Tag Archives: the healing power of kitchen herbs

Parasites and Your Health Part I

640px-HookwormsJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

As creepy as it may sound, hundreds of millions of Americans are unknowingly infested with parasites that can cause everything from aching joints and fatigue to blindness and even death.  If you don’t think you could ever have parasites, better think again! In this two-part series, I’ll cover the most common beasties found inside the human body and how you can get rid of intestinal parasites using a simple, safe, and natural remedy. Continue reading

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The Gift of Spice

SpicesJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

Food has the power to hurt or heal, depending on how it is grown and prepared.  In this week’s article, I have a bit of “spicy” history and 10 fantastic naturally healthy spice blends that you can make at home and share with friends using common home-grown organic herbs and spices, which are not only super yummy but super healthy, too! Continue reading

Making Herbal Tinctures: Part II

Mortar and Pestel - Copyright 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

Last week, in Making Herbal Tinctures: Part I, we discussed the different types of solvents (menstruum) used to make high-quality herbal tinctures, including alcohol such as vodka, Everclear, brandy, and wine, as well as non-alcohol solvents like vinegar and vegetable glycerin.   But choosing the right solvent is only a small part of the equation.  Indeed, measuring your ingredients properly is the critical key to creating reliable and consistent tinctures.

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Making Herbal Tinctures: Part I

By Jill HendersonShow Me Oz 

In the world of herbalism, tinctures are the star of the show.  For those who grow, gather or use herbs for healing purposes, learning to make tinctures is one of the most important – and easiest – skills to learn.  Unfortunately, many people believe that all they have to do to make a good tincture is to pour alcohol over herbs packed in a jar.  But the truth is, tinctures made this way are almost always inconsistent in their potency and effectiveness.   In this two-part series, we will examine the right way to make tinctures so that you can be assured of obtaining the best, most healing tinctures possible.

The Sweet Cicely Revival

1200px-Myrrhis_odorata_in_bloomJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

If you are a lover of kitchen or healing herbs, you have most likely heard of or read about Sweet Cicely, but have never seen it in person or grown it yourself.  The truth is that this lovely herb is rarely grown or used in America today, which is why I often refer to it as one of the “forgotten herbs”.  That being said, I think it is high time that herbalists and culinary artisans turn their attention back to this delicate beauty and return it to a place of honor in both the culinary and ornamental gardens of today.  (Feature image by Amanda Slater, Coventry, England – Sweet Cecily, CC BY-SA 2.0, edited,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4225926)

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 3)

moon gardenJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Now that you have an idea of the types of plants that can be grown in a moon garden, let’s get down to the bones! Start by selecting a location for your garden. It can be in a little used corner of the yard for privacy or meditation, or it can sit smack dab in the middle of the yard. For trip-free nighttime strolls be sure and allow plenty of room for pathways that are both wide and clear. And if you are not the type of person who really wants to wander in the yard at night, consider placing the garden near a porch or deck where it can be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety.

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 2)

2016 8-16 MoonflowerJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~ In last week’s post (see it here), I talked a little about the history and lore of moon gardens and how they have been used by lovers, philosophers and for religious and ceremonial purposes throughout the ages.  In this week’s post I will share with you a whole host of plants that will look fabulous in your very own moon garden – some of which might just surprise you!  So, let’s get started!

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night

Herb Borage flowering (4)Jill Henderson Show Me Oz:  Often associated with the mystical, moon gardens have been lighting up the night for thousands of years. Adored by lovers and philosophers, these midnight gardens were places of secrecy and silence, contemplation and meditation, ritual and ceremony. The moon has always given mankind a reason to look towards the heavens in search of answers and inspiration. The cool solid stillness of night is the perfect venue to relax and reflect. The moon garden provides just such a place. It is no wonder moon gardens have become not only a popular gardening theme, but a true place of peace. Continue reading

Fenugreek: The Forgotten Herb

clip_image001Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

When I first began gardening 25 years ago, the variety of garden seeds was extremely limited.  Heirloom vegetables were just beginning to make a come back and culinary herbs were seriously limited to a handful of the most popular types.  Today, the number of seed varieties available to the average gardener is mind-boggling, which is wonderful if you love to garden.  But for all the choices available to us, there is one small herb called fenugreek that is not only hard to come by, but one that has been almost entirely forgotten by gardeners, cooks, and herbalists in America.

