Herb Gardening – Rosemary

Rosemary 4-2014

As I shared in my last gardening article Florida has taught me a whole new way of gardening. It is hard to say what my favorite herb is, but if I had to make a list rosemary would definitely be near the top. Rosemary is an herb that grows well in poor soil that likes good drainage. These are conditions that I don’t have in my yard therefore I do a lot of container gardening. Over the last three years Florida has had above average rainfall not ideal for rosemary. It is also fairly tolerant of cold weather being hardy to 20°, which made this a great herb to grow in Northern Nevada.

I found some interesting folklore and legend about rosemary. According to legend rosemary got its name from Mother Mary as she rested during her escape to Egypt she was sheltered by a rosemary bush. While resting she threw her blue cape on the bush to dry and the white flowers turned blue so the plant became known as “the rose of Mary”. Part of Greek folklore includes that a sprig of rosemary placed under a pillow will ward of evil spirits and bad dreams. It is also said that dried rosemary laid in bed will ensure faithfulness.

Since discovering that my older son was allergic to several antibiotics I began studying natural ways to keep us healthy and time and again rosemary was an herb I continued to come across. Rosemary is known to have stimulant, astringent, and diaphoretic properties. It has calcium, diterpenes (plant compounds), antioxidants (vitamin E and flavonoids) as well as caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid. All of these combine to make rosemary mildly antibiotic and antiviral. Research has been done to find many more potential benefits of including rosemary in your diet. (The Way of Herbs, and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth)

Being in the middle of allergy season my home often smells of rosemary, because of its strong aroma it is great for clearing the sinuses. Whenever a cold is coming on we add a few drops of essential oil to our bath which helps relieve congestion and cough. Due to the stimulant properties you can lift your afternoon “fog” by spraying some in the air near your desk or better yet spray it in your hair, it might stimulate hair growth. Always consult a physician or natural health practitioner before using herbs medicinally.

Rosemary can be added to many of your favorite sauces and soups, because of its distinctive flavor it is general used to enhance meat dishes. With summer quickly approaching you might want to try this chicken salad with rosemary for your next picnic.

Chicken Salad with Rosemary

3 celery ribs, 3 cups, cubed, cooked chicken, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup sour cream, and 1 tbsp, finely chopped, fresh rosemary

Thinly slice the celery and combine it in a bowl with the chicken. Blend together the mayonnaise, sour cream and rosemary then pour over the chicken and celery stirring until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Every day I am learning more about the joys of gardening and the benefits of using the things that I can grow to keep my family and I healthy and well fed. I would love to hear about your favorite herb, what do you enjoy most?

Herb Gardening – Dill

Since moving to northeastern Florida gardening has been a completely new adventure for me. All of my gardening knowledge is from the high deserts of Northern Nevada where you had to pay attention to drought tolerant plants and the growing season is definitely shorter. People in Florida are spoiled to have their own growing region (Region 10 Farmer’s Almanac) and can grow pretty much year round. Paying attention to the seed packages and Farmer’s Almanac I discovered that many herbs can be started in November and December. So in November I got out the gardening gloves and a bunch of containers and went to work.

Currently we have oregano, sage, rosemary, parsley, mint, basil, cilantro, and dill. All of the plants have done extremely well providing us an overabundance of fresh herbs to use every day. Due to the success of our herbs I want to share with my readers the health benefits as well as some delicious recipes for each of these.

Dill plant 2014

I will start with dill since my plant went absolutely crazy as you can see in the picture. Unfortunately it was in a small pot and I have since had to cut it completely back and start fresh seeds, but I have dried plenty of the aerial portions to use on fish, in salads and also sprinkled in sandwiches to add a unique delicious flavor. Due to the plant starting to flower it produced a bunch of seeds that I have dried and plan to use to make dill pickles. I found an article on The Kitchn about making dill pickles that sounds delicious and I have the right amount of dill seeds for the recipe.

Another great use for dill is to make a lemon dill compound butter which you can use on chicken, pork or beef. I also think adding it to some pasta with some vegetables would be a tasty summer dish. To make a compound butter always make sure to use unsalted butter so that you can control the salt (sodium) within your recipes.

For a lemon dill compound butter: one stick of butter (1/2 cup), the zest and juice of half a lemon, approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh dill, salt to taste. (adjust all ingredients to your own personal taste)

The health benefits of including dill in your diet include improving your appetite and digestion. You can make the feather/aerial portion of dill into a tea to help ease abdominal pains or cramps. It is also said to help with colds, flu or cough (The Way of Herbs, by Michael Tierra). If you plan to use herbs medicinally always consult with a physician or natural health practitioner.

I would enjoy hearing how my readers use fresh herbs and what is your favorite? Stay tune for my next installment of fresh herbs from my garden.

Global Warming, Hoping I make a difference.

Garden

As a stay at home mom I am either chasing my toddler around or watching PBS shows like Sesame Street, but I do try to watch the thirty minutes of national news at night just so I can keep up on current events. On Monday night there was a brief story about a UN study regarding global warming and the risks that we are facing if we don’t make changes. The interviewee mentioned that although we have had a challenging winter 2013 was the warmest on record and that this trend will continue to occur unless humans make changes. Then the news moved on to the next issues of the night.

Ski Resort

Although we have heard about global warming for years this brief story pointed out the scientific predictions of years ago with warmer temperatures and harsher storms are beginning to happen. I have watched the news a little more deliberately the last few days to see if there would be any follow up and haven’t seen anything. I guess following the conscious uncoupling of Gwyneth Paltrow or Nick Cannon using white face to promote an album are more important than the long term sustainability of our planet. Since the television news was not going to provide me with any more information I found some quiet time while my son was sleeping to search the internet and found an article with the details of the UN report.

As I read through this article I was amazed that global warming has taken such a back seat in our daily discussions. Within the report it says, “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.” It also points out that climate change will help create new pockets of poverty and “hotspots of hunger” even in richer countries, increasing inequality between rich and poor. As I sit at home watching commercials about the starving children in other countries and celebrities asking us to donate money I think about this issue of global warming and think back to the devastation in New Jersey and Oklahoma recently, yet it isn’t being talked about on a national stage and I realize things aren’t going to change in our country until these celebrities are effected on a personal level. I rarely get involved in political debates, but one thing that I do appreciate about our current first family is that they are trying to teach people about the importance of growing their own food. Unfortunately they do it with the help of a large staff and the help of tax payers which the average American doesn’t have.

On a daily basis I live my life chasing my son, gardening and trying to live a life that will help maintain the health of our planet. I know that this will help teach my son about the importance of “green” living, but I worry that unless society changes my lifestyle isn’t going to help the next generations.