The Houston Farmer’s Market

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The usual trip to the grocery store can seem such a chore, week after week. We follow a list of reminders dutifully buying food for our families. If you are new to Houston or simply haven’t been in awhile, a visit to Canino’s, Houston’s leading farmer’s market for over 50 years, is a splendid way to enjoy the bounty of spring. Located right in the heart of Houston at 2520 Airline Drive and open daily from 6 am to 8 pm.The store and it’s numerous back stalls are a voyage across time to a place of community, seasonal harvest, curiosity, and imagination.

Why You should visit the Houston Farmer’s Market Now!

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The assortment of locally grown Texas products are abundant, from fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to nuts, honey, jams and jellies. There is no refrigeration, so produce is fresh, ripe and colorful. The sweet delectable scent of fruits, permeate the fresh outdoor air.

Upon arrival crimson colored strawberries burst forth from their boxes next to fresh deep icy pink Texas watermelon. The bins overflow with fragrant honey tangerines, citrus of all varieties, colorful chilies fresh and dried next to magnificent purple onions and beets. The verdant leafy greens like cilantro, basil, lettuce and kale, stand like a forest throughout the many stalls. Chayote, prickly pear fruit, and cactus delight our curiosity begging for a wonderful creation. Ladies slice mangos, pineapple, oranges and coconut to wet the palate while walking the kaleidoscope of stalls. There is no duty to fulfill, just let your imagination soar with fresh epicurean possibilities.

Don’t forget to bring spring home with the plentiful variety of potted plants, vegetables, herbs, flowers and roses.

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Helpful Tips :

Caninos’ Market accepts all forms of payment

The individually owned back stalls deal in cash

Take your own shopping bags

Calendula

Calendula- Calendula officinalis, also known as Pot Marigold

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Calendula is Latin for “little calendar or little clock” referring to the flowers tendency to open in the morning and follow the movements of the sun

Marigold is referring to The Virgin Mary

A member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower family

Asteraceae or Compositae refers to one of the largest family of angiosperms including asters, daisies and sunflowers. The main feature being the daisy like flower head known scientifically as a composite flower, thus the genus name Compositae. Aster is Greek for “star” and refers to the unique characteristics of the composite flower head, a capitulum of many tightly packed flowers. The capitula can range from small clusters to hundreds or thousands of flowers grouped together to form a single flower like structure made of florets, the disk flower and the peripheral ray petals. A sunflower is a great example of a composite flower, from afar it appears as one giant flower, however, closer inspection reveals many hundreds of smaller florets. The floret generally consists of 5 petals and stamens fused to form a corolla tube. Pollen is released inside the tube. Pollination occurs by insects or entomophily.

Asteraceae contains more than 20,000 accepted species of herbaceous plants including annuals, perennials and some trees, shrubs and climbers inhabiting most everywhere on Earth except extreme Artic and Antarctic conditions. The leaves can be alternate, opposite or whorled and the margins lobed or toothed. The most distinguishing feature is the composite flower head.

Calendula is also a genus of plants containing about 15-20 species of annual and perennial herbs. The plants of the genus are native to Southwestern Asia, the Mediterranean and Southern and Western Europe. It is believed Calendula officinalis or Pot Marigold is native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The plant is an annual or biennial (in mild winters) and is cultivated from seed. The sunny bright orange and yellow thick double blossom daisy like flowers are a prominent feature along with its pungent scent. The flowers are heliotropic or follow the sun’s movements through the sky. Petals open in the morning and close in the afternoon. Marigolds prefer a sunny location, grow in most soils and tolerate drought. The plant will blossom spring through frost and in mild climates throughout the winter. The height reaches 2 feet high by 18 inches wide. The leaves are a grayish green and elongated growing on a stalk. Fine almost invisible hairs lend a slight texture. The straw like flowers and the leaves both have an aromatic flavor. Marigold is easy to grow and can be found in many home gardens. The Early Settlers to America brought the plants and the sunny flowers can be found in fields, meadows and along roadsides. Flowers should be harvested on a sunny day after dew has dried. Lay flowers in thin layers in a shaded area. To encourage more flowers, harvest regularly. The leaves are harvested before the plant blooms. Leave a few flowers to save the knobby seeds and sow the following season. Marigolds are heavy feeders and will rob essential nutrients from nearby plants. Be sure to fertilize and amend the garden soil before and after planting the cheerful sunny flowers.

Related species:

French Marigold, Tagetes patula, T. lucida, T. tenuifolia, is popular in the garden as an insect repellent but does not have the same herbal, medicinal or culinary properties.

Parts used: fresh young leaves, fresh or dried flower heads and petals.

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*Cautions- not all flowers with the common name Marigold are Calendula officinalis. Please investigate, educate and read labels. When in doubt ask a qualified professional, who understands the intended use.

Culinary Arts: Calendula or Pot Marigold petals are considered to be the poor man’s saffron. Pot Marigold owes its namesake to the flowers use in stew pots. The petals impart a nice golden color to rice, soups, eggs, butters, cheeses and oil infusions. The petals lend a mild bitter taste that mixes well with other flavors in a dish. Cooking with Marigold petals was popular in England and Europe during the Middle Ages, especially in winter when the cheery dried flower petals could brighten a dark winter’s dish. The young leaves are used in salads for a spicy aromatic zest.

