheesecloth tied with a rubber band. Place seeds into the jar, cover with water and leave overnight. Pour the beans into a sieve the next morning and rinse under running water. Rinse bottle and return beans to the damp bottle. Cover with cheese cloth and secure. Tilt jar to get rid of excess water, otherwise beans will rot and go sour. The washing procedure must be repeated every morning and evening - in three days the beans will be ready to eat. LettuceLettuce is an easy vegetable to grow in pots. It needs a rich potting soil mix and should be watered regularly. Plant a row of lettuce in a window box or encircle a standard or tree topiary. Varieties with interesting or coloured leaves are very decorative.
The loose leafed varieties are the most practical because you can harvest the individual leaves for up to three months before replanting. Others, like the butterhead or iceberg, are picked when the heads form so its best to sow seed at sow at three to four weekly intervals to have a constant supply. Fertilise monthly with Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger or Ludwig's Vigorosa. Strawberries and marigolds are good companion plants.
Suggested varieties: "Salad Mixed" (a variety of loose leafed and crisp lettuce), 'All Year Round' (Butterhead), Lollo Rossa and Lollo Biondo (Loose Leafed). Spinach or Swiss Chard also needs full sun and a potting mix that is rich but drainseasily. Spinach needs regular watering and frequent feeding to produce lots of lush "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
green leaves. It will produce over an extended period if the leaves are picked regularly. Spinach is ideal for pots because the plants only need to be 20cm apart. For something different and colourful, try the new 'Bright Lights' with its red and yellow stems and different coloured leaves.
Suggested varieties: 'Bright lights', 'Swiss Chard Lucullus', 'Fordhook Giant'.
Radishes. This zesty little vegetable adds colour and a tang to salads. It is ready for harvesting within a month so seedlings should be planted at regular intervals to ensure a yearlong supply. Radishes can be grown 3cm apart so they are ideal for small, sunny spots in between other plants or in pots.
Suggested varieties: 'Sparkler' and 'Cherry Belle'.
Broad BeansBroad beans thrive in well-fertilised and well-drained soil so it is important to plant them in deep, wide containers at least 40cm in diameter. They are climbers so the growth needs to be supported and trained. Make a pyramid from stakes tied together or buy a more ornamental obelisk and turn your bean plant into a garden feature.
Water regularly especially during flowering and when the pods are developing. For larger pods pinch out the growing point when the lowest pods are 75mm long. Young beans, no thicker than a finger and 75mm long are the most delicious and can be cooked in their pods. A word of warning, do not disturb the plants when in flower as this may result in failure to set pot. For an optimum harvest, fertilise with Margaret Roberts Supercharger once a month.
Suggested variety: Aquadulce KaleKale is a valuable winter vegetable that is extremely hardy. It likes rich soil so pottingsoil should be enriched with an addition of compost and plants should be fed monthly with Margaret Roberts supercharger or Ludwigs Vigorosa. Plant seedlings 40cm apart, which means that a large, deep pot should accommodate about five plants which should provide a regular harvest of leaves. Cut the centre of each plant first to encourage the production of fresh side shoots. The leaves are rich in vitamin C and iron. To prepare Kale for cooking strip the long leaves from the tough stem, shred them away from the white midribs and cook like spinach.
Suggested variety: Chou Moullier Marrow Stem Sugar Snap peas should be planted 40 cm apart and staked for a tidy effect and for ease of picking. Plants grow between 75 to 100cm high and the first fruit should be ready for harvest within 120 days. Water regularly especially when in flower. Pick regularly so that the pods do not become tough. Petunias are good companion plants as they deter caterpillars.
Information on veggies supplied by Ball Straathof. For further information contact (011) 794 2316 or
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Herb Gardening in Containers
Herbs can be grown very successfully in containers and can be an attractive addition to any garden or patio. Apart from their aesthetic value, they are a practical solutionfor people who have limited gardening space at their disposal.
Most garden centres and nurseries stock a large selection of containers. They come in many shapes and sizes and are made from various materials like plastic, concreteand real clay. Finding the right container is a matter of personal taste, as almost any container can be used for planting herbs.
Herbs can be planted on their own or in combination with other herbs. When plantingmore than one variety in a container, care should be taken that there will be ample growing space for all the plants. Prune the faster growing varieties regularly to ensure they do not overgrow their slower companions. Also, competition for space and nutrients will result in some varieties flourishing while others will suffer and, in most cases, eventually die. It is never wise to plant any of the mint varieties in the same container as other herbs. In most cases the mint will overgrow the entire pot. Proven mixed herb containers:
An Italian chef's selection
.Sweet basil
.Italian parsley
A perfume pot.Lavender.Rose scented geranium.Lemon balm.Lemon thyme.Pineapple sage A salad bowl.Garlic chives.Rocket.Salad burnet.Parsley.Celery A French chef's selection.Tarragon.Chervil.Parsley.Chives.Sage "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Indoor Herb Gardening
Ideally herbs are meant to be grown in full sun, in well-drained soil. Most come from the Mediterranean where they grow wild on barren mountainsides. So they will grow best in the garden or in pots outside the kitchen door or on your balcony, if it is sunny enough. However, that doesn't mean you can't grow them on your windowsill. You just need to adjust your expectations. Don't expect them to act like perennials.
Treat them like any other flowering pot plant that you buy for the house and discard when it has finished flowering.
The same applies to herbs - use them and when they start looking sickly, turf them out and buy a new pot. It doesn't mean you have failed as a gardener. The reason is that the windowsill pots are actually too small for sustainable growth and they are probably not getting enough light. Extend their life by feeding with a liquid plant food at half the strength.
Also, don't over water. Once a week should be enough. Keep the soil feeling slightly damp, but not sodden or bone dry. Check that they aren't sitting in a saucer of water. This causes the roots to rot and the plant to die very quickly.
Herbs work really well in outside containers and the advantage is that the pots can be moved around as the sun moves from season to season.
The container should be a minimum of 20 cm in diameter with drainage holes in the bottom. With a big enough pot you can plant a combination of herbs, like oregano, Italian parsley, thyme and basil if you love making Italian sauces for your pasta. Other good combinations are a salad mix of dill, rocket, sorrel and chives or a Thai mix of chillies, coriander, lemon grass and garlic.
One tip: keep your mint in a separate pot because it overruns everything.
Here are a few pointers for potting up your own herbs. Use a reputable commercialpotting soil that drains easily. You don't need to put stones or gravel at the bottom of the pot. Contrary to belief, this does not promote drainage but has the oppositeeffect.
Herbs in pots need more regular watering than those planted in the ground. Check the moisture daily, especially in hot or windy conditions. Water in the morning or early evening and give the pot a thorough soaking. If you find the herbs are infested with aphids or red spider, just cut the herbs right down rather than spray with pesticides.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to make your own compost tea
This is not for drinking but your plants will just love them. Basically there are 3 types of compost teas you can make and 3 methods you can use. Compost teas supply valuable soluble nutrients and bio-active compounds to your plants. Best of all they are completely organic and inexpensive.
