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Dill- Herb of the year for 2010

The following is an excerpt from the Herb Society of America - to read the complete profile or too learn more about HSA go to www.herbsociety.org


Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)Latin Name: Anethum graveolens

Growth: annual, sometimes biennialLight: full sun

Soil: light to medium texture, welldrained

Water: overhead watering at seedling stagekeep soil moist but not saturated

Pests: aphids

Diseases: root rot

History and Origin

The plant has a long and ancient history in many countries as a culinary and medicinal herb. The earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago when the plant was referred to as a “soothing medicine.” Gladiators were fed meals covered with dill because it was hoped that the herb would grant them valor and courage. Dill seeds are often called “meetinghouse seeds” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or kids quiet. The seeds were also chewed in order to freshen the breath and quiet noisy stomachs.Anethum graveolens is believed to have its beginnings in the Mediterranean region.

Myths and Folklore

Dill was believed to provide protection from witchcraft, most likely due to it's strong smell. Charms were often made from sprigs of dill to provide protection from witchcraft; they were hung around the house or worn on the clothing. Dill was often added to love potions and aphrodisiacs to make them more eff ective. Th e herb was also believed to have an eff ect on marriages bringing happiness and good fortune. In Germany and Belgium, brides would attach a sprig of dill to their wedding gowns or they would carry it in their bouquets in the hopes that happiness would bless their marriages.

Rosemarinus Officinalis

Family: Labiatae

Description: Evergreen shrub with a woody stem.
Height 4'-6' with a 4'spread,this varies with the cultivars.
Flowers: several shades of blues,purples and even pinks.
Leaves: needle-like, shades of green from grey-green to very dark hunter.

CULTURE: Native to rocky outcroppings in the Mediterranean. These plants thrive in well drained, alkaline, rocky soil,in full sun. In our gardens they require optimal drainage and adequate air circulation. Without this air flow they will develop a mildew-like fungus that
kill them. Perennial in zone 6-9, they
require protection from harsh winter winds or wil develop some die-back.Should this occur, prune back to green growth and they will quickly recover.

HARVEST: Pick small amounts of rosemary year round to stimulate new growth. In our climate( zone6) this can't be done in winter and will resume in the spring). The first cutting should be in spring, pre-bloom. For essential production it will be during the bloom.

For normal culinary use it may be used fresh or dried. To dry rosemary, cut sprigs and hang in a dark, DRY, warm place( we use the rafters). They should dry in 4-10 days, depending on the weather. When dry strip the needles off the stems( which may be used later) and store in air tight containers.
Varieties: There are many cultivars.

Upright ones include, Arp and Hill Hardy( these are hardy to zone 5 with protection), and Salem, Albus and Tuscan Blue.

Prostrate ones include Lockwood de Forest, Huntington's carpet and Prostratus.

There are many many more varities, I have included the ones that are hardy for us here in Va. The others will not survive our damp winters and can't tolerate the cold.
History: Throughout history, Rosemary has been associated with the Virgin Mary. It has been written that she threw her cloak over a rosemary bush and it's blooms turned blue. Another story is that during the flight to Egypt the bushes sheltered the Holy family. It is also said that the bush will never grow higher than Christ stood and will only live 33 years. ( I hope mine reaches that tall and lasts that long.)

The ancients believed rosemary stood for fidelity and remembrance. Sprigs were woven into the hair of brides and fresh rosemary was added to the wine for the bridal toast. A young man could be made to fall in love with the help of a sprig of rosemary and a man indifferent to it's perfume was said to be incapable of love.
Medicinal Usage: It is believed to be one of the strongest natural antioxidents. The leaves increase circulation, reduce headaches and fight bacteria and fungal infection. French hospitals continued to use this well into the 20th century. German pharmacies sell a rosemary ointment for nerve and rheumatic pain. An extract of Rosemary in white wine is still used in Europe by those who suffer from poor cirulation.

Toxicity: use sparingly if pregnant( it could trigger an abortion). Some people develop a contact dermatitis after prolonged handling of the fresh herb.
Culinary usage: The aroma has been described as pine like and the flavor is peppery and spicy with a touch of bitterness. It is mostly used with chicken and pork dishes, but is a perfect touch for greens. Rosemary butter is an excellent garnish with potatoes or fresh vegetables form the garden. Because of it's strong flavor use sparingly , if dry, to avoid overpowering your food. For a special touch at your next barbecue, place rosemary sprigs, fresh or dry in your grill as you cook and let the flavor permeate your food. If you use fresh , lay them on your food, if you use dry stems place them in the coals.
Cosmetic Usage: found in hair rinses and shampoos, it stimulates hair growth and decreases dandruff. Use the needles in a facial steam to soothe dry skin. Place dried rosemary in a muslin tea bag and float in a warm bath to refesh you after a hard day.