Garden Lore: Calendula and other Marigold varieties frequent many a garden, from the most experienced botanist to the novice homeowner. Marigolds are very easy to grow. The flowers are heliotropic or follow the movements of the sun. Thus, Calendulas and Marigolds are a solar plant. The name Calendula is from Latin “calendae” meaning “little calendar” or “little clock,” referring to the flowers opening in the morning and closing in the evening. Marigolds symbolize fire, the sun and are considered a masculine plant. Flowers are best picked at noon, when the sun is strongest and hottest. If a Marigold flower has not opened by 9 or 10 in the morning, ancient wisdom predicts there will certainly be rain that day (Arrowsmith, 180). Marigolds help deter destructive nemotodes in the garden soil and are a good companion plant for tomatoes. The pungent aromatic smell of the flowers, also help confuse other insect pests. The name “Marigold” references the Virgin Mary and the flowers are used in the many Catholic ceremonies around the world. Marigolds grown in the garden or garlands strung above the door are believed to stop evil from entering the house. The flowers picked during a Virgo moon are used in love potions and spells. In The Language of Flowers, Marigold is a symbol for grief and despair. Possibly to the poet, the bright cheerful flowers are a reminder of “sunnier” days and lost love. When combined with roses, the combination suggests “the bittersweet and pleasant pains of love,” (Harvey, 50). And my favorite superstition, A girl who touches the petals of marigold with her bare feet will understand the language of birds, (Cunningham, 149).

Herbal Arts: Calendula officinalis is best known for it’s cosmetic use. However, the sunny flower also makes a pleasant herbal tea. The tea is used to stimulate the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and helps relieve digestive inflammation. *Do not take for more than a couple of weeks at a time due to the cumulative nature or build up in the body systems. **The herbal tisane may also increase sedative effects of medication for anxiety and insomnia (Balch, 40). Calendula is mildly antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which is why so many herbal soaps, lotions, creams and salves include this healing herb. The plant is believed to increase collagen production and is regenerative to damaged skin tissue as a compress or salve. As an unguent, long-term use is suitable for healing dry or damaged skin, and wrinkles. According to certified nutritionist Phyllis A. Balch, research has revealed Calendula washes kill staphylococcus aureus, a common germ that infects abrasion, burns and cuts. The fresh flowers or a tincture applied to cuts or wounds and rubbed on insect stings can alleviate pain and inflammation.

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A healing Calendula oil is easy to make at home.

First, fill a sterilized glass jar full of dried calendula flowers.

Next, pour any vegetable oil suitable for cosmetic use until flowers are fully submerged.

Then, replace lid and store the flowery jar away from light and heat for up to 6 weeks.

Finally, decant oil into a clean jar, compost flowers.

Cautions: Not all flowers with the common name Marigold are Calendula officinalis. Please investigate, educate and read labels. When in doubt ask a qualified professional, who understands the intended use.

*Do not take the herbal tea for more than a couple of weeks at a time due to the cumulative nature or build up in the body systems.

**The herbal tisane may also increase sedative effects of medication for anxiety and insomnia.

 

*The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is provided for your reading and gardening pleasure.

 

References

Arrowsmith, Nancy. 2007. Essential herbal wisdom: A complete exploration of 50 remarkable herbs. Herbarium Magicum, Germany: Allgeria.

Balch, Phyllis. 2002. Prescription for herbal healing. Penguin Putnam: NY.

Bremness, Lesley. 1988. The complete book of herbs: A practical guide to growing and using herbs. Penguin Studio: NY.

Capon, B.  2005. Botany for gardeners. Timber Press: OR.

Chevallier, Andrew. 1996. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. DK Publishing:NY.

Cunningham, Scott. 1990. Encyclopedia of magic herbs. Llewellyn Publications: MN.

Harvey, Gail. 1995. The language of flowers. Gramercy Books, NJ.

Hoffman, David. 1990. Holistic herbal: a safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies. Harper Collins Publishers: London.

Houdret, Jessica. 2010. An illustrative encyclopedia of herbs. Anness Publishing: London.

Wikipedia.com/Asteracea

 

 

 

 

The Arrival of Spring

Warmer days and cooler nights, Spring is here.

After a long cold rainy winter, the sun’s brilliant glow warms our hearts in anticipation of wildflowers, sowing seeds, and dirt stained hands. The bulbs of Autumn are in vigorous full bloom from winter’s icy hand. Let there be sun, Spring is here.

In the temperate Gulf Coast climate, the over winter crops are lush and exploding with hope. Hope for the many fruits and vegetables soon to ripen. The following is a list of my top 5 most anticipated arrivals. Some are only a season long, while others are a few years old bearing their first crops.

The Globe Artichoke

1. The Globe Artichoke, Cynara scolymus, is a cool season crop bearing fruit in 150-180 days. The perennial Artichoke or Cardoon (wild or uncultivated) is a variety of thistle, native to the Mediterranean region. The globe artichoke is the most anticipated crop in the garden. There are 3 flourishing plants that will bear many fruit stalks, up to 5 feet tall per plant. Although they are edible and some will be eaten, leaving a few to ripen will yield glorious thistle-like purplish flowers. Many say it is a sight to be seen. Lucky for the neighbors, these fabulous plants border the sidewalk for all to see.