Manure Tea
Manure-based tea is a soluble nutrient source made from raw animal manure
soaked in water. The manure is placed in a burlap sack and suspended in a barrel of
water for 7 to 14 days. The primary benefit of the tea will be a supply of soluble
nutrients, which can be used as a liquid fertilizer. You can also use compost to make
a manure-based tea
Herbal Tea
Plant-based extracts are most commonly made from chamomile flowers, comfrey
leaves, and yarrow leaves and flowers. A common method is to stuff a barrel about
three-quarters full of fresh green plant material, then top off the barrel with tepid
water. The tea is allowed to ferment at ambient temperatures for 3 to 10 days. The
finished product is strained, then diluted in portions of 1:10 or 1:5 and used as a
foliar spray or soil drench. Herbal teas provide a supply of soluble nutrients as well
as bio-active plant compounds.
Liquid Manures
Liquid manures are a blend of marine products (local fish wastes, seaweed extract,
kelp meal) and locally harvested herbs, soaked and fermented at ambient
temperatures for 3 to 10 days. Liquid manures are prepared similarly to herbal tea -
the material is fully immersed in the barrel during the fermenting period, then
strained and diluted and used as a foliar spray or soil drench. Liquid manures supply
soluble nutrients and bioactive compounds.
Bucket-Fermentation Method
Passive compost tea is prepared by immersing a burlap sack filled with compost into
a bucket or tank, stirring occasionally. Usually the brew time is longer, from 7 to 10
days. This is the method that dates back hundreds of years in Europe, and is more
akin to a compost watery extract than a brewed and aerated compost tea.
Bucket-Bubbler Method
The equipment setup and scale of production are similar to the bucket method,
except that an aquarium-size pump and air bubbler are used in association with
microbial food and catalyst sources added to the solution as an amendment. Since
aeration is critical, as many as three sump pumps may be used in a bucket
With homemade compost tea brewing, a compost sock is commonly used as a filter-strainer. Ideally, the mesh size will strain compost particulate matter but still allowbeneficial microbes including fungal hyphae and nematodes to migrate into solution. Single-strand mesh materials such as nylon stockings and laundry bags are some of the materials being used; fungal hyphae tend to get caught in polywoven fabrics. If burlap is used, it should be aged burlap.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Trough Method
Large-scale production of compost teas employs homemade tanks and pumps. An
8- or 12-inch-diameter PVC pipe is cut in half, drilled full of holes, and lined with
burlap. Compost is placed in this makeshift trough. The PVC trough is supported
above the tank, several feet in the air.
The tank is filled with water, and microbial food sources are added as an amendment. A sump pump sucks the solution from the bottom of the tank and distributes the solution to a trickle line running horizontally along the top of the PVC trough filled with compost. As the solution runs through the burlap bags containing the compost, a leachate is created which then drops several feet through the air back into the open tank below. A sump pump in the bottom of the tank collects this"tea" and distributes it back through the water line at the top of the trough, and so on.
Through this process, which lasts about seven days, the compost tea is recirculated,bubbled, and aerated. The purpose of the microbial food source is to grow a large population of beneficial micro-organisms.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Herbal Compost Activators
The importance of good compost for successful gardening cannot be overstated. Compost acts as a life-giving tonic to the garden and encourages earthworms and living fungi that help suppress pathogenic pests like nematodes and fungal root rot.
Producing one's own compost can be fun and very satisfying. The main principle to keep in mind is that all plant matter can be used, as well as dust, dirt and paper. Shredding the compost will speed up the process, as will the use of lime-basedpreparations which aid fermentation.
A light sprinkling of fertilizer or organic material high in nitrogen, like manure, grass or weed clippings and bone meal, will act as compost activators. Mineral rich herbs like nettles, dandelion, chicory, and salad burnet will also act ascompost activators.
Comfrey is an excellent addition to the compost heap. It has a carbon/nitrogen ratio very close to that of manure. The English Biodynamic Agricultural Society have also classified chamomile, yarrow and valerian as 'compost plants'. The traditional way of building a compost heap is in thin layers. A layer green matter would be followed by manure, then a sprinkling of topsoil, lime and/or fertilizer, and so on. Add water to the heap and turn it regularly. This sort of heap ensures even breakdown of material and prevents wastes from matting down together. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Beneficial Garden Bugs
Quite useful in the garden. Their nests help to ventilate the soil and prevent acidity.
They also feed on many insect pests, notably caterpillar larvae and fruit-fly maggots.
They are however not always welcome in the garden as they are outstanding 'aphid
You can encourage these diligent little plant pollinators to your garden by planting
the flowering shrubs and herbs they love - lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, hyssop,
basil, coriander, thyme, borage and mint.
Just as bees should be encourage to call your garden home, it is important not to
see every beetle as an enemy. Many are beneficial garden predators and feed on
slugs, snails, caterpillars, cutworm, moth larvae and small insect pests, even if they
do chew the odd leaf of a prized rose bush as well.
Although their hatched eggs - as caterpillars - will damage crops, butterflies
themselves do little harm and help to pollinate many flowers. As with many aspects
of companion planting, this is one area where the aspiring organic garden may have
to tolerate a less-than-perfect compromise.
Very useful in the garden. They eat caterpillars, slugs and other pests and help
break down decaying garden waste.
Most important to the success of a garden planned along organic principles. They
virtually create the topsoil by depositing their mineral-rich castings back into the
They look like small beetles, the main difference being the pair of pincers they have
at the end of their body. On the positive side they eat small insects and their larvae,
particularly codling moth. On the negative side, they can also make quite a mess of
your plants.
As with so many garden pests, grasshoppers will do little damage when present in
small numbers, but if allowed to infest an area, they will eat almost anything. They
are good bird and chicken food.
Don't see these odd, wasp-shaped little insects as enemies. They are to be
cherished as natural predators, and significantly contribute towards the maintenance
of a healthy garden. They prey on scale insects, mealy bugs and mites. Their larvae
eat aphids, codling moth larvae, caterpillars and slugs.
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Nature is often quite deceptive. The aptly named lacewing, with its beautiful, gauzy,
iridescent wings and huge golden eyes is actually one of the garden's most efficient
assassins. In a single season, the larvae of just one female lacewing - called 'aphid
lions' or 'ant lions' because of their voracious appetite - can eat over 13 million
aphids in a most savage fashion.
A most useful insect to have in the garden having a prodigious appetite for aphids,
thrips and the larvae of many leaf-eating insects. A single adult ladybird can devour
up to 400 aphids a day.
When we come across millipedes in the garden, the common reaction is to regard
them as pests. However, unless the millipedes are particularly troublesome don't
disturb them. A few in the garden will be help, not a hindrance, as they eat decaying
matter and help aerate the soil.
Praying Mantises
A ferocious killer. Both the mantises and their larvae will kill and eat most beetles,
bugs, wasps, spiders, flies and caterpillars, helping to keep these pests at tolerable
levels. Unfortunately, they will also eat beneficial insects, like bees and other
predatory wasps.
Spiders come in an enormous variety of shapes and sizes and, to the uninitiated
gardener, they can all be seen as pests. However, spider are extremely useful
creatures. Natural predators, they feed upon many insects which are a nuisance to
the gardener.
Wasps need protein-rich food for their young and so often help the gardener by
eating small insect pests like slugs, codling moth larvae, thrips, stink bugs, weevils,
grubs, caterpillars and scale insects.
The A-Z of companion planting by Pamela Allardice. 1993. Angus and Robertson.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Principles of using Culinary Herbs
Herbs and spices have been used to flavour food for thousands of years. It is a practice that is as popular today as it was in ancient Rome.
