5 Reasons Rosemary Should Grow In Your Garden

Upright Rosemary

“What’s your favorite herb?”

This is probably the question I am asked most often.  I couldn’t pick a favorite herb- possibly a Top 10 list, but never a favorite.

Rosemary is an herb that would ALWAYS be on this list and very likely in the #1 spot.  The reasons are many- from ease of growing to the powerful medicinal benefits- but for sake of time, I will narrow it down to five reasons you will love Rosemary.

5 Reasons To Grow Rosemary

#1 Rosemary loves heat.

I have always gardened in Texas and it is ALWAYS hot in the summer.  Rosemary doesn’t care, in fact- it likes it!  Because Rosemary hails from hot, arid conditions in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, its DNA makes it perfect for Texas gardens and the great majority of the United States. This is definitely an herb that should be a foundation of your herb garden.

#2  Rosemary Protects Against Alzheimer’s

Rosemary may also become useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease in the near future. Researchers have discovered that certain phytochemicals in the herb prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, an important brain chemical needed for normal neurotransmission. A deficiency of this chemical is commonly seen in Alzheimer’s patients.  See full article here

I, personally, am not waiting for all the test results, I have started including rosemary in our family’s diet on a daily basis.  An easy way to use rosemary medicinally is in a tincture.

#3 Rosemary Makes A Great Hedge

Rosemary can be utilized as a shrub.  If you are feeling creative, rosemary can be shaped into topiary.  But more simply, plant as a hedge and trim like any other landscape hedge- except save the clippings and make a tincture!

Rosemary is heat and drought tolerant so it saves on water usage.  Very few pest or fungal problems exist with rosemary.

It blooms!  Very pretty light blue flowers appear in spring and continue for several weeks.  Some years, rosemary will bloom again in the fall.

#4 Bees LOVE Rosemary

Its becoming common knowledge (THANK GOD) that our bee population is in trouble and if the bees go, we go.  Two of every three bites we eat are pollinated by bees.  As we have said, Rosemary needs little care and won’t need spraying of any kind to look beautiful, so it is a great choice for feeding bees, butterflies and a whole host of beneficial insects.  So, plant some rosemary for the bees.  Don’t worry about getting stung, the bees have way too much work to do to worry over you.

#5 Rosemary Will Make You A Great Cook

Well, I may be over-selling rosemary’s abilities just a bit. However, it can’t hurt.  Rosemary can transform a dull chicken or homely sweet potato into something fantastic with very little effort.  Just sprinkle the chopped rosemary in the pot and – VIOLA!

Not only does rosemary taste great, but by adding it to your food you are taking advantage of the health benefits and those are many:

“Indigestion

Rosemary leaf is used in Europe for indigestion (dyspepsia) and is approved by the German Commission E, which examines the safety and efficacy of herbs.

Muscle and joint pain

Applied topically (to the skin), rosemary oil is sometimes used to treat muscle pain and arthritis and improve circulation. It is approved by the German Commission E for these purposes.

Alopecia

Historically, rosemary has been used to stimulate hair growth. In one study of 84 people with alopecia areata (a disease in which hair falls out, generally in patches), those who massaged their scalps with rosemary and other essential oils (including lavender, thyme, and cedarwood) every day for 7 months experienced significant hair regrowth compared to those who massaged their scalps without the essential oils. But the study was not well designed, and it is impossible to say whether rosemary caused the hair growth.

Neutralize food-borne pathogens

Several studies show that rosemary inhibits food-borne pathogens like Listeria monocytogenesB. cereus, and S. aureus.

Improve memory or concentration

Rosemary is often used in aromatherapy to increase concentration and memory, and to relieve stress. One study suggests that rosemary, combined with other pleasant-smelling oils, may lower cortisol levels and help reduce anxiety. Another study found that the use of lavender and rosemary essential oil sachets reduced test taking stress in graduate nursing students.

Cancer

Several studies suggest that rosemary extract may inhibit tumor growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating. One study found that rosemary, on its own and in combination with curcumin, helped prevent breast cancer. A second study found similar effects of rosemary on colon cancer cells.” Article here

So, you see, Rosemary should really be in your garden or at least in a pot on your patio!

I am also sure that you understand that I am NOT a doctor nor have I tried to diagnose or treat any of your ailments.

Bee on the Rosemary Bloom herb
upright-rosemary.jpg

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How To Choose Herbs For The Garden

island bed garden with herbs

Of all the plants we have sold over the years, herbs definitely draw the most attention.  And for good reason, the uses are too many to list, most are extremely hardy, and they are beautiful.  For a beginner gardener, herbs are a great place to start because of the ease of growing.

Before I get into the different aspects of herb gardening, I would like to clarify some vocabulary words:

Herbs are generally grown in all temperate regions of the planet.  For the most part, it is the aerial parts, roots, and blossoms of these plants that are used for cooking, medicine, and fragrance.

Spices, on the other hand, are grown around the equator and it is the seeds that are used for the fragrance, cooking, and medicinal qualities.  But then to muddy the waters, you have some plants that are both.  Cilantro is an herb as you use the leaves in your cooking but, if you let it go to seed then you have Coriander- a spice.

Now, some herbs are herbaceous and some are not.  Herbaceous means that the green plant parts die back to the ground each winter and the roots put out new plants each spring.