1999 Herb of the year
This mediterranean herb requires well drained soil and full sun. It is prone to fungal problems and rot so air circulation is crucial. To eliminate these problems, the addition of gravel or turkey grit to the planting hole as well as a mulch of the same materials is recommended.These problems are more common in hot humid locations. Do not use an organic mulch.
Varieties: there are two basic groups.
Lavendula angustifolia- English lavender usually has a darker bloom, stronger fragrance and bloom earlier in the summer.
Lavendula latifolia- lavandins have longer stems, taller plants and larger flower heads and bloom in mid to late summer.

Tender Varieties.
Dentata- Half hardy, fragrant, lav. flowers with finely toothed green leaves.
Stoechas-French half-hardy, deep purple bracts with grey/green leaves.
Lanata- half-hardy, bright purple with white wooly leaves.

Hardy to Zone 5:
Twickle-very early bloomer, compact, soft purple with grey foliage.
Hidcote- slow growing, compact, darkest purple, most fragrant.
Munstead-early bloomer, lavender flowers, 12-18" tall, strong fragrance.
Provence-up to 30" tall,purple blooms, very long stems and grey leaves.

Greeks and Romans bathed in Lavender water( as did Napoleon). The latin word to wash, lavo, is where the name of this magnificent herb came from. Queen Victoria filled her castle with the scent of Lavender and Charles VI stuffed satin pillows with Lavender blossoms.
Consider your final usage before harvest and cut accordingly. If you need stems, cut them as long as possible at least 6" below the bloom. Make bundles and wrap in a rubber band and dry upside down in a dark, dry area. Usually in 2 weeks they will be ready to use. If you wish to make wands do so immediatley after harvest.

Making oils- an acre will yield 15-20 lbs. of oil. Cut when flower are in early bloom , remove flowers from the stem and press or distill to release the oils. Intense heat from May -August is crucial for a good quality oil.

For potpourri- cut or trim your plants and dry on a screen( to promote air circulation). When dry, usually 2 weeks, remove leaves and flowers from stems and store in an air tight container until needed. The stems may be saved, bundled and thrown into a fireplace for adding fragrance to a room.

As a room deodorizer, protect linens from moths
and as a disinfectant in sickrooms. In WWI it was used as an antispasmodic and to calm hysterics as well as soothe troubled minds. In China lavender oil is a cure-all in a medicinal oil called White Flower Oil.

Cosmetic uses:
bathing, facials, cleansers and in vinegar it is wonderful for oily skin. It also repels mosquitoes.

Culinary uses:
To flavor jellies, vinegars and as an ingredient in baking. Lavender cookies are delicious ( check the recipe page).
Following are some fun things to do with your lavender after you grow it.

1. Make bath sachets: Mix 1oz. of lavender and 1 oz. of Peppermint or Rosemary with 2 C. of Borax or Epsom salts. Place 2T of this mixture in a muslin bag and run your hot bath through this( to use this as a scrub add 2T of oatmeal to the bag.)

Scented bubble bath:
To 2C.of clear Ivory add a handful of lavender stems. Seal and let sit for 4 weeks. Strain and rebottle your soap. Use 1/4C. per bath. A wonderful easy bubble bath.

Echinacea- Herb of the year 2002
Family: Compositae

Names: E. purpurea: purple coneflower, black Sampson, rudbeckia, Missouri coneflower ; E. angustifolia, E. pallida

Description: E. purpurea: Stately plant with a striking flower with a height of 3 feet and a width of 2.5 feet, sometimes larger. The flowers are a few on each stalk, bright pink-purple, petals of 3 inches long, around a raised center disk or orange. Heads are up to 6 inches wide. The leaves are sparse, narrow, pointed, and very 6 inches long. The fruit is brown, papery seeds. The root is long, spindly, grouped together in older plants with a fleshy white inside covered by a dark skin. It blooms from July to August.

Cultivation: E. purpurea: A perennial to Zone 3. It germinates 10-20 days, best if stratified 4 weeks in the refrigerator. Plant shallow, needs sunlight to germinate. Space 1.5 to 2feet. Prefers soil temperature of 70-75F. Soil should be well drained, fairly poor, can be fairly dry with a pH of 6-8. Prefers full sun or light shade in very hot climates. Plant from seed or divide the crown on 2 year or older plants. It will bloom the first year from seed if started early. Root division is not suggested too often but young plants can be removed from the main rootstock and replanted. It takes 3-4 years to develop roots large enough for a substantial harvest.