Most people, however, feel that they lack the necessary experience or knowledge to use herbs on a regular basis. The simple truth is that anybody can create dishes thatare delicious and unique. You do not have to be a gourmet chef. All it takes is a littleexperimentation. A dish may not always taste as intended, but one can learn a lot through mishaps or even the odd culinary disaster.
The purpose of using fresh herbs is to compliment food and in doing so increaseyour appreciation of the taste and aroma of the food. A herb should never overpower a dish. The salt rule applies: you can add more, but if you have added too much, youcannot take some out again. Start with small quantities and add more if you so desire and as your experience develops. Each herb has its own unique flavour and aroma that compliments certain foods and combines well with certain other herbs. You may find that you are very fond of one herb and that you dislike another. The only way to find out what works for you is to experiment. Start by adding one herb to a recipe that needs some variation or livening up. As your experience grows, you can start adding combinations of herbs. Fresh herbs are almost invariably preferable to dried herbs. Herbs' essential oils evaporate when dried, some of them to the point where the dried herb is tastelessand practically useless. Herbs also loose a lot of their volume when dried, so it is important to increase the quantities should you use fresh herbs when a recipe gives quantities for dried herbs. Read the article "Fresh herbs versus dried herbs" for more information on this subject.
By using fresh herbs you can transform the most ordinary meal into an unforgettableone. This is especially true for processed foods. The processes they go through strip them of a lot of flavour and nutritional value. Herbs can restore lost flavour and can go a long way towards more variation in your daily cooking.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Variety is the spice of life
Does the recommendation to eat a variety of foods sound familiar? It should,because a varied diet is a basic principle of good nutrition. Unfortunately it is a concept that's more often talked about than implemented. Eating a variety of foods is important because different foods are good sources of different nutrients. Milk, for example, is a good source of calcium but not vitamin C. Agrapefruit, on the other hand, provides vitamin C but not much calcium. By eating a varied diet you increase your chances of getting all the nutrients you need. Choosing different foods also makes meals more interesting. When was the last time you tasted fresh mango or pineapple, ate black bean soup, rolled your sandwichfillings into a flour tortilla or whole wheat pita bread, or sprinkled a little feta cheese on your salad? Your herb and vegetable garden can offer a diverse array of foods that can quickly move you out of a food rut -- provided you're willing to add some new choices to your cart. The most obvious benefit of using herbs in your daily cooking is the magical way in which they transform even the simplest meals. But there are other less obvious aims and benefits as well. Knowing these will help you better understand the true diversity of herbs. It will also help you to defend yourself against those who are not used to herbs in their food and may accuse you of trying to 'poison' them! First some theory. Some people tend to differentiate between herbs, spices and flavourings, but to my mind the differences are small. Herbs usually refer to aromatic leafy parts. Basil, oregano and thyme are good examples of aromatic herbs. Spices refer to pungent seeds, roots and bark. Pepper is a good example of a seed, horseradish of a root and cinnamon of bark. Flavourings refer to commodities that are often used in the same way as herbs and spices but are foods in their own right, like nuts, citrus fruits and onions.
Sometimes this differentiation can become a bit muddled. Take horseradish for example. According to the above it is a spice. But it can also be used as a food by itself. Other good examples are garlic and onions. Then there are a couple of plants that are both herbs and spices, as we use both the leaves and seeds. Good examples are fennel, dill and coriander. End of the theory. My advice is don't allow differentiation to limit your possibilities. I don't differentiate atall. Remember this. The success of your dishes will be judged by the reactions at thedinner table. Not by whether the ingredients that produced that magical flavour and aroma were a herb, spice or flavouring. In no specific order, here are 7 less obvious benefits of using herbs in your daily cooking regime: Herbs are undemanding and easy to grow. Just gathering fresh herbs from the garden is a genuine aesthetic experience. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Herbs represent kitchen wealth, gladdening as they do the senses of sight, smell and taste. Herbs help you to economise by enhancing simple staple foods.
Garnishing with herbs decorates food naturally and palatably. Many herbs aid the digestive process and increase the nutritional benefits you derive from a meal. In an age of vegetable cadavers (store bought frozen and canned vegetables, and even some fresh veggies you buy from your green grocer) your "herby's" come to the rescue. They can supply extra nutrition to your daily meals, as most "herby's" contain a small but rich balance of natural vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Home made herbal oils, vinegar and mustards are precious. Use them for special dishes and give them to appreciative friends. You can even start a small home based business by selling them to those who don't have an interest in making them, but do appreciate using them. In the end it all boils down to two basic benefits you will derive from using herbs in your daily cooking: A culinary benefit - herbs will provide flavour and soul to your food. A health benefit - herbs will provide valuable nutritional benefits.
Even Hippocrates acknowledged this when he said, "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food." "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to make your own Bouquet Garni
Cooks discovered that combinations of herbs will provide the necessary flavour and interest they were aiming for in their dishes better than one or two herbs. Such combinations came to be known as bouquet garni's. The traditional bouquet garni was a "broth posy" consisting of tied together in a little bundle with a piece of sting.It was added to stews, sauces andcasseroles and removed before serving.
From these modest beginnings bouquet garni's have evolved into the most powerful culinary "weapon" in the chef's repertoire.
Your aim in making a bouquet garni
Your aim in making a bouquet garni should be to produce a balanced, complex
flavour that makes your diner want to take another bite, not analyze it. You will soon
find out that by simply using one or two herbs you won't be able to achieve this aim.
You will, most likely, be using three or four herbs, plus a spice or two, resulting in
great depth to your finished dishes.
How do you make your own bouquet garni's?
The easiest way to start is to copy successful recipes. How do you find the success
stories? Simply by studying recipes and watching cooking programs on television.
Look for recipes that use more than two herbs, spices or flavourings. Even though
the recipe, in almost all instances, won't state that, these are all bouquet garni's.
But don't just copy successful bouquet garni's.
Take your experimentation one step further. Start by changing proportions, next try
to add, delete or substitute the herbs in the bouquet garni. You can also try the same
bouquet garni with different dishes.
I have a few tried and tested "universal" bouquet garni's that I can use with just about everything. Having universal bouquet garni's are a big advantage if you are as lazy as I am. Because you can make them up in advance. I love infusing my universal bouquet garni's in vinegar and olive oil as well. That way they become truly universal, and they are popular gifts. To try some of my favourite recipes visit 12 Popular Bouquet Garni Recipes.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to make pesto sauce
Pesto or Pistou An outstanding basil based 'sauce' that goes very well with pasta and savory snacks. The name 'pesto' comes from the original method or preparing the basil by pounding it with a pestle in a mortar. Blend the chopped basil, oil, garlic and nuts at high speed until pureed. Pour mixture into a bowl and thoroughly mix in salt and parmesan cheese.
Serve your pesto with hot drained pasta, with baked pumpkin or with hot jacket potatoes.
Your pesto sauce can be kept in the refrigerator or it can be frozen.
Variations on Pesto:
Use equal quantities of parsley and marjoram instead of basil and pinenuts.
Use parsley and walnuts instead of basil and pinenuts.