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2. The Peach Tree, Prunus persica, is a deciduous tree native to China. On average, a peach tree may take 3-5 years to bear fruit. A friend whose grandfather has a homestead farm in El Campo, Texas, gave my peach tree to me. Her family has been living in Texas since the Republic of Texas. The grandfather passed away last May and this is the first year the tree will bear fruit. I only planted the tiny tree last year after torturing it in a pot for the previous 2 years. After planting in the Earth, the tree grew faster than any plant in my garden. In fall, I had to prune it heavily as it was growing into the neighbor’s yard and power lines. Luckily, heavy pruning is what helps peaches, plums and other stone fruit produce. This year I hope to harvest enough peaches to make a cobbler or pie. Yum!

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3. The Wildflower Garden, Bluebonnet, Cornflower, Indian Blanket, Cosmos, Poppies, Mallows, Coreopsis, Wine cup, Coneflower, Sunflower and so many more! The time to plant wildflowers is in the Fall through January. For many months there is only greenery. Boring and exciting at the same time, so many seeds sown yet which will the winter bear. Previous years have given the standard hearty Coreopsis, Cosmos and Verbena. These tolerate drought and that is what we had in 2011, 12 and 13. But 2014 brings much rain and an abundance of weeds. A strong year for weeds equals an excellent year for wildflowers. Wildflowers and weeds are really the same; some are just preferred more than the other. Be careful with those anti-weed chemicals for your lawn, you may just be killing off some important wildflowers and herbs.

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4. The Lemon Trees, Citrus “Meyers” and “Eureka”, the first a China hybrid and not a true lemon. The second a true lemon from Italian seed stock brought to California. Both are delicious but I have not sampled the fruit from my own trees. The Meyers lemon was the first tree my family planted. What an exciting moment to plant the very first tree upon your own property. The time was spring and the sun was bright. By November, the tiny tree spent almost four months in the shadow of the house. No sun equals no fruit. This is the fourth year and the tree has grown and reached for the winter sun for spring bloom. The back yard smells lovely with the profuse display of flowers. The bees are happy.

The Eureka lemon, our second citrus child, was fortunate to have gardeners that knew better about placement. Just a little variegated baby given to me free by a nursery in Fall of 2012. We placed it in a large pot in a sunny location and only a year and a half later, Eureka tripled in size with blooms and fruit. Oh how I look forward to marinades and lemonade.

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5. The Grape Vines, Genus- Vitis vinifera x aestivalis, “Black Spanish”  & “Blanc DuBois” vines are growing rapidly along the fence. As a lover of history and antiquity, the study of plants dispenses the wisdom of genetics, archaeology, and cultural traditions. Yes, all this from grapes growing on my fence. How one might ask? History reveals itself in the scientific names ‘vinifera’ and ‘aestivalis.’ The first, ‘vinifera’, are the grape varieties from Europe and Southwestern Asia, where 6000 years ago the first vessels of wine are found. The second variety, ‘aestivalis’ is native to North America and primarily used by Native Americans for it’s edible fruit and juice. The cross pollination of the two varieties by European colonists lead to new cultivars. The Black Spanish and Blanc DuBois vines growing in my garden are for fruit, jam, juice and wine. This is the third year and should be the year to bear fruit. A common saying for grape vines is, “The first year, they sleep. The second year, they creep. The third year, they leap!” After the educated pruning I performed in February, the vines are bursting forth. I am intoxicated by all of Spring’s  possibilities already.

Chamomile

Chamomile- Chamomilla recutita or  Matricaria chamomilla (an annual)

Chamaemelum nobile (a perennial)

Chamomile is Greek for ” ground apple” due to the apple like scent

 

chamomile True Chamomile- Chamomilla recutita

A member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower family

Asteraceae or Compositae refers to one of the largest family of angiosperms including asters, daisies and sunflowers. The main feature being the daisy like flower head known scientifically as a composite flower, thus the genus name Compositae. Aster is Greek for “star” and refers to the unique characteristics of the composite flower head, a capitulum of many tightly packed flowers. The capitula can range from small clusters to hundreds or thousands of flowers grouped together to form a single flower like structure made of florets, the disk flower and the peripheral ray petals. A sunflower is a great example of a composite flower, from afar it appears as one giant flower, however, closer inspection reveals many hundreds of smaller florets. The floret generally consists of 5 petals and stamens fused to form a corolla tube. Pollen is released inside the tube. Pollination occurs by insects or entomophily.

Asteraceae contains more than 20,000 accepted species of herbaceous plants including annuals, perennials and some trees, shrubs and climbers inhabiting most everywhere on Earth except extreme Artic and Antarctic conditions. The leaves can be alternate, opposite or whorled and the margins lobed or toothed. The most distinguishing feature is the composite flower head.