History: Botanists named the plant after the hedgehog (Echinus) to describe its prickly, conelike center. The Plains Indians used various species for treatment of sore throats, toothaches, infections, wounds, snakebites, and skin problems as well as mumps, measles, smallpox, and cancer. When these illnesses occurred, they would suck on the root. They also applied root poultices to all manner of wounds, used Echinacea mouthwash for painful teeth and gums and drank the tea to treat ailments. Samples of Echinacea were uncovered in campsites from the 1600s, but its use probably goes back much further. Since the 1930s, over 300 scientific articles have been written about it. It was included in King’s American Dispensatory after the eclectic doctor, John King, test the herb and successfully used it to treat ee stings, chronic nasal congestion, leg ulcers and infant cholera.

Properties: anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, detoxifying, increases sweating, heals wounds, antiallergenic

Character: cool, dry, mainly pungent, bitter

Meridians/Organs affected: lungs, stomach, liver

Medicinal Uses: Echinacea root is a popular medicinal herb because it activates the body’s immune system, increasing the chance of fighting off almost any disease. It is very nontoxic. Clinical studies show that extracts improve white blood cell count and create other immune responses. Echinacin, found in Echinacea, stops bacteria from forming the hyaluronidase enzyme, which helps make cells more susceptible to infection. It is a mild natural antibiotic, 6 milligrams of one glycoside equals 1 unit of penicillin, that is effective against strep and staph infections. A study done with over 200 children found that the group who took echinacea, along with two other herbs, had fewer colds and, when they did get sick, had fewer days of fever. Similar results were observed in studies with upper respiratory tract infections and viral infections. It is obvious to researchers that echinacea contains a number of immune-stimulating constituents, although the mechanism is not fully understood. Some components are better extracted into water, others into alcohol. Small amounts taken a few times daily work better than larger doses. Echinacea is also more stimulating to immunity when taken in an on-off regime, say 2 weeks on, 1 week off.

The same chemical (HA) that helps shield tissues against germs also lubricates the joints. Arthritis breaks down HA, but echinacea’s HA-protective action may have an anti-inflammatory effect, lending credence to the herb’s traditional use in treating arthritis. German researchers have successfully treated rheumatoid arthritis with echinacea preparations.
We do not prescribe nor condone the medecinal usage of any herbs.
This is reprinted from the Herb Growers and Marketers website http://www.herbnet.com

Garlic Herb of the Year 2004

Culinary Use: One of the most popular flavoring herbs in the world, garlic is incorporated into butters, vinegars, salts, dried seasoning, salad dressings, soups and main dishes. Fresh cloves have the best flavor.
Peeling garlic is a simple task. To peel just a few cloves, place the flat side of a heavy knife
over a clove and rap your fist smartly down onto the blade. You can then easily slip off the
skin. Not to much force or the garlic clove will be smashed,you just want to break the seal of the skin. One clove of garlic will yield approximately one teaspoon minced. To mince
garlic peel the clove and then lay it on your working surface. Slice it into pieces and then
chop until you have achieved the size mince you wish.
Fresh garlic may be creamy white or have a purplish-red cast and it should be plump
and firm, with its paper-like covering intact, not spongy, soft or shriveled. Fresh garlic keeps best in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation. If it is stored in a refrigerator it will grow sprouts, since it is a fall planted crop and grows underground all winter.
Should this happen it will develop a slightly bitter taste, but is still usable.

History: Grown in the Mediterranean and central Asia, garlic was widely used as medicine for centuries. It was found in King Tut’s tomb and was eaten by the slaves who constructed the pyramids. Garlic has been used by rich and poor alike through the years to keep away disease and evil spirits. It was a main ingredient in the “Four Thieves Vinegar” used by 4 Marseilles thieves and protected them while they robbed plague victims’ bodies.
In the early 18th century, it was eaten by monks (early healers) to protect themselves from a highly contagious fever in London’s slums. Chinese prisoners in Japanese internment camps in World War II used raw Garlic to prevent any number of diseases. European doctors in World War 1 and World War II applied sterilized swabs of sphagnum moss and garlic to dress wounds and prevent gangrene.