Use ground almonds with basil instead of pinenuts Use equal quantities of parsley and basil. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Easy to make Nutritious Soups
Being a herb grower I don't enjoy the winter months. But even I am comforted by the thought of curling up by a blazing fire with a bowl of hot, hearty, nutritious soup and a slab of crusty bread and herb butter. And if I can have a glass of gluhwein on the side - even the better. See if you agree with the Staff at who said the following about the culinary characteristics of soup: "Soup is a many-splendored thing; as soup, more than any other food, invite you to innovate and experiment, making something fabulous with what you've already got on your shelves. Soup is the most improvisation-friendly food in the world. You can substitute,increase, decrease, exclude and include ingredients to your hearts content without fear of disaster. A bowl of soup can be a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal with a wonderful array of flavours, textures and nutrients from every food group. And soup can be hearty,healthy, and filling without being fattening." I especially like their descriptions of soup being a "stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal" and it being "the most improvisation-friendly food in the world." Many a time, when making soup, I felt like a toddler in a candy store. Not knowing what to put in and what to leave out of the bowl.
But there's a lot more to soup than just being a "stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal". In the 12th century the great physician and philosopher Maimonides prescribed herbal baths and chicken soup as remedies for the common cold.
More than 800 years later, the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that Maimonides was right. Researches found that chicken soup was a mild antibiotic and decongestant. Chinese healers to this day also use chicken soup to treat colds, though they do add some herbs, like ginseng, to their brew. When treating acute illnesses herbalist will often recommend a cleansing diet. This often entails taking freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices or vegetable broths (soups.) Years ago I came across a recipe of Vicki Pitman (author of Herbal Medicine) which she called "Potassium broth". I've - very respectfully - renamed it to "Pitman Powerade" in the meantime, as it is wreaks havoc on colds, infectious and feverish illnesses. Here's her original recipe: Potassium broth by Vicki Pitman
"To 2 pt (1140 ml, I think) of water add unpeeled, and preferably organic,
vegetables: 2 potatoes, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 onion and a handful of fresh
parsley. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer until gently cooked. Season with 1 tsp
each of fresh herbs such as fresh or dried ginger, fennel, cayenne or black pepper,
and cumin and 3-4 cloves of garlic to taste. Strain the vegetables and serve. For a
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
thicker soup add 1 cup of oats, brown rice or millet that has been soaked overnightthen cooked. Puree the whole before serving." Here's another one from my collection. It's called "Subzee" and the original recipe was copyrighted by Yogi Bhajan in 1980. According to Bhajan this Ayurvedic soup (the name Subzee refers to a vegetable stew) is a wonderful digestive and intestinaltonic and nerve soother. And it should be as the spices are all excellent tonics for inflammation, nerves,indigestion, nausea and flatulence; and the other ingredients are immune-boostingand nutritious as well. Be warned, apart from being a therapeutic hearty meal, this soup is pungent and fragrant.
Subzee by Yogi Bhajan
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the following in about 3 tablespoons almond oil (I use
olive oil) and 1 tablespoon water: 1/2 tablespoon each ground black pepper,
turmeric, ground cinnamon and ground ginger; and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom.
When this is thoroughly blended, sauté 1 bulb garlic, sliced and 2 large onions,
sliced. When garlic and onions are soft and lightly browned, add a little water at a
time as you bring to a boil, until the vegetables are covered.
To the boiling water add 8 ounces of assorted vegetables (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, etc.) and 1 ounce slivered raw almonds. Add enough water to cover added vegetables. Cook until vegetables are very tender. Serve with warm whole-grainbread or toast, or spoon over cooked rice. The last recipe I would like to share with you should get you sitting up. This recipe byRobyn Landis called "Preparation B" is used, believe it or not, to treat hemorrhoids.
Fortunately I've never had any reason to try this recipe, so I can't testify to its success. It does however make a lot of sense. Beets alone are a classic hemorrhoidremedy and as a bonus the recipe also utilizes the cleaning and healing propertiesof several root vegetables. Robyn renamed the recipe to "Fluorescent Soup" because she says the beets, radish, red cabbage and carrots give the soup a glowing pink, red, purple andorange colour. If you give this recipe a bash please let me know. I would love to hear if it sits well - on the palate I mean. Fluorescent Soup by Robyn Landis
Ingredients: 1 large onion diced; 1 bulb garlic sliced; 2 tablespoons coriander; 1
teaspoon dried basil and/or fresh to taste; 5 large carrots sliced; 1 28-ounce tin
organic stewed tomatoes (diced, crushed or whole); 15 to 20 radishes, sliced thin;
1/2 large head red cabbage, chopped; 10 large organic beets, steamed, trimmed
and sliced or cubed; black pepper to taste.
Sauté onion and garlic in coriander, dried basil and olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of a large soup pot until soft. Add carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add tinned tomatoes and radish, cabbage and beets. Stir till mixed. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Add black pepper and turn down to simmer until all the vegetables are cooked, up to an hour. Add fresh basil before serving. Serve with "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
bread on the side or mix in cooked rice or other grains. Grated parmesan cheese can be lightly sprinkled on top. If the above does not tickle your fancy you will be pleased to know that I haverepublished the "Soup Scoop" on the website. This handy document gives you directions for spicing up some 31 basic soups with a selection of herbs and spices.
There are about 260 variations to choose from. Having given you this information, I dare say that I can safely change Lin Yutang's quote to "Your next soup bowl is not in the lap of the gods, but in your own." "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Making refreshing summer drinks
Fruit and vegetable juices are delicious on their own, but they can also be flavoured and decorated with herbs and spices for refreshing and unusual drinks. Thepossibilities for mixed drinks are almost endless, limited only by individual taste. It is easy to build up a repertoire of interesting and unusual cups, coolers and cocktails.
Start by mixing two familiar drinks and then go on to experiment with more unusual flavour combinations, sweetening with sugar or honey and herbs and spices to taste.
Fruit juices and punches
Mint is the most widely used herb with fruit drinks, but bergamot, borage, dill, lemon
balm, lemon verbena, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, rose geranium, sage and
thyme all work well. Herb flowers, such as borage or lemon thyme, make beautiful
Herb and Rose Geranium Punch
2 sprigs each lemon verbena, mint and sage; 1 small sprig rosemary; 6 rose
geranium leaves; 1 bottle dry white wine; 3 tbsp honey or castor sugar; 2 cups
strawberries; 1 bottle champagne; 1 bottle lemonade; borage and geranium flowers.
Place herbs in a jug and bruise them with a wooden spoon. Add dry white wine and
infuse, covered, overnight. Warm honey and sprinkle over strawberries (or use
sugar) and chill one hour. Pour into a punch bowl and strain wine and herb infusion
over them. Just before serving add chilled champagne and lemonade and float
borage and geranium flowers among the strawberries.
Vegetable juices
Stronger herbs such as basil, chives, coriander and tarragon are better with
vegetable juices. For extra flavour add basil, lovage or parsley to tomato juice, dill or
chives to cucumber juice, and tarragon and mint to carrot juice.
Carrot-Gazpacho Cocktail
1 ¾ cups carrot juice; 1 ¾ cups tomato juice; 7.5cm cucumber, grated; 2 tbsp
chopped fresh coriander, basil or dill; salt; freshly ground black pepper, ice cubes.
Mix the juices in a large jug and chill for one hour. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Pour into glasses and serve garnished with sprigs of the chosen herb.
Yoghurt and milk
Drinking yoghurt is becoming increasingly popular, though in the East, yoghurt has
long been the base of refreshing drinks. Lassi, the traditional Indian yoghurt drink,
can be either sweet - flavoured with mint or rose water - or savoury, flavoured with
cumin and cardamom. Lassies are meant to tame the fire of spicy curries, but they
are refreshing drinks in their own right.