Chamomile is the common name for 2 slightly different plants, German chamomile or true chamomile and Roman chamomile, the perennial plant. German chamomile, Chamomilla recutita, is native to the Near East and Eastern Europe. It now grows wild and cultivated throughout Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. The highest commercial production is from Eastern Europe and India. True Chamomile flowers are petite, hollow with raised yellow centers and downward turned white petals. A pleasant “apple like” scent differentiates true chamomile from the many similar plants. The annual herb has an upright growing habit with feathery, light green bitter tasting foliage. Flowers open from May to September and can be harvested as they appear on dry sunny days. Tiny seeds develop in the centers of flowers and will reseed in the garden bed. Seeds are also gathered to sow in the spring after danger of frost. The herb enjoys dry sandy soils but will do well in most garden soils with ample water. When drying the delicate flowers beware of mold and store in very dry airtight containers.

Roman chamomile, also known as, English chamomile is a low growing perennial with grey green threadlike foliage covering the entire plant. A well-developed rootstock propagates new plants through runners. The white flowers can be single or double with wider petals and smaller centers than German chamomile. The scent resembles vanilla. Roman chamomile will blossom in summer to fall. The perennial herb also prefers dry sandy soils and will spread quickly. Divide the roots for new plants.

related species:

Moroccan Chamomile, Oremenis multicaulis (mixta)- a member of the tansy family and not a true chamomile. Used mostly in perfume and aromatherapy

Wild Chamomile, Matricaria discoidea,- similar in appearance but different in medicinal value than true chamomile. Also known as pineapple weed and native to North America

Parts Used: dried flower heads

*Cautions- Harvesting chamomile in the wild is not recommended due to the similarities in appearance of other plants and herbs with differing medicinal values and possible harmful properties. Chamomile for teas and infusions should be cultivated from reliable seeds or dry herb from reputable sources.

** Do not use if you have ragweed pollen allergies, may affect sensitive individuals

 Culinary Arts: Chamomile is generally not used in cooking. However, the herb has been used as a digestive aide since ancient times. The tea or tisane has a bitter taste but a soothing effect on the digestion and is often included in digestive aperitifs or bitters. Bitters are known to stimulate saliva and digestive juices. Chamomile is also known as an antispasmodic, helping to ease muscle cramps and spasms. During the Middle Ages, chamomile beers, wines and liquors were popular and are now becoming more fashionable for today’s microbreweries and distilleries.

Garden Lore: In the garden, German Chamomile will aide the growth of other plants, such as onions, cabbages, mint and other herbs. Once the plant begins to flower it may rob the soil of nutrients. This is why German Chamomile makes an excellent compost plant, as it is high in calcium and other nutrients.

Roman Chamomile can become a nuisance by taking over a garden area. Yet, when placed among a stone path to freely spread, footsteps will yield a pleasant fragrance.

Herbal Arts: There is an abundance of medical research available for German and Roman chamomile. The following is a brief overview to encourage further investigation into the remarkable healing powers of the delicate flower.

Chamomile is most commonly used internally as a tea or tincture to calm and aide sleep and digestion. Externally, the herb is included in creams, salves, and compresses to aide in healing wounds and inflamed skin conditions due to the chamazulene content. The herb is considered a nerve tonic. Tonics are used to strengthen and/or tone. Chamomile is high in calcium, magnesium and some B vitamins, which nourish the nerve tissues. The essential oil of German Chamomile is blue due to it’s high content of chamazulene (“azul” meaning “blue”) and is anti-inflammatory. Ancient Egyptians infused the flowers in oil to massage into sore muscles. The scent is calming and uplifting. In Folk Lore, sprinkle chamomile flowers around your property to protect against curses and spells. It is also carried to attract money and when added to the bath may attract love. The tea is also used as a hair rinse, to lighten blonde highlights. In the Language of Flowers, the dainty flower symbolizes “energy in adversity.” How fitting for an herb with a powerful calming action.

Cautions: Harvesting chamomile in the wild is not recommended due to the similarities in appearance of other plants and herbs with differing medicinal values and possible harmful properties. Chamomile for teas and infusions should be cultivated from reliable seeds or dry herb from reputable sources.

** Do not use if you have ragweed pollen allergies, may affect sensitive individuals

*The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is provided for your reading and gardening pleasure.

 References

Arrowsmith, Nancy. 2007. Essential herbal wisdom: A complete exploration of 50 remarkable herbs. Herbarium Magicum, Germany: Allgeria.

Balch, Phyllis. 2002. Prescription for herbal healing. Penguin Putnam: NY.

Bremness, Lesley. 1988. The complete book of herbs: A practical guide to growing and using herbs. Penguin Studio: NY.

Capon, B.  2005. Botany for gardeners. Timber Press: OR.

Chevallier, Andrew. 1996. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. DK Publishing:NY.

Cunningham, Scott. 1990. Encyclopedia of magic herbs. Llewellyn Publications: MN.

Gladstar, R. 2010. The science and art of herbology: Home study course. Sage Mountain:VT.

Harvey, Gail. 1995. The language of flowers. Gramercy Books, NJ.

Houdret, Jessica. 2010. An illustrative encyclopedia of herbs. Anness Publishing: London.

Keville, Kathi & Green Mindy. 2009. Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press: CA.

Miller, B. & L. 1995. Ayuveda & Aromatherapy: The earth essential guide to ancient wisdom and modern healing. Lotus Press: WI.