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Fall Leaves: Good for the Garden

2013 11-22 Fall MosaicBy Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The clear, cool days of fall are perfect for wrapping up last-minute garden chores, such as winterizing perennial herbs, flowers and shrubs.  It’s also a good time to cultivate existing garden beds or create new beds for spring planting.  But there’s one chore in the fall that not everyone looks forward to – raking leaves.  Sometimes there are so many leaves that homeowners spend weeks trying to get rid of the deepening piles.  But instead of raking and burning, or bagging leaves for the garbage, consider putting your fall leaves to use in the garden as a protective, nutrient-rich mulch.

Crafting Herbal Oils & Vinegars

Herbal Vinegars (1)Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~
for Acres USA Magazine

The summer harvest is never truly complete until I have at least a few bottles of garlic chili oil tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars gracing the windowsill. These flavorful and versatile condiments are super easy to make and add layers of flavor to your favorite dishes.

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Parsley: More Than a Garnish

Curly parsley. Image via Wikimedia Commons No Copyright Via RanveigJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Parsley: That ambiguous and often frilly herb that many gardeners grow, but few actually use.  If you haven’t grown parsley yourself, you’ve surely bought it at least once or twice in your life to use as a garnish for dressing up platters or plates. Or, perhaps you’ve gone so far as to sprinkle it sparingly atop mashed potatoes or added a pinch here in there when making soup or stuffing.  And while many recipes call for at least a bit of fresh parsley, most people don’t go to the trouble – or worse yet, they use bland dried parsley from the grocery store.  (Egad!) If this sounds like you, I’m about to rock your kitchen and your herbal medicine chest by showing you that parsley is much more than a pretty garnish: it’s a virtual powerhouse of flavor and a game-changer for your health.  And best of all – it’s super easy to grow and use.

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Drying Herbs Fast, Easy and Free!

Freshly dried thyme the fast, easy and free way! Image copyright Jill HendersonJill HendersonShow Me Oz
As a gardener, backwoods herbalist, and foodie, I absolutely love my home-grown herbs.  They are so easy to care for and even easier to put away for the long run.  I freeze a few herbs like cilantro and basil pesto, but honestly, drying is the very best way to preserve the flavor and medicinal qualities of culinary herbs. Plus, if the electricity goes out – or you need to bug out – dried herbs are the best.  And drying homegrown herbs isn’t hard or time consuming, either.  And you don’t need to buy or build a fancy or expensive dehydrator to get the job done.  In fact, when you dry herbs my way, it’s fast, easy, and free.

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Itching for Summer – Dealing with Chiggers!


By Orrling and Tomer S (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson
Show Me Oz –Summer is a fabulous time to explore and hunt for wild edibles or to hike along a cool river, but people around these parts generally avoid venturing into overgrown and untamed places during the summer months because of the ticks and chiggers. How does one even begin to tell outsiders and visitors to our fair hills about the myriad of insects that inhabit our beloved Oz? I suppose if you’ve got a vicious sense of humor, you could just let them wade into the chest-deep grass and work it out later, because they’re not going to believe you anyway. Continue reading

Black Cumin: The Blessed Seed

AndreHolz at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – As a gardener, cook and herbal enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting plants. Because my garden is relatively small, every single plant that makes it through the front gate either has to look fantastic, taste great or have useful healing properties.  One plant that fits all of my criteria is Nigella sativa – also known as the Blessed Seed.

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Winter Wonder: The Lenten Rose

Hellebores - copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress (5)Show Me Oz

I have been gardening nearly all my adult life and have had the pleasure of knowing and growing many lovely flowering plants and shrubs.  But it was by sheer luck that I became acquainted with the hardy evergreen, Hellebores orientalis, more commonly referred to as the Lenten Rose.  These unique flowering perennials not only sport durable evergreen foliage and are easy to grow and maintain, but the softly delicate flowers appear at a the most unlikely time of the year.

