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CRYSTAL GARDENS

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HOW TO GROW AND USE HERBS

 

Every garden –however small –ought to have some herbs. Whether you live in an apartment setting or own compound there is always room for herbs.

Herbs provide multiple  uses and come in a wide variety.  They serve medicinal, culinary and aromatherapy purposes. In ancient Rome, Egypt and the Arabia herbs were actively exploited for these uses.

Herbs are easy to grow. Like vegetables, they prefer sunlight and well drained fertile soils enriched with compost. If your soil is clay in nature, you can amend it by adding sand and compost. Most herbs can be raised from cuttings-which means you can get them for free from a neighbor or friend. Taking cuttings from perennial herbs like rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, scented geranium, sage among others is the easiest way to propagate.  All you need is growing medium and clean secateurs.

Take a cutting of three leaves and a shoot from a side branches. Trim the stem to the lowest leaf point and insert it into the damp compost in a pot. Since warmth is essential for germination, create a greenhouse effect by wrapping the pot in a plastic bag. The moisture and heat will be trapped inside enabling the cuttings to go for a few days without water. Alternatively, it is possible to put these cuttings directly into the soil, though this will call for regular watering and shading.

Generally most people opt to buy ready sown herbs.

Below is a look at our all-time favourite herbs.

 

     

Rosemary with purple  verbena        Lemon balm (Melissa)         Lemon grass   

 

Thyme                                                  Sage                                         Lavender                

 

Rosemary

The rosemary is   highly regarded and remains popular worldwide. Its beautiful compact shape allows it to be shaped into various shapes that turn it into a display specimen. The rosemary is also good for internal hedges. Its culinary use is legendary.  

To make a cup of rosemary tea put one quarter of rosemary sprigs into one cup of boiling water, stand for five minutes and sieve. Sip slowly. You can sweeten with honey.

Lavender

Try rubbing a lavender leaf between your fingers and breadth in the smell. The fragrance is unforgettable. The name lavender is derived from the Latin word “lavare” which implies to wash. Romans used it for their clothes, beds, soaps and hair.

The common lavenders are the English, French and Spanish lavenders. They are rich in amino acids and have sedative, anti-septic and anti-bacterial qualities. They quickly relieve sore throats, first degree burns and aching muscles. The oil is often used in aromatherapy. Lavender like rosemary is fairly drought resistant, although during the dry spell a weekly watering will see it flower throughout the year. Its popularity in the kitchen can be seen from the many recipes it features in.

Lemon balm

Long regarded one of nature’s best anti-depressant and calming herbs, Melissa was prescribed for over indulgence and indigestion in Rome, Arabia and Greece. Modern medicine has indeed confirmed its reputation for dispelling anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is mint and lemon flavoured and is superb in vinegars, sauces and garnishes. Use the leaves in teas, drinks and for cooking before it goes into flower. The chopped leaves are sprinkled over fruits, salads, pasta, chicken and fish. In the garden Melissa attracts to help in pollination and improve the yields of cucumbers and tomatoes. Insects distaste its lemon fragrance and  it is therefore perfect for controlling mosquitoes, flies and ants.

Thyme

The Romans used thyme to flavor cheese while in Greece it was used as a source of invigoration and courage. Today its culinary and medicinal uses are plentiful. More common is its use as a tonic herb to support the body’s normal functions and fight ageing, as well as an anti-septic that is dabbed on wounds, stings and bites. In the garden bees are fond of thyme and add fine flavor to honey.

Sage

Sage is a tasty garnish with any snack. Its Latin name connotes healing properties. For a sore throat, gargle made with fresh leaves is soothing, and sage tea is traditionally held as a nerve tonic that also aids in emery retention and remedying menopausal symptoms. However its propagation is done through layering. Branches are tied to the ground and covered with soil. After rooting they are then cut and planted.

Lemon grass

A popular herb massively cultivated worldwide beyond its origins of India and Sri-Lanka for its Lemon taste and lemon scented oil. The lemon is used to flavor rice dishes, milk puddings, cakes, and deserts.

A leaf blade placed in warm milk remedies colic in children and old peplum and brings down fever. Its famed tea relaxes muscles of the stomach and intestines, relives cramps and heart burn. This tea is made by adding a quarter cup of chopped leaf blades to one cup of boiling water. Leave to stand for five minutes then sieve and drink.

Lemon grass is the easiest of herbs to grow; simply divide it at the base and plant the offsets.