Wikipedia.com/Asteracea

Lemongrass

Lemongrass- Cymbopogon citratus

lemongrass picphotograph by silhouetteartpress

Greek for “kymbe”-boat and “pogon”-beard, likely referring to the flower spike

A member of the Poaceae (syn- Gramineae) or true grasses

Poaceae or Gramineae refers to the family of grasses, the fifth largest plant family. There are nearly 11,000 species of domesticated and wild grasses. Nearly 20 percent of the Earth is covered in grasslands and can be found in tropical wetlands, forests, plains and as far north as the tundra. Grasses have hollow stems, like bamboo, and the leaves are alternate with parallel veins growing from the base. This allows herbivores and lawnmowers to cut leaf tips and the plants will continue to grow. As an angiosperm, flowers are arranged in spikelets like wheat and rye. The fruit is encapsulated in the seed (caryopsis). Pollination occurs through wind or anemophilous.

Lemongrass is native to India, Southeast Asia and is currently cultivated in tropical and subtropical zones worldwide. As a semi hardy perennial, this grassy plant requires fertile well-drained soil in a sunny location but cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. The lemon scented grass can grow to a height and width of 4 to 5 feet with narrow leaf blades and branched stalks of flowers. Commercially, lemongrass is grown in rows as a culinary spice, medicinal tea and as a top selling essential oil.  The volatile citral oil is enclosed in leaf blade cells and is used for flavoring and as a scent for the fragrance industry. The white stem base can be chopped as a culinary herb for a variety of ethnic cuisines. Throughout the year, harvest by cutting leaves at the base and use fresh or dried. Propagate by dividing a clump from the base of the plant, then move to a container, especially when temperatures dip below freezing. Lemongrass is a lovely textural addition to any landscape or kitchen garden.

Related Species

Cymbopogon martini, more commonly known as Palmarosa, is a species of grass native to Southeast Asia with a lemon and rose type scent. The rose like smell is due to the active compound geraniol. Palmarosa is cultivated commercially throughout tropical zones for it’s aromatic qualities, which varies by region.

Cymbopogon nardus & winterianus are species of grasses native to Indonesia. The long green cane like leaves grow up to 7 feet tall. The plant is inedible but is cultivated for citronella essential oil. The oil is a popular mosquito repellent.

Parts Used: leaves, stalk/stem base, as an essential oil

*Cautions: Lemongrass may irritate sensitive skin.

*Do not take any Cymbopogon species essential oils internally without professional supervision.

 lemongrass stalk

Lemongrass stalk with new leaf growth after propagation

Culinary Arts: Lemongrass is most commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, specifically in Thai and Vietnamese kitchens. The clean robust citrus flavor is used in Asian spice blends, pastes, soups, curries and stir fry. Elsewhere the lemony flavored grass leaves are used for tea. The fresh stalk and leaves will deliver a better flavor when bruised or chopped. Although dried or powdered spice is common, the fresh herb offers a more intense flavor. Fresh stalks can be preserved in vinegar for more flavor than the dried herb. Use stalks as stirrers to add a lemon flavor to drinks.

Garden Lore: Lemongrass is associated with the planet Mercury and the element air. In folklore, the herbs of Mercury are used for communication and knowledge. Lemongrass can be harvested throughout the year, especially before frost. Ancient wisdom suggests planting lemongrass around the home to repel snakes.

Herbal Arts: Since ancient times, Lemongrass has been used medicinally to fight infections and to aid digestion. The scent was commonly used as an insect repellant. Modern Aromatherapy suggests the fragrance to be soothing and to help with stress and exhaustion. The essential oil compound citral has been found to be antibacterial and antifungal. As a top selling essential oil, more than fifteen hundred tons a year is produced and added to commercial soaps, deodorants and cleaning products (Keville, 197). The baths of ancient Rome were scented with lemongrass. The essential has been suggested for oily skin and skin infections due to its antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties, but do not use directly on the skin, as it can be an irritant. Dr. Bharat B. Aggrawal in his book, Healing Spices, reveals modern scientific research that suggests lemongrass may help prevent anxiety, cholestorol and “block the first stage of cancer cell division” (p.153-154). Lemongrass may not necessarily be a cure all, but a bit of the herb added to cooking and teas may give your life a little more spice. Enjoy the popular herb in both garden and kitchen.

Cautions: Lemongrass may irritate sensitive skin. Do not take any Cymbopogon species’ essential oils internally without professional supervision

*The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is provided for your reading and gardening pleasure.

References

Aggarwal, B. & Yost, D. 2011. Healing Spices. Sterling: NY.

Capon, B.  2005. Botany for gardeners. Timber Press: OR.

Chevallier, Andrew. 1996. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. DK Publishing: NY.

Cunningham, Scott. 1990. Encyclopedia of magic herbs. Llewellyn Publications: MN.

Grieves, M. 1994. A modern herbal. Dorset Press: London.

Houdret, Jessica. 2010. An illustrative encyclopedia of herbs. Anness Publishing: London.

Keville, Kathi & Green Mindy. 2009. Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press: CA.