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Healthful Ginger for the Holidays

A spoonful of ginger.The Holiday Season is in full swing and with it comes an almost insane schedule of shopping, entertaining, special events and, of course, dining out and cooking for friends and family.  And while the holidays sure can be fun, they aren’t always so good for our health in terms of stress, lack of sleep, colds and flu and the good old-fashioned belly ache from eating way too much “good stuff”.   Luckily, the holidays are naturally festooned with some of the most potent healing herbs and spices in the world including cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger – one of my all time favorites.  Not only does ginger taste great in a dizzying array of holiday dishes, it can also make you feel better when the holidays get the best of you.

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Essential Herbs: Basil

Classic Genovese basil ready to harvest.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a plethora of lusty basil plants flourishing in the garden.  In fact, I love the sight, smell, and taste of these leafy annual herbs so much that I always over-plant in the spring and by mid-summer wind up with more basil than I need – or even know what to do with.  Yet, every spring when my husband asks me if I think we might just have too many basil starts, my reply is always the same… there’s no such thing as too much basil!

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Make Your Own Garlic Braids in 10 Easy Steps

2014 6-30 How to braid garlic 2 (26)by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In my kitchen, garlic reigns supreme.  I use it for so many dishes that I like to joke that I put garlic in everything but dessert! Because we use so much fresh garlic, we always grow enough to last us all year.  The only problem with growing a ton of garlic is storing it in a way that saves space, preserves quality, and allows for quick and easy removal of bulbs that develop bad spots, bruises, or those that have begun to sprout.  To solve these problems I began braiding our garlic. With garlic braids, not only can I easily choose which bulbs need to be used first, but the long strands can be hung virtually anywhere and take up absolutely zero storage space on my shelves.  Of course, garlic braids look great and they make wonderful gifts, too.  So get your garlic on and let’s braid it in 10 easy steps!

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Harvesting and Using the Flowers of Herbs

2014 6-27 (11) Garden Walkby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

After a long, cold winter, spring has finally arrived in my neck of the woods.  At long last, the dormant herbs in the garden have erupted in a wave of fresh green leaves that brighten the garden path.  And dotted here throughout, are winter hardy alliums, which will soon bear the very first herbal flowers of the season.  And while I will relish their beauty, herb flowers are more than just pretty – they are downright tasty, too.

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Don’t Let Your Garlic Die! Make the Most of Your Winter Stash

Don't let your stored garlic go to waste!by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Every summer, Dean and I spend a measurable amount of time harvesting, cleaning, curing, and braiding the organic garlic we produce in our garden.  We use garlic in almost every dish we prepare at home and often utilize its amazing curative powers, as well.  I like garlic braids because they are beautiful to look at and compact enough to hang in the kitchen pantry without cluttering things up.  But no matter how and in what conditions you store your garlic, there comes a time when the living bulbs begin to sprout and slowly rot. But you can salvage the wonderful flavor and medicinal properties of garlic before it’s too late…

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Herbs for Natural Hair Care

Straining an herbal oil infusion. Copyright Jill Henderson - ShowMeOz.wordpressBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When I first started studying herbs and herbalism more than two decades ago, I was fascinated by the multitude of natural ingredients used to create herbal preparations.   The following article includes interesting tidbits of information, but is by no means a complete list of their attributes or actions.  Of course, a lot more could be said about each ingredient or recipe, yet these herbal tidbits might just inspire you to look for more ways to use a particular ingredient or to try some of them in a new way!  I haven’t adulterated my herbal diary notes to include my modern-day uses of herbs for natural hair and skin care, so please feel free to add your knowledge or share your thoughts and recipes with us! Enjoy!

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The Winter Herb Garden: Bring it In!

Potted oregano Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

No matter how hard the bitter winds blow or how deep the snow gets, the avid gardener can still enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of fresh home-grown herbs all winter long.  All you need is a few pots, some potting soil, and one or two relatively warm and sunny windowsills on which to perch them.  And while an indoor herb garden will likely produce less than those summer-grown herbs from the garden, they are still useful, flavorful and oh, so beautiful to look at.  In this week’s Show Me Oz we’ll talk about indoor herb gardens and how to grow your own, including special cultivars bred specifically to perform well in pots.