Now, let’s get planting.  Regardless if your yard or garden is shady, full sun or somewhere in between, there are herbs for you to grow.  The things to consider as you choose you plants are their origin, water requirements, growth habits,  and their function.  Each of these factors will determine what plants you choose and where you put them.

Understanding where herbs come from will tell you a lot about the growing conditions they will need.  If a plant originates in the Mediterranean region, you can bet it will be a tough plant that has relatively low water requirements, sun loving, and tolerant of poor soils.  Lavender, Rosemary, and Oregano are examples of such plants.  I had a Rosemary plant that doubled in size in the worst drought in Texas history with no extra water.  Needless to say, when folks come to me asking about tough shrubs that will tolerate our heat- I recommend Rosemary.

On the other end of things, if a plant is naturally found in moist woodlands, you will need to provide a shady spot with rich soil for that herb.  Goldenseal is an example of just such an herb.  Their origins also point to their water requirements.

Obviously, you don’t want to put a plant that likes dry conditions with a plant that needs regular watering.  Thus, mint and lavender are not good roomies.  Mint with Calendula or Pineapple Sage are good choices for a container.  Lavender, Sage, and Rosemary are good buddies with greek oregano acting as a ground-cover in a sunny spot.

Just as you would plant a flower garden with tall plants being at the back and low growers being located at the front, these same considerations need to be given to the growth habits of herbs.  There are so many sizes and shapes to choose from along with blossom color, scent, and function.

Let your imagination be free, there are no rules.  If you like the formal gardens with clipped boxwood as edgings, then plant that type of garden.  For those of you with free spirits drawn to the rambling, free forms of plants then plant away and enjoy the seed heads blowing and nodding in the breezes.  Joy is one of the great harvest reaped from herbs.  Some things you plant will die.  Don’t let that discourage you, plant again.  If it lives and thrives, plant more of it.

Beans, and Texas natives make good companions with herbs.

Herbs I love in Texas:

Thyme- creeping lemon, Sage (Salvia Officinallis), Italian Oregano, Lemon Balm, Citronella, Mints, Salad Brunet, Parsley, Texas Tarragon,  Roses, Lemongrass, Anise Hyssop, Borage, Dandelion, Dill to name a few.

t with an herb
Grandbabies are great at choosing herbs! Tansy is a little plant in the cup, but it will grow to a large shrub with lots of flowers for pollinators!

Help For Reoccuring Ear Infections

As I mentioned in my previous post,  my second daughter had a terrible time as an infant and toddler with ear infections.  At that time, I knew nothing of alternative medicine or holistic healing so I did what the vast majority of mothers do- I took her to the pediatrician.  He, then did what most doctors do and prescribed an antibiotic.

This cycle began and continued to several years.  When there seemed to be no end to the infections, tubes in the ears started to be mentioned.  I was not excited about this because I had heard where it was just another cycle of treatments and surgeries that did not really fix anything.

Along came Dr. Tina Ingram.  She and I were friends at church and as all young mothers do we discussed what was going on in our children’s lives.  She knew of our struggle with ear infections and asked me to let her have a try at helping Savannah.  My infant daughter, Sierra, also had an ear infection at the same time so, Dr. Tina treated her as well.  Both girls had vertebrate in their necks that were out of line, pinching the Eustachian tubes preventing the ears from draining off excess fluid.

Notice the tube leads from the inner ear to the throat, this allows for drainage
Notice the tube leads from the inner ear to the throat, this allows for drainage

Sierra, the 3 month old, was a simple adjustment, she just celebrated her 15th birthday and has never had another ear infection.  Savannah was a bit more complicated.  As it turns out, she had a vertebrate wedged up under her scull.  Not only did she have ear infections but she was really clumsy.  She tripped a lot and lost her balance.  We would get tickled at her and then we parents felt like heels when we learned that her clumsiness was due to her legs being uneven because her vertebrate as under her skull- poor baby.  In case you are wondering, as I was, just how did the vertebrate get there?  Dr. Tina suspects it occurred while she was passing through the birth canal.  The bones are very soft at that time and as you might imagine, birthing involves a great deal of pressure.  When my fourth baby arrived, we made a bee line to Dr. Tina just to be certain that everything was inline.

After a series of visits, Dr. Tina had Savannah all straightened out.  Come to find out, Savannah is our most gifted athlete and rarely loses her balance.  The ear infections did reoccur for a time.  The heavy use of antibiotics had suppressed her immune system so it took time for her body to learn how to protect and heal itself again.  We began to use garlic oil as an antibiotic.  Given time, the infections ceased and tubes were not needed.  Her ears are still the weak link in her system, if she gets sick(which is rare) this is where it will show up- but with the right natural treatments she heals up.

As it turns out, we were not alone in the neck being the source of the ear infections- this is an excellent article:

Ear Infections (Ottis Media)

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over five million children suffer from chronic ear infections, resulting in 30 million visits to doctors’ offices and over 10 million prescriptions of antibiotics each year. 50% of the antibiotics prescribed for preschoolers are for ear infections. Symptoms of ear infections may include mild discomfort, irritability, fever or severe pain. Almost half of all children will have at least one middle ear infection before they’re a year old, and two-thirds of them will have had at least one such infection by age three. Frequent ear infections are the second leading cause for surgery in children under two – right behind circumcision.

If you have little ones in your life, seek advice from a pediatric certified chiropractor in your area.  I believed that chiropractors were just for car accidents and bad backs- boy was I wrong.