Many people only know the joys of herbs through buying them at the grocery store. But, there are enough of us out there who enjoy the propagating, the growing the picking, and finally, using the fresh herbs in food.
I know one of my friends only uses herbs that she picks just before cooking or eating. Herbs are also extensively used for remedies.
Herbal Nutrition Supplements: What Are They? The National Library of Medicine gives this definition: “Herbal supplements are a type of dietary supplement… that contain herbs, either singly or in mixtures”. Herbal nutrition supplements come in a variety of different forms, however, and some are better and safer than others. The Mayo Clinic advises you to “select products that have been scientifically tested”.
There is a good chance that quality herbal nutrition supplement may be a healthy choice for you. Herbal nutrition supplements are excellent for people who are unable to meet their nutritional requirements because of food allergies, medical conditions, or busy schedules that don’t leave enough time to control and monitor nutrient intake.
A very dear friend of mine swears by the following herb book. She has a German copy, and it is well worn with age. Whenever anyone of us has an ailment, out comes Maria Treben. She has become a well known and respected friend. Those of European heritage will be very familiar with the work and theories of Maria Treben. “Health Through God’s Pharmacy”
Cutting And Propagating
Select a plant that has a dominant single stem. Take a good look at it, really take your time with this step. I realize it might sound like a Zen exercise but it will make the process clearer and much more pleasurable if you look at the plant and picture how it wants to grow and how you want to train it.
Hopefully those two processes will be somewhat compatible. Otherwise you will be constantly fighting the plant. Pick a plant that is healthy and vigorous. One that looks at you and says “I love growing and I’m so fabulous there should be more of me”. Choose stems that are coming out of the sides of the plant not in the middle. I used to know the reason why, but that bit of knowledge is at present unretrievable. Side shoots root faster.
You want a cutting no more than 3″. Bigger is not better! Strip the leaves off the bottom ½ to 2/3 of the cutting. If you can do this with your fingers it is preferable to using a scissors. You want enough leaves for the plant to be able to make food but not too many so that it can’t concentrate on growing roots. If the plant is flowering (not an ideal time to propagate but it can be done) cut off all the flowering buds. You don’t want it’s energy directed there.
Make the final cut it a node (an intersection where one or more leaves jut out of the stem) because there is more growth hormone at that site. If you can make the cut at an angle, more of the stem will be exposed to start to root. I don’t use extra growth hormone powder, most growers don’t. You have more chance of killing the cutting with it. If there is already enough hormone in site, adding more puts the plant into a tailspin. Let the plant grow 6 inches higher than you want it to be. Clip the tip at the desired finished height. Clip off the rest of the side shoots on the bottom stem to where the bottom of the ball is going to be. By now you might have to use a clipper for this, as your fingers may not be up to the job.
When you are doing the trimming and you have some good size pieces, use them for cuttings. Let the plant grow again. If the main stem is not growing terribly straight or it isn’t strong, put in a support stick. Use a non-organic stick to loosely tie your plant’s straight stem to. A plastic chop stick works really well. Insert the stick into the ground gently to avoid destroying roots. Avoid using a wood stick to train your plant with. If the plant is in a humid environment the wooden stick will start growing friendly little green things. Never cut off more than one-third of a plant at a time, and give young plants time to re-grow before harvesting from them again.
Raised beds for extremely well drained soil. Low to moderate soil fertility. Keep soil constantly moist – especially in summer. If regular watering is not possible, a 10cm deep mulch keeps soil moist.
How to use herbs
Soups and stews develop their best flavors when the herbs and spices are added during cooking. If they are long-cooking soups or stews, wait until the last 30 minutes to add the seasonings because prolonged cooking in liquid can dissipate the flavor. The same is true for sauces.
To develop the flavor of dried herbs, soak them for several minutes in a liquid that can be used in the recipe. To release the flavor of dried herbs, crumble them before adding to the dish. When using herbs and spices in salad dressing, allow the flavor of the combination to develop by soaking for at least 15 minutes. Most meats may be seasoned before, during or after cooking. Steaks and chops can be marinated and seasoned either before or after cooking. To get the most flavor from roasted meat or poultry, rub its surface with seasoning before cooking. Poultry absorbs flavors better if the seasoning is rubbed directly into the flesh, rather than the skin. Soups and stews develop their best flavors when the herbs and spices are added during cooking. If they are long-cooking soups or stews, wait until the last 30 minutes to add the seasonings because prolonged cooking in liquid can dissipate the flavor. The same is true for sauces. Add a peeled, whole raw potato to the dish to absorb some of the flavor. Remove the potato just before serving.