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Garden Time: Chives and Their Oniony Relatives

Spring onion chives in bloom. Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s mid-November and an arctic blast is about to make its way all the way to the Gulf Coast.  But even though it is really beginning to feel like winter, gardening season isn’t over just yet!  Here in Zone 7 – where we’ve already had several hard freezes – the chives and their oniony relatives are still churning out a plethora of tasty leaves and succulent stems for the kitchen.  If you’ve never grown winter onions, you might be surprised how long “stinking rose” family members last in the winter months.  And believe it or not,  early winter is a great time to plant a few seeds of your favorite onion wanna-be!

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Winterize Your Garden for Spring Success

Rocks make excellent mulch for woody perennials like lavender.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Winter is a fact of life and as now that fall is here, our top priority should be to prepare our perennial plants to endure whatever winter throws their way.  In the plant kingdom, dormancy is not a type of death; rather, it is a reduced pace of living. Even in the coldest climates, perennials continue to respirate, grow roots, and utilize stored food to keep them alive and strengthen them for the growing season to come.  Which is why it is so important to give them a little extra protection and care before winter’s chill takes over.

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Multiply Your Plants the Cheap and Easy Way!

2013 5-12 The Herb Garden (1)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s hard to believe summer is almost over, but I can tell by the ragged look of the garden that fall is on it’s way.  Even so, there’s plenty of gardening left to do before winter’s chill sets in.  Among my favorite fall chores is propagating perennial herbs and flowers using techniques like stem cuttings, layering, and division to generate tons of new baby plants the cheap and easy way.

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Washing Herbs: The Good, the Bad and the Messy

Thai Basil sm_thumb[6]by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Now that the weather has finally warmed to normal summer temperatures many of the late-flowering herbs in the garden have exploded into a tangle of arching stems and resinous leaves ready to be harvested for drying and storage.  But before I begin cutting, I want to make sure that they are relatively free of dirt and debris.  But should herbs harvested for drying be washed at all, and if so, how and when does one go about washing them?

Tips for Harvesting Flavorful Herbs

Cilantro harvest.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Harvest and storage methods are critical components of utilizing herbs or other plant material for culinary or medicinal purposes.  Gathering, drying and storing herbs correctly a big difference in the quality and quantity of essential oils in the leaves.  This not only affects the flavor of dried herbs, but increases their shelf-life and medicinal potential, as well.   Of course, it is possible to gather herbs at just about any point in their growth cycle and still obtain a decent product, but for flavor that will knock your socks off,  consider the following tips for harvesting the best culinary herbs ever.

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Preserving the Freshness of Herbs

Cilantro is best fresh or freshly frozen.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I love cooking with fresh herbs, which is why when we moved here, the herb garden wound up being planted two steps from the front door.  I wanted to be able to step out and get a quick pinch of this herb or that between stirring the pot.  But even with my laid back life of no work (ha ha), it’s not always that simple or convenient to run outside when it’s raining, for example.   So, I have learned to keep plenty of fresh herbs at hand in the kitchen where no shoes or umbrellas are necessary.   But for an herb-fiend like me, that means finding a way to keep them at their just-picked best.

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The Wonderful World of Mints

The Wonderful World of Mints - ACRES USA MagazineCheck out my latest article, The Wonderful World of Mints, in ACRES USA Magazine by clicking the link below or the image to the left.

June14_Henderson

Pokeweed In The Pot – Or Not?

Cooking pokeweed copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s that time of year again and the pokeweed is already knee-high – just right for the picking.    Although poke has been eaten as a vegetable for hundreds – if not thousands – of years, authorities now say that pokeweed should never be consumed because of its potentially toxic compounds.  Yet, over the years I have received multitudes of emails from older folks who say they’ve eaten it their whole lives with no ill effect.   What do you thing?  Should pokeweed go in the pot, or not?

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Garden Time: Temptingly Tart Sorrel – Part II

French Sorrel image copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Last week, I talked about the various types of edible sorrel that can be grown in the garden or wild foraged.  The two most commonly cultivated species are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus), followed by their wild counterparts, Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and Red-veined Sorrel or Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus).  Of these, French sorrel is the most popular for cooking and fresh eating.  This week, we’ll take a closer look at how to use French and Garden Sorrel in the kitchen and then delve into the medicinal aspect of these overlooked herbs.

