As we get out and about now selling our herbs a Farmer’s Markets and Garden Festivals, I am frequently asked if I have any garlic. When I ask questions to clarify just what the customer is looking for, I am surprised that they are looking for seedlings so that they can grow their own Garlic. How marvelous! Just one problem…
If you want to grow garlic in Texas you need to plant is in September, the same with strawberries- but that is a whole other blog and soapbox. Once planted in September, the bulbs will sprout and grow all winter long then in June or so, the tops will start to turn brown and it is time to harvest. Yes, no matter where you live garlic takes that long to grow. But, it is so worth it and it really is easy.
To get started, you will need something to plant- right? Garlic can be purchased in the store as a bulb. In that bulb are many cloves. Each clove when planted will produce another bulb and the cycle just keeps going. So, once you purchase your garlic you will not ever need to purchase more, just save some cloves from your harvest and you will be good to go. You can plant the garlic from the grocer or you can order from a seed company. If you order from a seed company you will know exactly what variety you are getting and in the supermarket you will have no idea. I have planted plenty from the grocer and did just fine.
The looser the ground, the better for growing garlic. However, I have grown in clay and done fine. Just dig a little whole twice as deep as the clove is long and plant the clove pointy end up. Then wait. You can inter plant with something like lettuce that has a shallow root system to make use of the open soil and double your harvest from the same square footage. For the best harvest, you will need to water- but no more than you would for any other crop.
You will know when to harvest by the fact that the stalks have bloomed and now are beginning to turn brown. Use a pitch fork or something similar to loosen the soil. Gently pull the garlic up. Spread the stalks on a dry and flat surface and let the cure (dry out a bit and the outer “paper” will dry). Garlic can by stored for the better part of the year easily meaning that if you plant enough you will never need to buy garlic again.
When talking with folks about herbs I find that one of the big mysteries of growing herbs is how to get them from the garden to the table- especially in regards to medicinal herbs.
Well, the simplest way to use an herb to make you feel better is to make a simple tea. The directions below will seem overly simple but that is the point- it is simple.
Tea using fresh herbs:
A tablespoon of selected herb
1-2 cups of boiling water
Place herb in heat-proof container and pour water over the herb. Place a lid on the container and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. It is important to keep the container covered as the essential oil (where much of the herbal goodies are) will evaporate in the steam. Strain herb matter out.
Enjoy- that is it. I like to sweeten mine with honey and add lemon. The honey will also help with healing if you are ill.
Tea using dry herbs:
The same as above except the fresh herbs will be replaced with 1 tbsp of dried herbs.
If you are new to herbs, you probably think I am pulling your leg. But it is that easy to use herbs. Below is a blend of herbs I like for any winter illness that may be going on, this will make you feel much better.
Winter Illness Herbs
Dandelion Greens, Sage, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Catnip, and Rosemary- dry these herbs and process them in a food processor then use as above. In regards to the amounts- there is no right or wrong. I prefer the Lemon Balm and Peppermint to be in larger amounts due to the good flavor. Rosemary should be used in moderation as a little goes a long way and the flavor can overpower the others.
There are many reasons for making an infused oil and all are great. Really, the infused oils fall into two categories- for culinary purposes or medicinal purposes- because of all the great benefits of herbs, any oil used for culinary purposes gets to double as a medicinal oil. Either way, infused oils are made the same way- and it is simple.
You will need:
1 qt jar- clean and DRY
desired oil- I like to use olive oil, it is good for you and easily available.
Place 1/3 cup of dried herb in the jar, add enough oil to the jar to fully cover the herb. Check jar after a few hours to make sure the herb material has not soaked up the oil and left any of the herbs exposed. If this has happened, add more oil to cover herbs. Make certain that your jar and all utensils are dry as moisture will ruin your oil.
Cover the jar with a piece of cotton cloth, cheese cloth or an unbleached coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. Do not cap with a lid yet as the herbs may release gasses that can blow the lid off. The results would be awful to clean up! Let the oil infuse on a sunny window seal or the kitchen counter for at least 10 days.
After that time, strain out herb matter and discard to the compost pile.
The resulting oil can be stored in a glass bottle at room temperature for up to one year.
Suggestions for medicinal oil-
- Mullein for ear pain.- add a drop to the hurting ear.
- Calendula will sooth and heal skin
- Lemon Balm will help to sooth the nervous system.
- Simply rub oil on skin and let your skin absorb the oil and use the herbal goodness.
Suggestion for Culinary Oil-
- Lemon Pepper Oil- zest of one lemon, 2 tsp of multicolored peppercorns, 1 cup of olive oil
- Garlic, Chili, and Oregano
- Parsley and Cilantro
- Basil and Garlic
There are so many combinations so explore and be creative!
“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7
For centuries, herbs were used more for health and healing more so than for simply culinary purposes and hyssop is one of the oldest in recording.
Hyssop is one of those that has been known for its abilities to help clear excess mucous and phlegm. Hyssop is also said to be a caminative- an a herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence. With antiseptic properties, this is an herb that is also good for skin irritations , scrapes and bruises. An excellent herb for combating the common cold.
Two good sites for herb information say this about Hyssop
Medicinal Action and Uses—Expectorant, diaphoretic, stimulant, pectoral, carminative. The healing virtues of the plant are due to a particular volatile oil, which is stimulative, carminative and sudorific. It admirably promotes expectoration, and in chronic catarrh its diaphoretic and stimulant properties combine to render it of especial value. It is usually given as a warm infusion, taken frequently and mixed with Horehound. Hyssop Tea is also a grateful drink, well adapted to improve the tone of a feeble stomach, being brewed with the green tops of the herb, which are sometimes boiled in soup to be given for asthma. In America, an infusion of the leaves is used externally for the relief of muscular rheumatism, and also for bruises and discoloured contusions, and the green herb, bruised and applied, will heal cuts promptly. A Modern Herbal
Hyssop is used in herbal medicine to move excesses of fluids or phlegm. Since the expectorant qualities of the herb depend on its essential oil, always brew hyssop tea in a closed vessel and keep the bottle of hyssop tincture tightly closed. American folklore prescribes a bath of hyssop to help ease rheumatism. Japanese research published in 2003 in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology suggests that hyssop teas can help lower the sharp increase in blood sugars after eating which is common to people who have or who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Mountain Rose Herbs
There is also good information at www.livestrong.com
Not only does hyssop help the body, it is beautiful in the garden. An evergreen perennial, bushy herb, growing 1 to 2 feet high, with square stem, linear leaves and flowers in whorls, six- to fifteen-flowered. The blooms, depending on the variety of the plant, are going from August to October. The colors of the herb vary in color some being blue, white or red. Just as with all other herbs, butterflies and insects love the blooms. Being an evergreen you will have green herb to work with all year long.
Your health, your responsibility-For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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|A “mini- clothesline” works great for drying small amounts of herbs|
Well, Jenny (the rabbit) is better. She still has a runny nose, but she is no longer congested. As a precaution, we are feeding all the rabbits dandelions. We were going to use the tincture, but the thought of all the syringes we would have to fill was overwhelming. Then it occured to me that we could just feed them the fresh stuff and the bunnies would LOVE it. Sierra and I dug some this morning and the bunnies did love it.
I really need to get the tilling finished. It will be time to start planting certain seeds in two weeks. I weeded the spinach patch. This spinach was planted in the fall. It has been rooted up by piglets, burried under 6 inches of snow, and froze. I cannot believe how beautiful it is. I had given it up for dead. Sierra helped me and then we fed the organic greens (weeds) to the chickens.