Miller, B. & L. 1995. Ayuveda & Aromatherapy: The earth essential guide to ancient wisdom and modern healing. Lotus Press: WI. 

Rose Envy

How to Care for Roses

 

My grandfather grew gorgeous roses of  all colors for my grandmother Margie Francis. When I was young the fragrant blooms stood higher than I could reach. My grandfather had to pull the wondrous blossoms from the sky for me to catch their intoxicating scent. A person can lose their self in the aroma of a rose. I promised myself then and there to one day have my very own rose garden.

It started innocently enough with one rose bush, a double knock out easy to grow crimson and carmine unscented bloom. Everyone warns of the laboriousness of successful rose cultivation. A warning filed away for later analysis. Leap then look has always been my motto.

I did not read any books, ask advice or consult the Internet. I simply dug out a space along the neighbor’s chain link fence, knowing air circulation was necessary from the repeated black spot and mold warnings, plenty of sun from 11:00 am until 5:00pm and in the roses went one by one. It has been over a year and many special varieties are now flourishing. My personal favorites are Pope John Paul the II, glorious snow white with a heavenly scent and the dainty tea rose with tiny bursts of cologne.

The success can be described simply, Ignore them. Roses do not like much water. A discovery found when I was too busy to tend the garden and the roses began rising to the blue summer sky. Infrequently water roses at the base, DO NOT SPRAY the plants with water. Water on the leaves breeds fungus and black spot. Black spot and fungus leaves remove and throw away in the trash. Also dead heading spent blooms will encourage new flowers.  On or around February 14th, the day of love and roses, prune. Cut the branches to increase air circulation, especially at the base of each plant.

This fall I will let the spent blooms last until they turn to rosehips- a power packed source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Looking forward to making rosehips jelly and tea to which I will toast my late grandfather and grandmother, Edmund John and Margie Francis.

 

Basil

Basil-  Ocimum basilicum- Sweet Basil

        Ocimum sanctum- Holy Basil

Sweet Basil in bloom

 photo by silhouetteartpress.com

 Greek for “basileus” meaning “king”

A member of the Lamiaceae or Mint Family

Lamiaceae or the former name Labiatae refers to the Mint family in the Scientific classification system. This is a family of flowering plants. Lamiaceae plants are often aromatic. Leaves emerge oppositely mostly on square stems. Flowers are symmetrical with 5 united petals and sepals. Many members of the Lamiaceae family are culinary and easily cultivated by stem cuttings.

Basil is native to India and other tropical regions of Asia. Basil may have moved westward via Alexander the Great and his armies. The plant was grown in ancient Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean by the Greeks and Romans. Basil thrives in warm climates and 150 varieties are currently cultivated around the world. The aromatic herb can be grown from seed in a pot or in the ground with rich, loose fertilized soil. Depending upon the variety, the annual plant can grow from 18 inches to over 4 feet. The leaves of Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, are serrated and covered in fine hairs. The leaf appearance of Ocimum basilicum, or Sweet Basil and the many hybrids, is shiny and oval. Both Holy and Sweet Basil varieties are harvested throughout the growing season, spring to fall. To extend the growing season, prevent plants from flowering in the summer months and cut back main stem to first sets of leaves. The plant will regenerate and flower again in the fall. The flowers are also aromatic and are cross-pollinated by bees, thus producing the hundreds of hybrids. The seeds fall out easily and can propagate many new plants. Stem cuttings can also start new plants. Harvested leaves can be used fresh, dried or frozen as a seasoning. Basil is sensitive to frost, bring potted plants in for winter.

Parts Used: leaves and flowering tops

Cautions: essential oil of basil is estrogenic, avoid essential oil of basil during pregnancy or with estrogen promoted cancers. Do not take essential oil internally

Culinary Arts: Basil meaning “king” or “royal” is considered by many a chef as the king of herbs. The aromatic plant can be used fresh or dried. Unlike most herbs, the dried spice flavor increases with cooking. There are numerous basil varieties with an array of fragrances and flavors including lemon, cinnamon, spice, and clove. However, basil is best known for it’s clean spicy, anise like flavor. Uncooked fresh basil is often added to cucumbers and onions or cold dips and sauces. Basil blends deliciously with soft and hard cheeses alone or on sandwiches. Sprigs of the fresh herb can be added to flavor oils and vinegars and mixes well with rosemary, savory and lemon. Add basil to Italian pasta sauces, soups, egg dishes and meat dishes. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. Before refrigeration, basil’s antiseptic qualities were used to preserve meat and fish. Leaves can be placed  in the freezer for later use or dried and stored in dark airtight containers.

Garden Lore: Basil is considered a solar herb or strongly influenced by the movements of the sun. Solar plants respond to the rising and setting of the sun. The optimal time to harvest is in the morning, after dew has dried. The plant is said to awaken with the rising sun. Folklore says to plant basil near tomatoes. They are good companion plants and will encourage better growth in each other. Basil plants help to drive away insects. Potted plants can be found in kitchens and on outdoor tables to discourage flies.