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Garden Time: Temptingly Tart Sorrel Part I

French Sorrel - Image copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Spring had barely arrived before we were filling our salads and sandwiches with the crisp, lemony leaves of sorrel; one of our favorite perennial vegetables.  Once used extensively in North America as a flavorful green and medicinal herb, sorrel is rarely found in herb or vegetable gardens today.  If rare in the herb and vegetable garden, sorrel is almost entirely overlooked as an ornamental, where it easily adds visual zip and vertical structure to perennial flower gardens with its verdant green leaves and small but lovely reddish-brown flowers.  If you’ve never grown sorrel, or worse yet, have never eaten sorrel, then you are truly in for a mouth-watering treat.

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10 Easy Steps to Using Herbs Wisely

Kitchen Herbs with Mortar and Pestel Copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With a growing distrust of big pharmaceutical companies and a government that seems to approve new drugs with lightening speed, it is no wonder that millions of Americans are turning to herbs to treat everything from the common cold to cancer.  Should you decide to dive in to a self-prescribed herbal remedy there are 10 easy steps to using herbs as safely and wisely as possible.

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Natural Ingredients for Herbal Preparations

Herbs - Mortar and Pestel (3)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When I first started studying herbs and herbalism, I was fascinated by the multitude of natural ingredients that are used alone or combined with other ingredients to make herbal preparations like lotions, salves, soaks, and compresses.   The following includes interesting tidbits of information for each ingredient, but is by no means a complete list of their attributes or actions.  Of course, a lot more could be said about each ingredient, yet this list might just inspire you to look for more ways to use a particular ingredient or to try some of these in a new way!  As always, please feel free to add your knowledge or share your thoughts!

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Natural Oils and Their Uses

natural oilsBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

Natural oils are a vital component of herbal preparations such as lotions, salves, and balms.  These herbal products are often meant to sooth, moisturize, and nourish skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes.  Natural oils are often added to simple liquid herbal extractions such as tinctures, tisanes, and decoctions to allow them to adhere to the body for long periods of time and thus, allowing their healing properties to be absorbed.  They can be used alone, or in combination with other oils, fats, and herbs to make healing remedies at home.

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Natural Deodorants

Common Sage_smBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Nearly twenty-five years ago, when I first began studying herbs and plants and delving into the natural rhythm of being human, I took lots and lots of notes.  For my entire adult life I have followed and been fascinated by plants and nature.  Learning to know their healthful nature and to pass what I have learned on to others has been one of my life’s passions.  The following is an unabridged tidbit from one of my very earliest study journals.  Enjoy, be kind, and feel free to share. ~

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Seeds & Spice: The Abundance of Herbs

Corriander Cilantro By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If you grow  herbs in your garden for seasoning food, then you already know how easy and rewarding they can be.  After all, herbs season and preserve food and can be used for medicinal purposes, as well.  But did you know that many common herbs also produce spice in the form of fruits or seeds?  These seeds are not only flavorful and medicinal, but they can also be used to  start more herbs in the spring, as well.

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Growing Herbs & Spices in the Home Garden

Thai Basil © 2013 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If you are one of the millions of people who began gardening for the first time, or have returned to gardening within the last six years, then you already know that growing your own food saves money, increases self-sufficiency, and leads to a healthier lifestyle.  Yet, among those who grow a wide variety of edible plants, many have not yet tuned into the fun and simplicity of growing their own herbs and spices.  So if you have been thinking about growing your own, but just haven’t gotten around to it, then this article is for you.

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The Wonderful World of Mints Part III: The Medicinal Uses of Mint

Mortar and Pestel with Herbs © 2013 Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In Part II of The Wonderful World of Mints: Growing & Using Mint in the Kitchen, we covered the various species and cultivars of the Mentha genera and how to grow, harvest and use them in the kitchen.  We also learned how to prevent losing the distinctive flavors of specialty mints over time by separating those that have the ability to cross pollinate.  Of course, most gardeners already know and love flavored mints for use in food and to create soothing and flavorful teas, but they aren’t just fantastically edible.  Indeed, most Mint Family members are highly prized for their nutritive and medicinal qualities, which makes them much more than just an ingredient in tea or toothpaste.

