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Botanical name: Osimum basilicum
Care: Spring Sow seeds in early spring with warmth and watch out for damping-off; plant out around the end of the season. Alternatively, sow directly into the ground after any frosts. Summer: Keep pinching out young plants to promote new leaf growth and to prevent flowering. Harvest the leaves. Autumn: Collect seeds of plants allowed to flower. Before first frosts, bring pots into the house and place on the windowsill. Dig up old plants and dig over the area ready for new plantings.
In containers: Basil is happy on a kitchen windowsill and in pots on the patio, and purple basil makes a good centerpiece in a hanging basket. In Europe basil is placed in pots outside houses to repel flies. Water well at midday but do not overwater. If that is not possible, water earlier in the day rather than later and again do not overwater.
Uses: Popular in italian cooking. Basil can also be used as insect repellent by rubbing leaves on skin
Ingredients: 1 Tbsp pine nuts, 4 Tbsp chopped basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, 6 Tbsp olive or sesame oil Instructions: Blend the pine nuts, basil, and chopped garlic until smooth. Add the oil slowly and continue to blend the mixture until you have a thick paste. Season with salt to taste. Stir the sauce into the cooked pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
In containers:Use the bark, peat potting soil. Pinch out the growing tips to keep the plant from becoming too tall and leggy. Deadhead flowers to encourage more blooms.
Uses: Harvest Pick flowers just as they open during summer, both
for fresh use and for drying. Dry at a low temperature. You can make a
colorful oil. Calendulas look very cheerful in containers and combine
well with other plants. Well suited to window boxes, but not so in hanging
baskets, where they tip over and look sloppy.
In containers: I would not advise growing chamomiles indoors, as they get very leggy, soft, and prone to disease. But the flowers can look very cheerful in a sunny window box outdoors. Use chamomile 'Flore Pleno', which has a lovely double flower head, or the nonflowering 'Treneague' as an infill between bulbs, with a bark, grit, peat potting soil.
Uses: Chamomile is a popular and soothing tea. Collect and dry the flowers for use in tea.
In containers: Grown indoors, the plants get stretched and leggy. However, in containers outside all the feverfews flourish. Golden feverfew, having the most compact habit, looks very effective in a hanging basket, tub, or windowbox. Use the bark, peat mix of potting soil. Keep the plants regularly watered and feed during flowering. Cut back plants after flowering as this will help maintain their shape.
Uses: The young leaves of fevertew can be added to salads,
but be warned they are very bitter, so add sparingly.
A decoction or infusion of the leaves is a mild disinfectant, and the leaves in sachets make a good moth repellent.
In containers: If you have low winter temperatures, lavenders cannot be treated as a hardy evergreen. Treated as a container plant, however, it can be protected in winter and enjoyed just as well in the summer. Choose containers to set the lavender off; they all suit terra-cotta. Use a welldrained potting soil: the peat, bark, grit mix suits them well. The ideal position is sun, but all lavenders will cope with partial shade, though the aroma can be impaired. Feed regularly through the flowering season with liquid fertilizer, following the manufacturer's instructions. Keep in a cool (50 F) bright place for winter. Allow the soil to dry out in winter (not totally, but nearly), and slowly reintroduce watering in spring.
Medicinal: Oil-burn and sting remedy, antiseptic, drop
on temple for headache relief, massage oil, aromatherapy for throat infections,
skin sores, inflammation, rhumatic aches, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Uses: Potpourri-dry and sew into pillow or tie in tulle sachet.
Culinary: use in jellies, vinegars.
Ingredients: 4 oz. of butter, 2 oz sugar, 6 oz. flour, 2 Tbsp of freshly chopped lavender leaves, 1 tsp lavender flowers
Instructions: Cream butter and sugar together till light. Add flour and lavender leaves. Knead well till forms a dough. Gently roll out onto lightly floured board. Scatter the flowers over the rolled dough and lightly press in with a rolling pin. Cut into shapes. Place biscuits onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 F for 8-10 min. Remove and cool on wire tray.