Herbal Lore: Since antiquity, the herb has been associated with scorpions and snakes, possibly due to the fact that both plant and reptiles enjoy the hot sun. Basil is still associated with the zodiac sign of Scorpio in the month of November as well as the planet Mars. A tea of the leaves and flowers is refreshing to both the breath and the digestive system. The herb has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayuvedic medicine for headaches, colds, congestion and digestion. Aromatherapists also utilize the sweet and spicy scent of the essential oil for headaches, sinus congestion and head colds. The scent is considered uplifting and overcomes negative thoughts due to anger, fear or mental fatigue. In the Language of Flowers, basil signifies hatred.

Cautions: essential oil of basil is estrogenic, avoid essential oil of basil during pregnancy or with estrogen promoted cancers. Do not take essential oil internally

*The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is provided for your reading and gardening pleasure.

Reference

Atha, Anthony. 2001. The ultimate herb book: The definitive guide to growing and using over 200 herbs. Sterling Publishing: NY.

Arrowsmith, Nancy. 2007. Essential herbal wisdom: A complete exploration of 50 remarkable herbs. Herbarium Magicum, Germany: Allgeria.

Bremness, Lesley. 1988. The complete book of herbs: A practical guide to growing and using herbs. Penguin Studio: NY.

Boxer, A & Back, P. 1985. The herb book. Peeraye Books: London.

Chevallier, Andrew. 1996. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. DK Publishing:NY.

Cunningham, Scott. 1990. Encyclopedia of magic herbs. Llewellyn Publications: MN.

Harvey, Gail. 1995. The language of flowers. Gramercy Books, NJ.

Houdret, Jessica. 2010. An illustrative encyclopedia of herbs. Anness Publishing: London.

Keville, Kathi & Green Mindy. 2009. Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press: CA.

Mabey, Richard. 1988. The new age herbalist: how to use herbs for healing, nutrition, body care and relaxation. Gaia Books, London.

Arugula

Arugula- Eruca sativa or E. vesicaria

photo by silhouetteartpress.com

A member of the Brassicaceae, also known as the crucifers or the cabbage family

Brassicaceae or the former name Cruciferae refers to the cabbage family in the Scientific classification system. This is a family of mostly herbaceous medium sized flowering plants or Angiosperms. The older name Cruciferae, meaning “cross bearing,” describes the uniform 4 petal cross like flower structure encountered throughout the family. The leaves are alternate and sometimes organized in rosettes (a circular arrangement of leaves usually sitting near the soil). The leaves may also be pinnately lobed or deeply indented toward the midrib. The midrib is the main vein cutting the leaf into two halves. Pollination occurs by entomophily whereby pollen or spores are carried by insects. Seeds form in a kind of capsule called a silqua.

Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region and cultivated since Roman times. Until recently, the plant was mostly collected from the wild. Now the salad herb is cultivated throughout the world and begun to naturalize in more northern climates of Europe and North America. The annual plant grows 2 to 3 feet in height with pointed lance shape leaves deeply indented near the base or pinnately lobed. The salad herb does well in the ground or in pots with well-drained moist soil. Harvest young tender leaves quickly for a peppery flavor. Larger leaves tend to be bitter with a pungent spicy flavor. Arugula produces small cross like yellow or white flowers followed by seed capsules. The plant runs to seed quickly and self sows easily.

Parts Used: leaves, flowers and seeds

Culinary Arts: Arugula is considered a salad herb or a leaf vegetable and is often added to salad mixes. The flavor is peppery, pungent, and spicy, a delicious addition to soups, salads and sandwiches. The leaves can also be steamed like spinach. Flowers are edible. According to Earthbound Organic Farms (http://www.ebfarm.com/produce/salads/arugula/nutrition) the plant is high in vitamins A, K, C, Folate and Calcium. Fresh leaves should be eaten shortly after harvest or place unwashed leaves in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in the refrigerator. May keep for up to a week.

Garden Lore: In the Language of Flowers, Arugula means deceit.

Herbal Lore: The Romans prized the flavor and considered it an aphrodisiac.

 

References:

Bremness, Lesley. 1988. The complete book of herbs: A practical guide to growing and using herbs. Penguin Studio: NY.

Cox, Jeff & Moine Marie-Pierre. 2010. The cook’s herb garden. DK publishing: NY.

ebfarms.com

Harvey, Gail. 1995. The language of flowers. Gramercy Books, NJ.

lifeofaplant.blogspot.com

wikipedia.com

Patchouli

Patchouli (patchouly or pachouli)

 photo by silhouetteartpress.com

Pogostemon cablin- also P. commosum, P. hortensis

A member of the Lamiaceae or Mint Family

Lamiaceae or the former name Labiatae refers to the Mint family in the Scientific classification system. This is a family of flowering plants. Lamiaceae plants are often aromatic. Leaves emerge oppositely mostly on square stems. Flowers are symmetrical with 5 united petals and sepals. Many members of the Lamiaceae family are culinary and easily cultivated by stem cuttings.

Patchouli is native to the tropical regions of Asia, particularly Malaysia. It thrives in hot weather but not in direct sun. Throughout Asia, the plant is currently cultivated for its oil. The aromatic perennial grows bushy, erect, reaching heights of 2 or 3 feet and bears elongated clusters of small pale flowers. The fragrant flowers produce delicate seeds for planting. Stem cuttings can also be rooted in water for new plants. Leaves can be harvested through out the year. When in bloom, flowers can also be harvested. The essential oil is distilled from fermented leaves dry or fresh.

