The prairie gardener's go-to for herbs

Janet Melrose, 1954-

Book - 2024

"If you've ever stood in the produce section of the grocery store trying to pick out the least wilty of those little plastic containers of herbs, you'll understand the appeal of growing your own. In the ninth installment of their prairie gardening series, seasoned (ahem) gardeners Janet Melrose and Sheryl Normandeau answer all your questions about growing these culinary, medicinal, and spiritually beneficial plants, including their potential for use in pest management and as hardy lawn replacements. Beginning with the where (containers, raised beds, spirals, and more), the pair then provide guidance on choosing healthy plants, how to nurture herb seedlings, soil needs, watering, dealing with aggressive spreaders (hello, mint!...), pest prevention, overwintering--including how not to kill that potted rosemary you brought inside for its own darn good--and lots of ideas for storing and enjoying your herbal goodies, from drying and freezing to making tasty infused oils, vinegars, and butters. The final chapter is a roundup of herbs for all occasions and locations, including the pair's top choices for insect repellers, butterfly and hummingbird attractors, edible flowers, and ingredients for herbal tisanes."--

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Handbooks and manuals
Victoria, British Columbia : TouchWood Editions 2024.
Main Author
Janet Melrose, 1954- (author)
Other Authors
Sheryl Normandeau (author)
Physical Description
158 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Introduction
  • 1. Designing with Herbs
  • 2. Planting and Propagating Herbs
  • 3. Growing and Cultivating Herbs
  • 4. Harvesting and Storing Herbs
  • 5. The Things That Bug Our Herbs
  • 6. Herbs for All Reasons and Seasons
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • Sources
  • Index
  • About the Authors
  • About the Series

What is an herb? It seems like such a straightforward question. We all know what an herb is, don't we? But as soon as we start to reply, we pause. Its not as easy as those flakes of parsley or thyme that flavour our food so enticingly. What about all of those herbs that are used by herbalists to heal us (or, for that matter, can they harm us)? Or the ones we use to calm or invigorate ourselves? Or the ones that connect us to our spiritual side? Going beyond the uses we have for herbs, we need to consider what sort of plants are herbs. Are they just annual ones that go from seed to seed in one season? Or are there also herbaceous perennial plants? What about trees and shrubs? By the time we have thought about all the answers to those questions, we are in a right muddle. But it doesn't need to be that way if we go right back to the roots of the matter: language, that is, not botanically speaking. Our English word "herb" is derived from the Latin herba , simply meaning grass or green crops. The Oxford Dictionary gives us two meanings of the word "herb" that together are most useful as well as provides boundaries for the scope of this book. As a noun, an herb is any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume. It is also any seed-bearing plant that does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering. For the purposes of this book, we will generally stick with this definition, only occasionally straying to encompass a few roots considered herbs in common use, and perhaps stray into a few trees and shrubs that we use as herbals. Herbs are not just used for culinary purposes, though certainly their role in making our cuisine both delightfully delicious to eat and culturally diverse cannot be overstated. Many are also high in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants necessary to maintain health. We tend to forget in our modern world that medicine as we know it, began with ancient peoples gathering and experimenting with various plants as remedies to alleviate pain and other symptoms of illness and injury. Apothecaries were stocked with plants grown in botanical gardens. Herbalists were wise women and men, revered by their neighbours for their knowledge of plants and their abilities to preserve health as well as restore it. Today, herbalism is enjoying a renaissance around the world. Herbs have been used for spiritual purposes since time immemorial. They form parts of rituals and ceremonies for people and cultures everywhere. Herbs, as well as spices, are the backbone of aromatherapy. Their sweet fragrances and pungent odors are used to relieve stress, energize, cleanse the spirit, and enhance one's moods. Simply running one's fingers through lavender or sniffing sage is enough to validate the effectiveness of herbs as aromatherapy. Herbs have other roles, too. They are used in cosmetics as well as for dyeing, not to mention their ornamental value in our gardens. They are used in companion planting as well as in Integrated Pest Management. Not only do herbs have multiple and overlapping roles, but they also convey singular benefits for the gardener and cook in us all. Growing our own herbs saves us money, we get to enjoy their superior taste and other properties, and we broaden our minds and knowledge. In the landscape, herbs can have multiple functions. They bring biodiversity to our gardens as well as provide layers for a resilient garden, from ground covers to semi-shrubs, hedges, focal points, and more. They can even replace a lawn or at least a section of it, if you so choose. Many herbs suffer little to no damage from maundering insects, birds, and mammals, coming as they do with their own defences against the animal world. Even more importantly, most herbs are able to adapt to our ever warmer and drier climate on the prairies. Lastly, and this is important, too--they are a delight to grow and care for. The world of herbs awaits! --JM & SN Excerpted from The Prairie Gardener's Go-To for Herbs by Janet Melrose, Sheryl Normandeau All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.