In containers: If you live in an area that suffers from very cold winters, the gold form would benefit from being grown in containers. This method suits those with a small garden who do not want a takeover bid from lemon balm. Use the bark, peat, grit mix of potting soil. Only feed with liquid fertilizer in the summer, otherwise the growth will become too lush and soft, and aroma and color diminished. Water normally throughout the growing season. Allow the container to become very dry (but not totally) in winter, and keep the pots in a cool, protected environment. Repot in spring.
Uses: Lemon Balm is one of those herbs that smells delicious
but tastes like school-boiled cabbage water when cooked. Add fresh leaves
to vinegar. Add leaves to wine cups, teas and beers, or use chopped with
fish and mushroom dishes. Mix freshly chopped with soft cheeses. Lemon
balm tea is said to relieve headaches and tension and to restore the memory.
It is also good to drink after meals to ease the digestion, flatulence,
and colic. Use fresh or frozen leaves in infusions because the volatile
oil tends to disappear during the drying process. The isolated oil
used in aromatherapy is recommended for nervousness, depression, insomnia,
and nervous headaches. It also helps eczma sufferers.
This is a most useful plant to keep bees happy. The flower may look boring to you, but it is sheer heaven to them. So plant lemon balm around beehives or orchards to attract pollinating bees.
In containers: Mint is good in containers. Make sure the container is large enough, use a soilbased compost, and do not let the soil dry out. Feed regularly throughout the growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Place the container in semi-shade. Protect the container-grown mint by storing it in a cold frame or unheated basement for winter. Divide and repot each year in early spring.
Uses: Peppermint is aromatic, calmative, antiseptic, antispasmodic,
anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, and is also a stimulant.
It can be used in a number of ways for a variety of complaints including
gastro-intestinal disorders where antispasmodic, anti-flatulent and appetite-promoting
stimulation is required. It is particularly useful for nervous headaches,
and as a way to increase concentration. Externally, peppermint oil can
be used in a massage to relieve muscular pain.
In containers: Parsley is an ideal herb for containers. It even likes living inside on a sunny but cool windowsill, as long as it is watered,fed, and cut. Use the bark, peat mix of potting soil. Curly parsley can look very ornamental as an edging to a large pot of nasturtiums. It can also be grown in hanging baskets, (keep well watered), window boxes (give it some shade in high summer), and containers. That brings me to the strawberry pot, the one with six holes around the side. Do not use it. As I have already said, parsley likes moisture, and these containers dry out toofast, the holes in the side are small and make it very difficult to water, and the parsley has too big a taproot to be happy.
Uses: Parsley is rich in vitamin C and iron, breath freshener, increases mother's milk and strengthens uterine muscle, antiseptic, and for insect bites. In cooking it is used in salads, soups (i.e. tomato)
Ingredients: 1 Tbsp. honey, 2 Tbsp. light oil, 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. dry yeast, 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups very hot water, 1 cup unbleached white flour, 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal, 1 cup finely minced parsley
Instructions: In a small bowl, combine the honey, lukewarm water and yeast. In a large bowl, combine the hot water, cornmeal, oil and salt. When the mixture has cooled to warm, add the yeast mixture. Add the flours, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir the parsley into the batter. Leave the bowl in a warm place, covered with a damp towel until the batter triples in size. Beat the batter down with a wooden spoon, and turn it into a standard size, oiled loaf pan. Let rise for 15 min. Preheat oven to 450 F. Bake loaf for 10 min. Reduce to 350 and bake for 50 min. or until loaf is rich brown.
In containers: Rosemary does well in pots and is the preferred way to grow it in cold districts. The prostrate and less hardy varieties look very attractive and benefit from the extra protection offered by a container. Use the bark, grit, peat mix and make sure the potting soil is very well drained. Do not overwater, and feed only after flowering.