1 cup natural yoghurt; ½ teaspoon salt; 1-2 sprigs mint, leaves only; ½ teaspoon
cumin seeds; freshly ground black pepper; fresh mint sprigs for garnish.
In a blender combine the yoghurt, salt, mint and 2 ½ cups water, and process until
smooth. Chill for at least 3 hours. Pour into tall glasses, sprinkle with cumin and
pepper to taste. Garnish with sprigs of mint.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to use herbs safely
Most popular medicinal herbs, including all the herbs discussed in this course, are reasonably safe for most people most of the time when taken in recommended amounts. But remember herbs do contain pharmacologically active compounds that have drugs effects on the body when taken in medicinal doses. They therefore can potentially cause harm - allergic reactions, side effects, possible fetal injury, interactions with other herbs and drugs, and death.
Overall, herbs are safer than drugs, but they are potent medicine, and anyone who uses them should do so cautiously and responsibly. Fortunately you don't need to be a master herbalist to use medicinal herbs safely. All you need is a little informationand some common sense.
The following sage advice on using herbs safely comes mostly from MichaelCastleman's bestseller The New Healing Herbs: Before you take any herb, read up on it
Don't just listen to friends and relatives. Do your own research. The information in
this course is a good starting point. Take any warnings seriously. When in doubt
about the appropriateness of the herb for your condition, don't use it. Limit your use
to those herbs that are widely recommended in popular herb books.
Don't take herb identity for granted
Only buy herbs and herb products that identify the herb by its Latin binomial name -
that is, genus and species. For example, thyme's binomial name is Thymus vulgaris.
You will learn more about botanical names in the next section of this lesson.
Stick with the recommended dosage, and never exceed it
Some people assume that if a little herb is good, more must be better. Wrong.
Herbal dosage recommendations are based on centuries of clinical experience and,
often, scientific research.
If you are over age 65, start with a low dose. As we grow older, we become more
sensitive to medicinal herbs and drug effects. In addition, older people often take
other medications. You don't want to risk adverse herb-drug interactions. Rather
increase the dose gradually. You will study dosages in depth later on in this course.
Respect your individuality
We are all different. You may be allergic to one or more herbs or you may develop
other unusual reactions. Stay alert for any adverse reactions such as abdominal
upset, diarrhoea, itching, rash, headache - anything out of the ordinary. If you notice
any unusual symptoms that appear to be linked to the herb, stop taking it and
discuss your reaction(s) with your health care provider.
Even if you are not allergic, you may still be unusually sensitive to one or more medicinal herbs. Doctors refer to this as an idiopathic reaction. Idiopathic means "for unknown reasons" - in other words just one of those things. Out of the blue, you may react badly to an herb that's generally considered safe. It happens. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
If you are pregnant or nursing, use herbs with caution It is a persistent medical principal that one should refrain from giving medicines to a pregnant woman unless absolutely necessary. Fortunately, the issues are less worrisome for the use of herbal remedies than they are for conventional drugs. Nevertheless, herbalists still refrain from medicating where possible, and then they prefer herbs that are positively vetted as good. Again, do your research. Don't give herbal remedies to children under age 2
While some herbalists contend that herbal remedies are okay for children 6 months
and older, we take a more conservative position in this course. Use your discretion
and apply the recommendations discussed in the lesson on dosages.
Think twice before jumping on a herbs bandwagon
Be cautious about unusual or new foreign remedies that have not stood the test of
long-term use. Be extra careful when taking an old popular herb with a new
"breakthrough" use. A good case in point is St. John's wort which flew of the shelves
of stores when it was shown to have an important new benefit as an antidepressant.
What people did not know was the adverse interaction of St. John's wort with drugs
like protease inhibitors and cyclosporine.
Never on Sunday's
Always challenge a treatment: if after several weeks it is thought that the herb is
useful, or even if there are doubts, stop the herb for a period of time and see if it is
still necessary. Take the herb for six days, then break a day. Or take it for four weeks
and then break a week. Whichever time scale you decide on, you must challenge the
Use your common sense
Never persist with any herbal remedy after a moderate period of time (preferably no
more than several weeks, a couple of months at the outside) if it is not clearly
improving the condition concerned. Contrary to popular belief, most herbs do not
take months to work, it is the condition that sets the pace; if it is going to take months
to correct professional advice would in any case be preferable.
Consult your health care provider
In most cases you can safely treat any ailment for which you normally would have
opted for over-the-counter remedies, without getting professional advice, with herbal
remedies. But you have to draw the line somewhere. Our position is that you should
in all cases consult your doctor. Be especially careful of self diagnosis. It may land
you in hospital and/or cost you your life.
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The Tonic Herbs
Tonic herbs are a great way to begin with herbal remedies, to try something new and see what it does for you. And they can be taken throughout life. We live in such as toxic and disease-filled world that it cannot hurt to strengthen our "shields." By nourishing your tissues and energy the tonics help combat disease, increaseimmunity and enhance the quality of your life. Thus one definition of a tonic - the criterion used in most ethnic healing systems - is a herb that, with long term use is "building" in some way. Don't confuse the tonics with the adaptogens. Some, but not all, tonics areadaptogens. Adaptogens increase resistance and adaptation to all stresses and build stamina and vitality. Tonics may generally support a specific organ or system - i.e., a herb may be a tonic for the heart or lungs, but that doesn't make it an adaptogen.
David Hoffmann, in The Elements of Herbalism, writes of tonics: "Western medicine has neglected such ideas as having no basis in fact. This is not so; rather it was a reflection of research procedures that could not recognise such complex and multifactorial processes." In addition, the tonic concept doesn't fit into the orthodoxscientific model of useful substances. According to this model a substance must have very narrow and targeted mechanisms of action - a tonic's lack of specificity bespeaks the lack of an underlying mechanism. And that could mean, as Dr. Andrew Weil wryly points out in Spontaneous Healing, "the substance could be - perish the thought! - merely a placebo." Herbalists know from experience that the tonic herbs are not merely placebo's. They value the tonics because they represent the very essence of what herbs are about, first and foremost: prevention. Their focus is primarily on keeping you well - although many have secondary uses as remedies for already sick people.
But a word of warning. If you venture into herbal remedies by using the tonics, you have to be prepared not to experience a necessarily dramatic result. One of the ironies of striving for better than average health and wellness is the "no-result" result which I discussed in a previous newsletter. We are simply not accustomed to measuring our success by what doesn't happen. A shift in thinking is in order here: No news is good news. Your best tonics
Robyn Landis, in Herbal Defence Against Illness and Ageing, presents two practical
strategies for choosing your tonics:
"Just as some herbs have affinity for particular organs, systems, or body processes,and are best utilised for healing in those areas, many tonic herbs "specialise" in balancing a specific system or systems. Because everyone has a limit for daily herb consumption in terms of time, convenience, tolerance, and money, it's not necessary to try to take four or five herbal tonics all the time and work on all body systems and processes at once. It wouldn't hurt you, but it's simply not practical. One or two at a time is sufficient.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
One way to choose your tonics is to think in terms of individual areas of weakness. Ifyou have a family history of heart disease and did not adopt heart-healthy habits until recently, hawthorn berry might be a good tonic for you. If you tend to have respiratory infections and are a former smoker, a lung-affinity tonic such as thyme would be good. If a constant string of varying infections is your complaint, tonics that specifically increase cell-mediated immunity should be included. If you can't think of a specific area that would help you counter individual diseasetendencies, another way to approach tonic use is by rotation. Use one or two for a couple of months, then switch to another one or two, so that every year you are nourishing and balancing two to four major systems." Listed below are some tonics for specific areas or issues. When selecting a herb for its tonic effects try to take into account the broader picture of your personal needs and the individual herb's range of actions.