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The Wonderful World of Mints – Part I – Identifying Mints in the Garden

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Of all the plants in the garden, mints are probably the most numerous and sometimes the most notorious.  That’s why most people immediately envision sprightly spearmint, tangy peppermint, or one of the many flavorful cultivars or subspecies of the Mentha genera when mint is discussed.  But Mentha mints only make up a tiny fraction of plants that belong to the Mint Family (Lamiaceae), which contains over 200 genera and more than 7,000 species!  In fact, it might be surprising to learn just how many Mint Family plants reside in our gardens. Continue reading

Weeds That Heal: Chickweed

Chickweed FlowersBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

There was a time, not so long ago, when almost every woman in charge of a household sought out the wild plants that we generally refer to as weeds.  Rich in vitamins and minerals , many of these plants were welcomed to the table as nutritive spring potherbs.   Others would be gathered and made into healing teas, tonics, infusions, poultices and salves that could be used treat many types of injuries or illnesses.  One of the earliest and most versatile weeds that homesteaders and healers gathered in early spring was the lowly and much maligned chickweed.

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Garden Time: The Incredible, Edible Onion

onion 'rings'By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Of all the vegetables, herbs and spices used to season food and heal the body, the unassuming onion is rarely given its proper dues.  Every day, billions of onions are sliced, diced, shredded, minced, fried, baked, dried, juiced and sautéed for our culinary pleasures, yet seldom do we sing its praises.  For a plant that serves so many needs and desires in our kitchens, gardens and herbal pantries, the savory, spicy-sweet goodness of onions in all their forms should be elevated to something nearing Nirvana.   Continue reading

The Indoor Winter Herb Garden

Potted Oregano Copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson

Gardeners can enjoy the sight, smell and taste of culinary herbs long after summer’s end.  By providing adequate light, warmth and moisture, culinary herbs will grow well enough indoors to provide the discriminating chef with plenty of savory flavors for the pot all winter long.

Garden Time: Multiply Your Herbs & Flowers

The Herb Garden copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Now that summer is almost over, it’s time to start thinking about repotting, transplanting and dividing perennial flowers and herbs.  So often, we wait until spring to move or propagate new plants.  But by taking care of those chores now, you not only sidestep more work during the busy spring season, but you also give your new plants a big head start on next year’s growth.

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Fenugreek: The Forgotten Herb

Fenugreek by Miles CollinsBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an ancient herb from the Legume family of plants, Fabaceae.  It is sometimes called Foenugreek, bird’s foot, Greek hayseed or goat’s horn.  Not often seen in modern gardens, fenugreek is herb, spice, vegetable and medicinal all rolled into one tidy little plant.  Grown primarily as an arid-land crop in countries such as India, Nepal, Argentina, France and Spain, fenugreek does well in xeriscape gardens.   Because of its diverse uses, this herb deserves a much stronger presence in the kitchen, the medicine chest and the garden. Continue reading

At Home in the Kitchen: Herbal Vinegars and Oils

Herbed Vinegar & OilBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer’s harvest is never complete until a few bottles of garlic chili oil are tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars grace the windowsill.  Both oils and vinegars add a lot of flavor to almost any dish and are ready when you need them as dressings and marinades.  Herbed oil is great stir-frying,   sautéing or braising meats, tofu and vegetables.  Some herbed oils are best made with dry ingredients, while others require the crispness found only in freshly-picked ingredients.  So, while the height of summer is still a way off, now is the best time to begin gathering materials and deciding which blends will work best for your style of cooking.