Medicinal Uses: It stimulates metabolism, and has been used for centuries for both for chronic and acute diseases. It treats weak digestion, lung and bronchial infections and mucous conditions. Garlic cloves may be taken internally both as a preventative and as a treatment for all intestinal worms. A single dose is three to five cloves in infusion or taken raw. This is repeated three to six times a day until the problem is resolved. Garlic is also good for amoebic dysentery.
It is an effective antibiotic for staphylococcus, streptococcus and salmonella bacteria and is effective against bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotic drugs.
Studies of have shown it to be effective as a chelating agent for removal of lead from the blood of workers exposed to high levels of heavy metals. Subjects who ate garlic for six months found that their “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels went down, while their “good” HDL cholesterol levels increased. Garlic also helps normalize systolic blood pressure levels even more effectively than high blood pressure medicine. The immune system is activated by garlic. Fresh garlic provides the most medicinal benefits however there are now several capsules which have been able to capture the benefits- with no odor.
Uses in the garden: Research shows that garlic sprays kill cabbage white and ermine moth, onion fly larvae, mole crickets, pea weevils and field slugs and deter aphids and Japanese beetles.

Bug Formula: 3 oz garlic, chopped, 2 tsp mineral oil, 1 pint water, 1 oz oil-based hand
soap, water to dilute Soak garlic in oil for 1 week. Then dissolve soap into water and mix in the garlic oil. Strain out garlic. When ready to use, dilute 1 part in 20 parts water and spray on plants. The soap can be replaced with ½ oz of liquid all-purpose, bio-degradable soap.
For a complete Garlic Growing Guide email us at garlic@beagleridgeherbfarm.com
Be sure to check out the Garlic page for further information

Scented Geranium Herb of the Year 2006

History: These geraniums are grown for the scent of their leaves as opposed to their flowers. Native to South Africa, they were first grown in Europe in the early 1600s. And by the late 1800s there were over 150 varieties described in American catalogs. In their native habitat and parts of the south, these geraniums are perennials. In most of this country, they are treated as annuals or tender perennials. They have a large range of scents, colors, texture of leaves and sizes. The scents can range from rose, pine, mint, fruity and spicy and one of my favorites peppermint. Flowers are small and are a wide range of colors- they are grown for their foliage- not the flowers.

Historically they were used to convey meaning as shown below.
Language of Flowers
Almond – present preference
Apricot – Loyalty
Filbert – mystery
Coconut – Joy
Gooseberry - Trustworthiness
Silver leaf—recall
Lemon—tranquility of mind; unexpected meeting, good tidings
Lemon Rose – Bittersweet remembrance
Nutmeg: an expected meeting
Oak Leaf—true friendship; “Lady, deign to smile”
Peppermint—cordial feelings, good health
Rose—preference, love
Southernwood – lasting affection
Strawberry - gladness

Cultivation: Scented geraniums are well suited for growing in containers since they are tender perennials, but can also be planted in the ground. They thrive in a sunny location in evenly moist soil. Propagation is easy through rooted cuttings. Cut “slips” 3 to 5 inches long with a very sharp knife or pruners, sterilized with alcohol. The best cuttings are from a stem that “snaps.” Cut below an node at an angle and remove lower leaves, and any flowers. Lay the cuttings out for 24 hours to “callus.” This stimulates the growth of new cells on the wound. Placing cuttings in a frost-free refrigerator for 12-to 36 hours assures good callusing. It is not necessary to use a rooting hormone on geraniums. However, if you are going to root them in sand or soil, the fungicide contained in rooting compound may prove helpful. Stick the callused cuttings upright into the soil medium. Put this in a warm place in filtered light. In two weeks or so the cuttings will develop roots.
Medicinal Uses: As a medicinal plant, geranium has traditionally been considered an astringent and used as a folk remedy in the treatment of ulcers. Leaves are reported to have antifungal activity.

Cosmetic Uses:
Vinegar for the bath: 2 oz rosemary, 2 oz rose petals, 2 oz lavender, 2 oz mint, 2 oz rose
geranium leaves, 6 cups white vinegar, 1 cup rose water. Mix herbs and flowers together; add vinegar. Bottle and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Strain through a fine cheesecloth to remove any of the residue and rebottle. Add a few fresh herb mint and rosemary sprigs and the rose water.

Scented Geranium Face Cream:
1 cup sweet almond oil
¼ cup lanolin
1 cup lemon- or rose-scented geranium leaves Place the sweet almond oil and lanolin in the
saucepan and heat gently, stirring. Add the leaves, stir, and steep for 30 minutes, over very low heat. Remove the leaves, pour into a jar and refrigerate- since no preservative has been used. This is very soothing to dry skin.