Circulatory system: Cayenne, hawthorn berries, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng,motherwort, turmeric Respiratory system: Angelica, aniseed, cayenne, coltsfoot, comfrey, garlic, hyssop, liquorice, thyme, yarrow Digestive system: Angelica, aniseed, chamomile, clove, comfrey, dandelion, garlic, ginger, mugwort, rue, turmeric Muscles and skeleton: Alfalfa, angelica, black cohosh, comfrey, nettles Nervous system: Black cohosh, lemon balm, motherwort, mugwort Skin: Calendula, comfrey, echinacea, dandelion, garlic, gotu kola (a.k.a. pennywort),nettles, turmeric Immune system: Echinacea, garlic, ginger, ginseng, liquorice, "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Immune Boosting Basic
Herbs excel at prevention. That's not to say that they aren't the perfect answer to many existing health conditions. But ultimately, our aim is to get to the point where we don't need 'treatments'. Instead we will be spending our energy on building and enhancing whichever system in the body is mostly affected by disease.
It is possible to simply not get ill. I'm getting better and better at it each year, and hopefully so will you and your family. However, if you don't do something special - conscientious self-care that's better than average - you're likely to keep on getting ill just like everyone else. Find out how you can dodge the immune breakdownepidemic.
Just as there are things in life that sap our immune system's vigour and capacity, there are also things that give it a break, or even actively nurture it. So in thesimplest sense, the strategy for strengthening the immune system is to increase the positive influences in our life as much as possible, while at the same time reducing the negative's as much as possible.
As an overview, this means increasing our intake of fresh herbs, fruits andvegetables, whole grains and legumes. Getting plenty of fresh, clean water, rest, relaxation, and quality sleep. Doing moderate exercise, and experiencing as much joy, happiness and self expression as you can manage. It would mean reducing mental stress, consumption of simple sugars, alcohol, saturated and other harmful fats, and cutting out smoking and drug use. That's a lot of things to do, and it may seem overwhelming if all those areas need work right now. But the nice thing about this strategy of increasing the positive and reducing the negative is that it's a process. Leslie Kenton calls it the Ultra Health Game. You can feel good about every step you take. One negative influence removed from your life makes a difference - there's no getting around that. It's simply one less burden on your immune system. One addition on the plus side gives greater impetus to your own innate healing power. Do what you can, and appreciate yourself for the changes you make. There are at least six major immune boosting and cancer prevention tools that are both easy to adopt and accessible to virtually everyone. These six health promotersare: diet, culinary herbs, exercise, stress reduction techniques, social support and intimacy.
Immune Booster # 1: Diet
There are two areas on which you can focus. The first is a positive strategy:
increasing your daily intake of anti-oxidants and minerals that promote immunity and
support the cancer-fighting mechanisms of the body. The second is to follow a low-
fat diet.
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants: they slow down the aging process and protect
the body from cancer, heart disease and pollution. Find out what vitamin C does for
your body and how you can fuel up on vitamin C using only natural sources.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Immune Booster # 2: Culinary herbs
A wide array of herbs are proving to have powerful immune boosting and cancer-
prevention properties. The most prominent of these are garlic, cumin, turmeric,
Japanese green tea, licorice, cinnamon, mint and chamomile.
Immune Booster # 3: Exercise
Moderate exercise stimulates the production of a variety of immune cells and
enhances the overall function of the immune system. As little as 30 minutes of
walking per day, three to five times per week, is enough to boost cardiovascular
fitness and immunity.
Immune Booster # 4: Stress reduction techniques
Stress affects immunity in a number of ways, but primarily through the endocrine
system by causing the secretion of immune depressing hormones. Dealing with
stress effectively is therefore essential in the maintenance of a healthy immune
system. Among the best ways of doing that is exercise, meditation, and relaxation
Immune Booster # 5: Social support
There is no denying that humans are social creatures, but we are only beginning to
learn that social life is essential to our health, as well as our happiness. This is
especially the case in times of a health crisis.
Immune Booster # 6: Intimacy
We call it "dying of a broken heart," and, indeed, the research consistently shows
that the loss of a loved one is associated with depressed immune response and
premature death.
When following this strategy of increasing the positives and decreasing thenegatives, don't expect to experience a necessarily dramatic result. One of the ironies of taking good care of yourself is what we call the "no-result" result. We are not accustomed to measuring our success by what doesn't happen. We want to see something happening, even if it means being very ill and getting heroically "cured." A shift in thinking is needed here: No news is good news. There are countless all-too-common health catastrophes whose absence in your life will confirm yoursuccess.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
The subtle therapeutic effect of herbs
I'm often asked if herbs can just be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. As if that is not enough! But you are right, herbs also have more subtle effects. These are perhaps best described by Vicki Pitman in her herb book Herbal Medicine: "In using herbs medicinally, you are connecting with the fundamental energies of nature, of the earth, of the seasons and the weather. You are interacting with your environment, rather than just passing through life living in protective bubbles of convenience, distracting entertainment and stimulation. Using herbs engages you in communicating with your self, leads to more self-awareness and challenges you to learn. It may happen that you notice you have a particular affinity for one or more herbs. You may be drawn to them because of their colour, taste, form, by some association, or through seeing a particular beautiful or interesting plant in a garden or in the wild. One or two herbs may seem to work better than others for a particular ailment to which you are especially prone. It's lovely to develop such as relationshipwith plants. The cycle of birth, growth, decay and death in plants can give a new perspective to the same processes in our lives. How much are we clinging to what has turned into a burden for us, sapping our energy? Can we let go of the past, as a tree releases its leaves when the time comes, using the experience to nourish future growth? Plants are quietly, modestly getting on with their lives and providing for our survival. When we open our hearts and our minds to the healing herbs we find they enrich our lives in many unexpected ways." Sooner or later you will start to recognise these subtle therapeutic effects in your own life." "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to take a herbal full body bath
Full body baths are the most beneficial baths that can be taken and are, as we all know, very pleasant. They have been used for centuries as specific therapeutic aidsin the treatment of disorders and for their beautifying effect. To obtain the most from a therapeutic herbal body bath apply the followingguidelines: Never take a full body bath within two hours after meals. The best time for a hydrotherapy treatment is about three hours after breakfast, which is a luxury mostof us can't afford. The best time for most of us is just before retiring in the evening. Water temperature is important. Never start with an extreme. The ideal temperatureis one that is agreeable to you, unless giving some particular treatment for effects. Rather increase or decrease the water temperature gradually as needed. Cold baths should be brief and should be avoided during menstruation. Room temperature is also important and there should be good ventilation - but no drafts. As a precaution against taking a cold, especially in winter, always decrease the temperature of the bath before you get out. Atmosphere is also important if you are taking a long, warm, relaxing bath to wash away the day's stress and tension. Take appropriate measures such as soft music, candle light, etc. Rest after a therapeutic herbal body bath is very important as this will add to its beneficial results. Try to lie down for at least an hour, preferably longer, immediately after your bath and keep yourself covered. Try to take a therapeutic bath every three to four days. Therapeutic herbal body baths are beneficial to almost any condition you can think of. They are commonly used (prescribed) as home remedies in the treatment of the following conditions: arthritis, colds, colic, constipation, gall-stones, gout, neuralgia, rheumatism, sciatica, stress, tension. etc. The article herbal bath ideas will give you an indication of which herbs are commonly used as remedies for the 12 most common disorders. You can add any of your favourite herbs to your herbal bath or you can make up a formula that will be of benefit to whatever condition you want to alleviate. Use the standard recipe below as a guideline for your own creations and let me know of your trials and tribulations. Aromatherapists make extensive use of full body baths, and theirs is to a certain extent a more standardized bath than a herbal bath, as most quality aromatherapyoils are of a known strength. However, this in not to say that a full body bath with aromatherapy oils is superior to a herbal bath. "The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Standard Herbal Body Bath Recipe.
