Posted by: Brenda Kula | April 7, 2008

More Herb Tidbits

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Did you know that roses fall into the herb family? They are used to make potpourris, vinegars, and preserves. Of course there are all sorts of uses for roses.

For harvesting and storing, gather the petals before they’re completely open and dry them quickly on screens or paper.

Below: Violets

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Violets are another perennial. I have mine here in a pot. It has been happy in this location for several years. My neighbor puts her violets in the ground. She gave me a start of this, and look at it now! Mine looks about ready to be divided. And then I’ll probably put some in the ground also.

Violets like partial shade. Ideal soil conditions are rich, moist soil. You can sow the seed if you like. They flower April to May and have fragrant purple, violet, white, or pink blossoms. This one is purple.

For harvesting and storing, thoroughly dry flowers for culinary use. Store in air-tight containers. The petals may be candied, added to jams, flans, and fruit salads. Violets are best for Zones 5-8.

More on herbs…

Below: Greek Oregano

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This is a really hardy Greek oregano I got from Blue Moon Nursery. I find that they have the best herbs in my particular area. I have divided this plant and put it all over my gardens.

Oregano likes full sun to light shade. It likes well-drained, average and sandy soil. Once again, you can sow the seeds. For my own use, I like to pick up a pot and once it gets going, divide it.

It too is a perennial. And in my area, it pretty much grows year round.

For harvesting and storing, snip fresh sprigs as needed all summer. Cut whole plant in June and again in late August. Hang foliage in bunches to dry.

Below: Lime mint

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I love the fact that you can buy mints in many scents. This one is lime. I  have also bought chocolate (love it!), peppermint, and a variety of others.

Mint likes shade. It will take over and become invasive. But I don’t really mind, I love it so much. Who doesn’t like the smell of mint? I particularly like it near my pond. It wafts through the air and smells so nice while you’re gazing at the pond and listening to the water. But many will tell you to plant it inside its pot in the ground to keep it from spreading.

It too likes a rich, moist, well-drained soil. The book says you can put it in full sun. And in some areas, I’m sure that’s true. But I have always found that when it gets too hot, it dies back and sort of shrivels.

Cut mint frequently and severely, or the plant becomes woody after several years. Large areas can be mowed frequently, like lawns.

For harvesting and storing, harvest fresh leaves as needed. Just before blooming, cut the stalks and hang in bunches to dry. Store in air-tight containers.

Below: Parsley

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Here is parsley, a very common herb. Parsley is considered a biennial, grown as an annual.

Parsley likes full sign to partial shade. There are different varieties of parsley. It makes an attractive plant for your kitchen windowsill.

I like to keep several books on herbs around for reference. There are so many things you can do with them. From medicinal uses to sachets, potpourris to vinegars. You can make herbal pillows, soaps, bath bags, bath oils, massage oils, insect repellants, candles, and tussie-mussies (In case you don’t know, tussie-mussies are miniature herbal bouquets.) They were used to communicate long before the day of telephones, computers and such. They’re composed of herbs and flowers with different meanings that vary from region to region. Since they were held to the nose to mask offensive odors in the days of poor sanitation, they were called "nosegays."

Many make herbal wreaths. Imagine the scents greeting guests at your front door? They are also used to make dyes with natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk and wool.

You can make herb salt for your table, for instance. Below is the recipe.

Herb Salt: One cup non-iodized sea salt or kosher salt. One cup packed fresh herbs; washed, dried, and minced. (Or use 2 tablespoons dried herbs with your salt.)

Grind the salt and herbs together in a blender, or finely crumble the herbs by hand and mix them into the salt. Place the mixture in a shaker, and use it to add flavor to your meals. You can make different mixtures to accompany vegetables or meat.

If you have more freezer space than cupboard space, you may want to freeze your herbs instead of drying them. Chervil, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, parsley, and tarragon freeze very well. You’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you. 

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Responses

  1. Lovely post, Brenda (Mae);) I love culinary flowers and herbs, roses and violets are favorites. You are wise to grow violets in a pot … as much as I adore them in bloom, they are very invasive throughout my yard and gardens. Happy gardening!

  2. Very nice post! Herbs are something I’ve never grown, but they do look interesting. Especially the herb wreath. Did you know that all parts of the violet are edible. Supposedly you can use the leaves in salads and dried for teas.

  3. Hi Brenda,
    I feel like I’m in gardening class here (which I love!). My grandma had a green thumb, well two and I’m trying to learn to have one. I love herbs and didn’t know about the roses which are my favorites.

    Tell your “critters” hi from me and give them a hug!

    Happy evening!
    xo~Tracie

  4. Thanks Brenda, I am loving your herb posts. Of course, I am loving the roses too! Susan

  5. Well, have amazing about roses! And goodness, I never thought to put dried herbs right in with the salt. I’m going to go dig my violets and put them in a pot. I think I will like them a lot better that way.

    I did not get any herbs yesterday; only a few at the Home Depot nursery where I stopped, and they looked poor. I’m going to go to a certain nursery in the city. I’m excited about this! Thanks for posting all your knowledge.
    hugs,
    CurtissAnn

  6. Good Morning Brenda 🙂

    Thank you for the sweet complements!

    I had no idea Roses were in the herb family. I guess I have someone I can go to for gardening help 😉

    Rue 🙂

  7. Good info – love the roses!

  8. Well, Brenda. You have been busy! My garden needs some serious attention this weekend after all my travels. Lovely herbs and roses!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  9. your violets look so healthly, mine have become more of a ground cover, and are everywhere! which I dont mind
    Love the choc mint! any mint really.

    kim


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