Note that while you may grow herbs and use them for the kitchen without reference, it is recommended that you seek a doctor’s opinion when using herbs for medical treatments.

Every garden –however small –ought to have some herbs. Whether you live in an apartment setting or own compound there is always room for a herb or two.

Herbs provide multiple  uses and come in a wide variety.  They serve medicinal, culinary and aromatherapy purposes. In ancient Rome, Egypt and the Arabia herbs were actively exploited for these uses.

Herbs are easy to grow. Like vegetables, they prefer sunlight and well drained fertile soils enriched with compost. If your soil is clay in nature, you can amend it by adding sand and compost. Most herbs can be raised from cuttings-which means you can get them for free from a neighbor or friend. Taking cuttings from perennial herbs like rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, scented geranium, sage among others is the easiest way to propagate.  All you need is growing medium and clean secateurs.

Take a cutting of three leaves and a shoot from a side branches. Trim the stem to the lowest leaf point and insert it into the damp compost in a pot. Since warmth is essential for germination, create a greenhouse effect by wrapping the pot in a plastic bag. The moisture and heat will be trapped inside enabling the cuttings to go for a few days without water. Alternatively, it is possible to put these cuttings directly into the soil, though this will call for regular watering and shading.

Generally most people opt to buy ready sown herbs.

Below is a look at our all-time favourite herbs.

Rosemary

The rosemary is   highly regarded and remains popular worldwide. Its beautiful compact shape allows it to be shaped into various shapes that turn it into a display specimen. The rosemary is also good for internal hedges. Its culinary use is legendary.  

To make a cup of rosemary tea put one quarter of rosemary sprigs into one cup of boiling water, stand for five minutes and sieve. Sip slowly. You can sweeten with honey.

Lavender

Try rubbing a lavender leaf between your fingers and breadth in the smell. The fragrance is unforgettable. The name lavender is derived from the Latin word “lavare” which implies to wash. Romans used it for their clothes, beds, soaps and hair.

The common lavenders are the English, French and Spanish lavenders. They are rich in amino acids and have sedative, anti-septic and anti-bacterial qualities. They quickly relieve sore throats, first degree burns and aching muscles. The oil is often used in aromatherapy. Lavender like rosemary is fairly drought resistant, although during the dry spell a weekly watering will see it flower throughout the year. Its popularity in the kitchen can be seen from the many recipes it features in.

Lemon balm

Long regarded one of nature’s best anti-depressant and calming herbs, Melissa was prescribed for over indulgence and indigestion in Rome, Arabia and Greece. Modern medicine has indeed confirmed its reputation for dispelling anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is mint and lemon flavoured and is superb in vinegars, sauces and garnishes. Use the leaves in teas, drinks and for cooking before it goes into flower. The chopped leaves are sprinkled over fruits, salads, pasta, chicken and fish. In the garden Melissa attracts to help in pollination and improve the yields of cucumbers and tomatoes. Insects distaste its lemon fragrance and  it is therefore perfect for controlling mosquitoes, flies and ants.

Thyme

The Romans used thyme to flavor cheese while in Greece it was used as a source of invigoration and courage. Today its culinary and medicinal uses are plentiful. More common is its use as a tonic herb to support the body’s normal functions and fight ageing, as well as an anti-septic that is dabbed on wounds, stings and bites. In the garden bees are fond of thyme and add fine flavor to honey.

Sage

Sage is a tasty garnish with any snack. Its Latin name connotes healing properties. For a sore throat, gargle made with fresh leaves is soothing, and sage tea is traditionally held as a nerve tonic that also aids in emery retention and remedying menopausal symptoms. However its propagation is done through layering. Branches are tied to the ground and covered with soil. After rooting they are then cut and planted.

Lemon grass

A popular herb massively cultivated worldwide beyond its origins of India and Sri-Lanka for its Lemon taste and lemon scented oil. The lemon is used to flavor rice dishes, milk puddings, cakes, and deserts.

A leaf blade placed in warm milk remedies colic in children and old peplum and brings down fever. Its famed tea relaxes muscles of the stomach and intestines, relives cramps and heart burn. This tea is made by adding a quarter cup of chopped leaf blades to one cup of boiling water. Leave to stand for five minutes then sieve and drink.

Lemon grass is the easiest of herbs to grow; simply divide it at the base and plant the offsets.

Note that while you may grow herbs and use them for the kitchen without reference, it is recommended that you seek a doctor’s opinion when using herbs for medical treatments.

 

 

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