You can either prepare an infusion (or decoction) which you add to the bath water, or
you can place a handful of the herb in a muslin bag (or old stocking) which is
suspended from the hot water tap so that the water flows through it.
For a stronger effect I often use a combination of these methods. I tie the herbs into the bag and first make the infusion or decoction. (Sometimes we will simmer the herbs for 10 to 20 minutes in a closed container) Then we add the resulting infusion or decoction to the water and we tie the bag to the hot water tap. When making an infusion or decoction you usually use two cups of water and up to half a cup of the herb or formula. If you are using fresh herbs use more. Exact quantities are not that critical as the infusion will be diluted in the bath water. Apply common sense.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
How to Grow and Use Sweet Basil
How to use Sweet Basil as a Beauty Herb
You can make an invigorating beauty bath by adding a strong infusion of fresh basil
leaves to your bath. Use 1 cup chopped basil leaves in 2 cups boiling-hot water.
Steep for 15-20 minutes
How to use Sweet Basil as a Companion Plant
Sweet Basil is a most beneficial companion for your other plants. In particular it
enhances the flavour of summer savory and it helps tomatoes to grow larger and
more flavoursome.
It's a good insect repellant for white fly, aphids and fruit fly. A pot of basil, set on a windowsill near an open window, will prevent flies from entering the room through the window. Nicholas Culpeper observed that '. something is the matter, this herb and rue will not grow together, no, nor near one another.' - but in our experience they are quite happy bedfellows. You can set pots on windowsills and in open doorways to deter flies, or you can add a few leaves to the barbeque fire to deter moths. You can also grow it as anattractive pot plant for the patio. How to use Sweet Basil as a Home Cuisine Herb
Best used fresh (dried basil does not have the same flavour, a minty taste
predominates), sweet basil has a pungent, aromatic and spicy flavour that resembles
cloves. It's an outstanding choice as a home cuisine herb and you can never have
too many sweet basil plants growing in your garden.
It has a special affinity for tomatoes and tomato-flavoured dishes, and it is an essential ingredient to make a truly wonderful pesto sauce. You can also add sweet basil to beans, cheeses, chicken, eggs, fish, marinades, marrows, mushrooms, pasta and pasta sauces and salads. It also makes a great herb vinegar and herb butter.
Always add it just before serving to cooked dishes as its flavour diminishes with cooking. Pound it with a bit of olive oil or tear it with the fingers, rather than choppingit. Sweet basil combines well with garlic, parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage.
How to use Sweet Basil as a Natural Remedy
Sweet basil is used extensively in aromatherapy for ailments such as stress,
migraine, colds and hay fever. It has antispasmodic, appetizing, carminative,
galactagogue and stomachic properties. It is quite effective for tension headaches,
exhaustion and digestive upsets such as stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea
and enteritis.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Make an infusion by adding 2 teaspoons fresh leaves to 1/2 cup boiling-hot water. Steep for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink hot. Take three times a day. Sweet basil is also used in flower therapy for those who tend to separate spirituality from sexuality, believing the two cannot be integrated. Traditionally the dried leaves were pounded and, taken as snuff, used as a remedy for colds. How to care for and cultivate Sweet Basil
Sweet basil is a tender annual that grows about 40-60cm high. It prefers well-drained
soil in a sunny position. Protect your sweet basil against cold winds and frost. Space
the plants about 30cm apart and pinch out the growing tips and flower heads to
encourage a bushy habit.
Sweet Basil is propagated from seed and young plants can be purchased fromnurseries to plant in your herb garden. Harvesting and preserving your Sweet Basil
Don't try to dry your sweet basil as the flavour is not the same as fresh basil. You
can keep the leaves briefly in plastic bags in the refrigerator or you can preserve
them in olive oil or vinegar. To freeze you can puree the leaves with a little water and
freeze them in ice cube trays or you can cover both sides with olive oil and freeze
them whole.
The Legend and Lore of Sweet Basil
Sweet basil, also known as basilie and basiliekruid, originated in India, where it is
regarded as a herb sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu. It is thought to protect
against evil and every Hindu is buried with a leaf of basil - a tulasi - on his or her
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Hyssop - the Biblical anti-septic
The Book of Psalms (51:9) says, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." But hyssop does more than clean. Contemporary herbalists recommend hyssop compresses and poultices for bruises, burns and wounds, and suggest infusions for colds, coughs, bronchitis, flatulence, indigestion, menstruation promotion, and even epileptic seizures. In 17th-century Europe, hyssop was a popular air freshener or 'strewing herb.' At a time when people rarely bathed and farm animals often shared human living quarters, crushed leaves and flowers were scattered around homes to mask odours. When bathing became popular and strewing ceased, hyssop was placed in scent baskets in sickrooms.
With its spikes of intense blue flowers and bushy, compact growth, Hyssop is an attractive herb worth growing for its looks alone, although it's also an important tool in your defence against colds and flu. It likes a sunny position and light well-drainedsoil and will grow equally well in pots. The bush grows between 60 - 90cm high, making it a good border plant in a mixed flowerbed or as a low growing hedge. An infusion made with the leaves is useful for controlling bacterial plant disease.
As a medicinal herb Hyssop is particularly effective for treating bronchitis and respiratory infections, because of its expectorant action. Both the leaves and flowerscan be used, either dried or fresh, in an infusion. The herb's tonic action alsoencourages recovery - it supports the liver with its detoxifying duties. Combine with thyme for bronchial congestion, with peppermint and yarrow for the common cold and lemon balm for cold sores. It inhibits the growth of the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores. I never get cold sores, but an infusion used as a compress,is quite effective for my wife when she's plagued by cold sores. You have to be snappy though. At the first sign of a tinkling, apply the compress. She gets better results when she combines it with lemon balm, and she takes the infusion internally as well. Even add the leftovers to the bath. Quite nice. Hyssop has a strong camphor-like smell and tastes bitter. When drinking my infusion (it helps to relieve my smokers cough) I add some honey and/or lemon (both also good cough remedies), or I mix it with a beverage herb such as lemon balm. We also make homemade tincture with Hyssop. I would rather stomach one teaspoon of bitter stuff to a whole cup full.
Just for interest. I recently stumbled onto an intriguing possibility. A few laboratory studies have shown that hyssop extract exhibits potent activity against HIV, the 'virus' that is linked to AIDS. It's too early to call hyssop an AIDS treatment, but who knows, it may be used in that capacity in the future. Don't plant hyssop just because it is such an outstanding garden plant and medicinal herb. I love the peppery taste, which makes a good addition to thick soups, chunky pasta sauces and casseroles. If you want bees in your garden, hyssop is a must. It also has the reputation for enhancing the flavour of grapes and increasing the yield of cabbages planted nearby.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
I pinch my young plants quite regularly to stimulate a bushy habit. Once I have a nice bush I cut it down to about 10cm once or twice a year. Usually just before flowering time (about September in Pretoria) and then again after flowering time. I usually have to decide on the hyssop's behalf when flowering should stop, as it justcarries on. Normally I would cut back again in March. I use the cut hyssop to make tincture, or if I have enough I will dry it. Remember to store your dried herbs in airtight containers.