Parts Used: leaves and flowers as an insect repellant and for essential oil.

Culinary Arts: not recommended for consumption.

Garden Lore: Patchouli is associated with the feminine gender and the Earth element.

Herbal Arts: The scent of the yellowish oil improves with age. The heavy distinctive fragrance is earthy and woody. The high quality oil is used in the perfume industry. The herb is used in incantations for lust and fertility. The scent is believed by ancient and modern cultures to be an aphrodisiac. During the time of the ancient spice routes, Indian merchants layered cloth and rugs with patchouli leaves to repel moths and other insects. The scent was associated with the exotic Far East. If the smell was absent from trade goods, the goods were believed to be an imitation. Patchouli is still used in India as an insect repellant.

Cautions: Do not take internally

*The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is provided for your reading and gardening pleasure.

 

References:

Chevallier, Andrew. 1996. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants. DK Publishing:NY.

Cunningham, Scott. 1990. Encyclopedia of magic herbs. Llewellyn Publications: MN.

Keville, Kathi & Green Mindy. 2009. Aromatherapy: A complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press: CA.

Philip, K. 1994. Everyday aromatherapy. Brockhampton Press.

Wormwood, Valerie Ann. 1996. The fragrant mind: aromatherapy for personality, mind, mood and emotion. New World Library: CA.

Perennial versus Annual

Perennial versus Annual

To a beginning gardener the soil, sun and water requirements of each and every plant can quickly bury the best of intentions. The novice gardener will soon realize that not all plants live for years no matter how meticulous the care. To avoid frustration and upset, one must distinguish between perennial plants and annual plants.

The origin of the word perennial is Latin- per meaning “through” and annus meaning “year”.  A perennial is a plant when properly placed and cared for will live for 2 or more years. Perennials include herbaceous plants, as well as trees and shrubs, and generally grow and bloom over spring and summer, then die back in the autumn or winter. However, they return from their rootstocks rather than reseeding like an annual plant. Perennials do produce seeds and can be grown from seed.

Depending on your climate zone, some perennials may be treated as annuals due to the extreme temperatures of winter or summer. Ask a garden specialist at a nursery in your area.

Lilies are a perennial flowering plant

Examples of perennial plants:

Aloe                                         Ginger                                     Periwinkle

Artemisia                               Gingko                                    Poppy

Bay Laurel                              Ginseng                                 Plumbago

Canna Lilies                          Gladiolus                               Rosemary

Calla Lilies                             Green tea                               Sage

Catnip                                      Hibiscus                                Savory

Chives                                      Hyssop                                 Scented Geraniums

Chrysanthemum                    Iris                                          Skullcap

Columbine                               Lantana                                 Tansy

Coreopsis                                Lavender                                 Tarragon

Dandelion                               Lemon Balm                          Thyme

Echinacea                               Lemongrass                           Uva Ursi

Esperanza                                Lovage                                   Valerian

Fennel                                       Marjoram                              Verbena

Four O’Clock                           Mint                                         Violets

Firebush                                  Oregano                                   Yarrow

 

Annual plants germinate from a seed, grow, flower and die in a year or season. Nevertheless, annuals will reseed themselves or the seeds drop into the soil and germinate the next season or when conditions are right. True annuals only live longer than a year if prevented from going to seed. There are both summer and winter annuals. Winter annuals will germinate in fall or winter, sprout, flower and produce seed in warmer months.

Calendula or Pot Marigold is a warm season annual

Example of warm season annuals:

Arugula                                   Garlic                                      Sunflowers

Basil                                        Geranium                                Salvia

Beans                                      Impatiens                                 Savory

Bulbs (some)                          Marigold                                 Squash

Calendula                                Melons                                    Swiss Chard

Cayenne                                  Morning Glory                       Tomatillo

Chamomile                             Nasturtium                             Tomato

Cilantro/Coriander               Okra                                        Watermelon

Cosmos                                   Petunia                                    Wildflowers

Dill                                           Potulaca                                   Zinna

Pansies are a cool season annual

 Example of winter annuals:

Alyssum                                  Lettuces                                   Petunia

Broccoli                                   Lobelia                                    Potatoes

Bulbs (some)                           Onion                                      Radishes

Cauliflower                             Pansy                                      Snapdragons

Cabbage                                  Peas                                         Violas

A home garden or landscape benefits from both perennials and annuals. Always consider the sun and water requirements and plant garden beds accordingly. Perennials will stay in your garden for years, so choose dependable species for your area. For annuals, pick accessible places for ease of changing plants each season. Most Importantly, have fun arranging the profusion of colors, heights and shapes of perennial and annual plants.

 

Photographs by silhouetteartpress.com

References:

Better Homes & Gardens. 1979. Complete guide to gardening. Meredith Corporation:Des Moines, IA.

gardensablaze.com

Reader’s Digest. 1996. 1001 hints & tips for your garden. The Reader’s Digest Association:NY.

Welsh, Douglas F. 2007. Texas garden almanac. Texas A&M University Press: College Station.

Wikipedia Online.