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Herbal Tea: Just Plain Good

2014 12-7 Tea (3)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Mention the word tea, and most thoughts turn to a strong hot cup of Earl Gray or a tall glass of sweet iced pekoe. But these days tea is more than black—it is green, or herbal, or something akin to hot chocolate. Regardless of how you have thought of it in the past, one thing is certain: tea is medicinal.  And now, with the spring season swinging into early summer, many of the kitchen herbs in my garden are rapidly reaching their flowering stage.  Of course, leafy herbs are at their  peak of perfection just as the flowers begin to open, but I like to allow a few stems to bloom, as well.  The flowers of most herbs are not only flavorful when used fresh or dried, but they also can have medicinal properties themselves and are excellent additions to many herbal tea blends. Continue reading

Essential Herbs: Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm_cropBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz  –

Lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs for many reasons.  To start, it is by far one of the easiest herbs to grow and it’s beautiful to look at, as well.  I particularly like the way lemon balm attracts beneficial insects and butterflies  to my garden.  Occasionally, even the hummingbirds find it intriguing.  I am also partial to lemon balm tea, especially on a cold winter night.  It’s deep earthy lemony flavor brings back a touch of summer sunshine and its soothing and calming properties make it a valuable medicinal herb.

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Moving Herbs Indoors

gardenspadesmby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Now that summer has come to an end and the cool sunny days of fall are upon us, it is time to think about preparing the garden for a long winter’s nap.   It is the perfect time to divide and transplant perennial herbs.  But while your at it, why not bring some of that summer sunshine indoors for the winter?  Many herbs growing outdoors can be brought indoors for the winter, providing much needed freshness to both the windowsill and the cooking pot.

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Harvesting Culinary Herbs

2007-9--11_thumb2

by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Harvesting quality herbs is not rocket science, but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that the herbs that will season your food and go into your herbal remedies will be the best they can possibly be.

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Propagating Herbs: Layering & Stem Cuttings

Part 2 of 2 – By Jill Henderson

In the first  part of this two-part series we covered propagating herbs through the process of division.  In this article, we’ll finish the art of propagation through layering and stem cuttings – all fast and easy ways of increasing your perennial herbs and flowers.

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An Ode to Rain

Stormy SkiesBy Jill Henderson

After last summer’s brutal drought and a winter uncertain to end, spring brought about some unseasonably warm temperatures and the inevitable spring rains.  And while heavy rains are not uncommon in the Ozarks, deluges are always disconcerting.

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Propagating Herbs: Division

5638123732_b9c6e5f532_mBy Jill Henderson

By now your garden honey-do list is probably getting pretty long, but if you haven’t done it yet, now is the absolute best time to propagate perennial herbs and flowers through cutting, layering and division.  Vegetative propagation is best achieved during periods of active growth such as spring and fall, with spring being the best season overall.  During this time the plant is filled with growth hormones in the stems and roots, and you can take advantage of those natural growth stimulators to multiply your mature plantings.  This article on herb propagation comes from my book, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs. Continue reading

Pokeweed: Good Green or Toxic Weed?

Poke Salat copyright Jill HendersonBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –

Spring in the Ozarks wouldn’t be the same without gathering and preparing at least one pot of poke.  At our house, this leafy perennial ranks right up there with other spring edibles such as asparagus.  This week I was planning on writing an article on how to prepare poke for consumption, when  a colleague pointed out an article written by Dr. Jean Weese, a Food Scientist with the  Alabama Cooperative Extension Service entitled, Don’t Eat Poke Salad.  As the title suggests, Dr. Weese attempts to dissuade people from eating poke in any form, noting that it contains “at least three different types of poison”.  The controversy over whether poke’s is toxic or edible has been going on for a very long time, but who is right?  Is poke poisonous or is it safe to eat?  Fodder for this week’s Show Me Oz.

Culinary Herb Garden: The Ultimate Getaway

Herb Garden (4)By Jill Henderson

Your life is completely packed with crazy schedules and pressing deadlines and that cell phone you got to help you keep up with it all is driving you crazy. Some days you just want to shut it all off and hide from everyone. You need a serious time-out but just can’t seem to find enough time or the right place to take it.

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Garden Time: Starting Seeds Indoors (Part One)

2008-2-29 - Seed sowing (3) croppedBy Jill Henderson

It’s the deepest, coldest part of winter and by now you’ve probably spent weeks pouring over stacks of seed catalogs and thumbing through that old box of seeds that you saved from last year’s garden, all the while taking notes and imagining the luscious herbs and veggies that will grace your garden rows this summer. And now that you’ve made the perfect selections, it’s time to turn your attention to starting some of those wonderful seeds indoors! Continue reading