Caution: Hyssop has not been shown to stimulate the uterus, but its traditional use toinduce abortion should discourage pregnant women from taking it. Don't give to children under age 2 either. Elderly and frail people should start with small dosages and build upwards. Always consult your health care practitioner.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
A symbol of friendship, loyalty, and remembrance, rosemary is traditionally carried by mourners at funerals and by the bride at her wedding. Greek scholars woregarlands of rosemary when they were sitting examinations, to improve their memory and concentration. In the 14th century Queen Izabella of Hungary claimed that, at the age of 72 years, when crippled with gout and rheumatism, she had so regained her strength and beauty by using Hungary water (rosemary tops macerated in alcohol) that the King of Poland proposed to her. In Hamlet, Ophelia gives Hamlet a sprig, saying, "There's rosemary. for remembrance." Rosemary may not guarantee A's on exams, marital fidelity, or vivid memories of the dear departed - but our ancestors were right about a lot of rosemary's abilities.
Traditionally rosemary is used with lamb, but it also tastes good in scones, breads and biscuits as well as with chicken and fish. It combines well with oranges and is used in soups and vegetable dishes as well as drinks, jelly, mustard, flavoured oils and vinegars, and preserves. Rosemary can easily overpower a dish, so start with small quantities - 1/2 teaspoon freshly bruised leaves per four portions. It also standsup well to looking periods and can thus be added at the beginning of the cooking period.
Rosemary's preservative powers compares favourably with the commercial food preservatives BHA and BHT. It might help prevent food poisoning on your next picnic. Mix the crushed leaves generously into hamburger meat and tuna, pasta, and potato salads.
It also inhibit the action of many micro-organisms that can cause infection. For minor cuts in the garden, press some fresh, crushed rosemary leaves into the wound on the way to the wash and bandage it.
Like most culinary herbs, rosemary may help relax the smooth muscle lining the digestive tract, an action that makes it an antispasmodic, and a very effectivetreatment for indigestion. Simply adding it to your dishes will work magic. Rosemary may also help relieve nasal and chest congestion caused by colds, flu,and allergies, and it is widely used to help relieve the symptoms of asthma. But by far the most important health benefit of the 'modern' rosemary is the fact that she is one of our richer sources of antioxidants. And antioxidants help to preventcancer. Drink it as a tea and/or include fresh rosemary in your cooking. As Queen Izabella of Hungary exclaimed, rosemary is also an indispensable beauty aid. When used in facials it is cleansing and boosts the circulation. It is also a very versatile hair care herb for people with dark hair. It restores lustre, revitalizes the hair and stimulate hair growth. It is also one of the best remedies for dandruff. You can make an apple cider rinse by steeping about 125ml freshly bruised rosemary leavesin 750ml vinegar for two weeks. Add about 100ml to your final rinse. You can also make your own rosemary shampoo. Use a good baby shampoo as a base and add 1 part strong rosemary infusion. Use as you would your normal shampoo.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
For a pleasantly aromatic infusion to settle the stomach or clear a stuffy nose, simply steep 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly bruised rosemary leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink three cups a day. As a home-made tincture use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon up to three times a day. When using commercial preparations, follow the package directions. You may give dilute rosemary preparations to children under age two. Pregnant women should steer clear of medicinal preparations of rosemary, though using it in your cooking is generally regarded as safe. Other women might try rosemary to bring on their periods. So why not give mom a rosemary as a token of your loyalty, and to help her stay healthy and preserve her beauty? Plant her rosemary in a sunny spot, don't over water and feed it at least once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer. Give it enough space, it can grow up to 2m - that's if you don't use it extensively as we do. Rosemary does exceptionally well in acontainer and it adds a nice touch to your gift. Use a container (we prefer real clay, available from your GCA garden centre) that is at least 20cm in diameter. Remember to feed your potted herbs at least every two weeks.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Must have mints
Whenever people ask me for my list of "must have" culinary herbs Mint is alwayshigh on the list. Quite beside its traditional uses - as mint sauce for roast lamb or cooked with peas - I find that a handful of chopped mint gives most dishes and salads a lift.
Or maybe it's just the delicious minty fragrance stirring up my appetite!We grew up with Spearmint or Garden Mint (Mentha spicata) and today it's still the most popular of all the mints. Middle Eastern dishes make the most imaginative use of mint, especially those with cottage cheese fillings, yoghurt dressings and stuffings for vegetables such as eggplant, capsicums and tomatoes.
I also enjoy trying other varieties of mint and experimenting with their distinctive flavours, like Chocolate Mint, Apple Mint and Pineapple Mint.
Growing mint
All mint has the same basic requirements. They like rich, moist soil and partial sun.
Most mints are creeping and will spread quickly.
Because of their invasive nature they are best grown in pots. Another option is to plant them in pots and sink them in the ground. Just clip off the runners as they appear.
Water regularly so that they don't dry out. Should they suffer from rust just cut the plant right down.
They are perennials, dying down in winter but quickly sprouting again in spring. If they start getting straggly, just plant some of the rooted runners and you will soon have vigorous new plants.
Medicinal properties
The therapeutic properties of mint are probably underestimated. Their stimulating
quality is unusual because it is both energising and calming. Their action is gentle
yet very effective for the stomach, liver, nerves, blood and lymph circulation.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is the most strongly stimulating of the mints. It is excellent combined with Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) at the first sign of a cold, flu or fever. As a digestive aid it helps sooth the stomach-based form of headache. Many find it an acceptable substitute for coffee, giving that extra pickup without the harmful side effects. Its initial pungency stimulates the metabolism and is followed by a mild coolness, which refreshes.
The leaves and flowers can be harvested throughout the season and used to make herbal infusions (teas). Steep two or three fresh sprigs in a cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes, drain and drink. Alternatively make a tincture, which has a better shelf life.
"The Bouquet Garni Herb Info Pack"
Varieties of mint and their uses
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the common garden mint, very invasive. Is most often
used to make mint sauce or jelly. Leaves have a wonderful fresh taste that combines
well with other ingredients.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a less invasive variety. Good for flavouring sweets, sorbet and puddings. Makes a refreshing tea. Many healing properties (see above). Eau de Cologne Mint (Mentha piperita 'Citrata') is a variety of peppermint with bronze purplish green leaves. The leaves have a powerful scent, especially if grown in sun, and are best used in pot pourri or added to bathwater. Make a strong infusion, using a cupful of eau de cologne mint leaves to 500-ml boiling water, strainand add to the bathwater.
Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) slightly furry leaves, very invasive. Makes delicious tea, add to pork dishes, shred into salads, fruit salads, and desserts.
Pineapple Mint (Mentha 'variegata) A variety of apple mint but with cream and green leaves and light fragrance of pineapple. Add chopped leaves to salads and fruit salads; garnish summer drinks. Pick often to promote growth.
Chocolate Mint (Mentha) Add chopped leaves to chocolate desserts, ice-cream,chocolate sauces and even coffee.


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