Uses: Tea drunk in small amounts reduces flatulence and aids digestion, tea can also be used as surface antiseptic, oil can be used as insect repellent. It gives off delicious aroma in wood fires, soak leaves overnight in water to be used as a hair tonic in final rinse of wash to make hair shine. Rosemary is good with lamb, casseroles, tomato sauces, baked fish, rice, salads, egg dishes, apples, summer wine cups, cordials, vinegar, and oils.
Ingredients: 2 Tbsp of rosemary olive oil, 2 med. onions (sliced), 1 dessert spoon of whole meal flour, 1 Tbsp paprika, 10 oz. of hot water mixed with 1 tsp. of tomato puree, 14 oz. italian tomatoes, 2 sprigs rosemary, 8 oz. cauliflower sprigs, 8 oz. new carrots (washed and cut into chunks), 8 oz new potatoes, 1/2 green capsicum (seeded and chopped), 5 oz. sour cream, salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Heat the rosemary oil and fry onion till soft. Stir in paprika and cook for 2 min. Stir in water, tomatoes, and rosemary. Bring to boil, constantly stirring. Add all vegetables and seasonings. Cover and bake in preheated 375 F oven for 30-40 min. Remove from oven and remove rosemary sprigs and stir in sour cream plus a bit o paprika. Serve with fresh pasta, rice, or garlic bread.
In containers: All varieties suit being grown in containers. They like a free-draining soil low in nutrients; if grown in a rich soil they will become soft and the flavor will be impaired. Use the peat, grit, bark mix of potting soil; water sparingly, keeping the container bordering on dry, and in winter definitely dry, only watering if absolutely necessary, when the leaves begin to lose too much colour. Feed only occasionally in the summer months. Put the container in a sunny spot, which will help the aromatic oils come to the leaf surface and impart a better flavor. Trim back after flowering to maintain shape and promote new growth.
Use: Although a medical dose drawn from the whole plant
is safe, any amount of the volatile oil is toxic and should not be used
internally except by prescription. Avoid altogether if you are pregnant.
Medicinal: use as tea for a gargle or mouthwash-an excellent remedy for sore throats or infected gums and hangovers.
Cooking: good with fish or chicken
great for gravies and sauces, marinades and dressings.
Ingredients: 10 Tblsps. chopped herbs. Ones to try: basil, chervil, dill fennel, garlic, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, rosemary, thyme, savory or tarragon.
2 cups white wine or cider vinegar
Directions: Pound the leaves gently in a mortar. Heat half the vinegar until warm, BUT DO NOT BOIL. Pour this over the herbs in the motar. Pound further to release the flavors of the herbs. Leave to cool. Mix this mixture with the remaining vinegar and pour into a wide necked bottle. Seal tightly. Remember to use an acid proof lid Put on a sunny windowsil and shake everyday for 2 weeks. Test for flavor; if a stronger taste is required, strain the vinegar and repeat with resh herbs. Store as is or strain through double muslin and rebottle. Add a fresh sprig of the chosen herb to the bottle for ease of identification.
great for salad dressing, marinades, stir frys and sauteing.
Made in much the same way as the above vinegars.
Basil Oil- one of the best ways to store and capture the flavors of basil
4Tblsps basil leaves, 2 cups olive or sunflower oil.
Directions: Remove leaves from stalks, and crush the leaves in a mortar. Pound slightly, add oil, pound a little more. Mix the leaves with the remaining oil in a tightly sealed wide mouth jar.. PLace on a window sill 2 weeks, shaking every day. Strain through muslin, rebottle -add a few leaves for decoration, identification. This recipe works nicely also on: sage, dill, fennel, sweet marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and garlic (use 4 crushed cloves).
Bouquet garni oil
Combine 1Tblsp. sage, 1Tblsp lemon thyme, 1Tblsp greek oregano, 1 Tblsp parsley, 1 bay leaf, 2 cups olive or sunflower oil. See above Directions.
To make a sweet oil, use almond oil instead of olive or sunflower. Make as for herb oils above. Good herbs to try: Carnation flowers, lavender petals, lemon verbena, rose petals, and scented geraniums.