The GIANT Book on Growing and Using Herbs
The moment you hear the word “Herb” you visualize a soft stemmed plant, which is normally used in cookery, as well as in alternative medicine. These herbs used for millenniums have been an important part of our social traditional and religious fabrics all over the world. No one, without an interest in nature is not going to know more about Rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, hyssop, basil, and other herbs put into use down the centuries.
The awareness of the medical as well as the edible qualities of herbs, was naturally gained in prehistoric days by happy and sad experience. When food was nasty tasting or scarce, the pungent herbs made it more delicious and acceptable to eat. Leafy herbs provided vegetables and salads. Soon people began to find out that some herbs would also heal wounds and ease suffering. So that means that even the herbs that we supposedly used for culinary purposes could be used for healing purposes.
In 460 B.C. Greeks were writing about the curative powers of plants. In the East, these herbs were used in alternative medicine, through medical books and compendiums written more than 5000 years ago. In Europe, all medical treatment based on herbs was done, thanks to a book written by Dioscorides in A.D. 60.
In ancient Europe, The Greeks, Egyptians and the Romans could not do without their herbs. Culinary delights, especially the blending of sauces, which were made of flowers, herbs, spices and wines were possibly started in a Greek country named Sybaris , from where we get the term “sybarite” , or a person who enjoys pleasure. They were the people who made sleeping on rose petals, a fashion.
How to Lay Out a Herbal Garden
Measure your space first. Make a pan of what you need in your garden. This is going to help you visualize your garden in relation to your house. Do not make a very complex plan, by introducing a large number of features, just because you want ornate ornamentation. Generally speaking, the center of your garden should remain spacious and uncluttered.
However, if your area is enclosed by a fence or by high walls, it is much better sense to make the plant beds towards the center. You can raise them about 1 ½ feet above the general level so that they can receive lots of sunshine. That is, if you are growing your plants in an area which is surrounded by trees, and with buildings, which prevents sunshine from soaking through the soil of your garden.
Note down the positions of the doors in relation to the garden wall, so that you can incorporate them aesthetically in your plan and layout. If there are other natural features already present, such as trees, or even a group of flowering bushes or a possible difference in levels, all of these features can be incorporated into your plan and give you scope for interesting landscaping treatment of your gardening land.
Grass is always desirable in a garden, but it is difficult to grow, if the place is shady and confined. However, if your site is open, you may want to add a little bit of a lawn, surrounded by herbaceous shrubs and plants.
Thinking of Layout Plans
As long as you have the space, it is very easy to accommodate a number of culinary herbs and medicinal herbs outdoors. A tiny garden is going to have a small herbal border. You can use low growing plants here. Ornamental flowers like fennel can be used to enhance flower borders and flower beds. You can also place herbs admirably alongside large flowering plants, to make a pleasant contrast.
Try planting lovage , which is massive, as a herbal border behind delphiniums . Rue And hyssop are small bushes. You can complement lilies, roses, and even phlox with these shrubs along with Rosemary and Sage.
Have you had a Green Bay tree flourishing in your garden? A number of expensive restaurants have this elegant plant growing in a tub placed partly in the shade, and allowed to develop naturally.
These gardens are easy to make if the Paths are marked out and the topsoil is removed from them and placed in the areas where you are going to plant your plants. That is how you are going to get ample and good topsoil for your plants. That also means that the paths are going to be sunken, with plants to your left and right.
The beds have to be supported by low walls of stone or even old bricks so that means sometimes which are creeping plants can get an opportunity to grow into the crevices and spread their creepers.
Culinary and Beauty Uses of Herbs
Apart from their medicinal value, herbs have been much in demand for culinary purposes, as said before. Here is some interesting information on the use of herbs in medieval times in Europe. In 1699, a herbalist spoke about the yellow petals of Marigold flowers which were dried and kept throughout “Dutch land” to be put into physical potions, broths and for diverse other purposes “in such quantity that in some grocers or spice sellers are to be found barrels filled with them. These are detailed by the penny or less insomuch that no broths or foods are well-made without dried Marigold”
Marigold water was used in Tudor times, to keep your skin fresh and glowing. All you have to do to follow this time-tested recipes boil some Marigold flowers in water, until the water is golden yellow. Use the petals in your shower. Filter the water, and apply it liberally on your skin, to keep it healthy, antiseptic, clean, and glowing.
This Marigold water was also used to tint the hair, especially in Elizabethan times! This species is called Pot Marigold.
Herbal Wines have been very much invoked, down the centuries, especially when you make them from elderflowers, parsley, rose petals and rose hips. There are a number of books which can teach you how to make wines at home, especially when you understand the principles and have the time and the inclination to experiment with this fascinating and ancient activity.
The Power of Herbs
Perfumes, juices, oils and other products extracted from seeds, leaves, shoots, and bark of the herbs have been used since the earliest times in religious ceremonies, and in cooking. Magicians used them in making mysterious potions to impress the credulous public.
Herb essential oils along with parts of herbs have long been in use down the millenniums to make natural beauty products.
The oracles of Delphi were women who had been “intoxicated” on fumes of deadly nightshade, which would make them hallucinate. And then with bay leaves in their mouths-these leaves were considered sacred to Apollo – they used to predict the future. No wonder not many could understand them or interpret their sayings. So each hearer chose the one which suited his requirements the best, and believed the Gods had spoken.
The part of the plant which grows above the ground, and includes leaves, stem, stock, flowers, seeds, etc. is known as the Herb. It is going to be ready to harvest when the plant has flowered. Cut it off at ground level with a really sharp knife. Choose only healthy and clean plants, before harvesting.
Clean the plants properly, to get rid of any dust or possible pesticides. If you have been using chemical pesticides, they have to be washed off thoroughly, so that they do not remain then you are drying out the Herb.
One hopes that this book has given you plenty of knowledge about interesting and beneficial plants, which can be grown in your garden. Remember, all these herbs have been used for centuries to benefit mankind. So take full advantage of them, live long and prosper.