Monthly Archives: May 2009

Do you need a hobby?

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Everybody does right?  Well, I’m here to introduce you to the world of herb gardening.  Herb gardening is at least as old as the earliest civilizations.  In every age and in every part of the world herbs have been valued in cooking, medicine and the preparation of fragrances.

Okay, okay, that’s nice….but what is an herb?  An herb is a plant or plant part used as an ingredient for flavor, fragrance or healing.  Not to be confused for a spices, which are tropical in orgin.  With spices we use the plants root (ginger), fruits (vanilla pods), flowers (cloves), seeds (pepper), or bark (cinnamon).

Herbs do well in pots inside and out.  Herbs are easy to dry and chop up for your own dry herb needs.  Children like herbs a lot too.  If you are interested in any “kindergardening” ideas, and herb garden is a great one.  Herbs arouse kids’ curiosity and interest because they thoroughly engage the senses.  You touch the rosemary and your hand smells like rosemarry, the mint smells like mint, the snozzberries….any way, herbs are cool!

Culinary Herbs:

Basil                    Chives

Garlic                  Oregano

Rosemary           Dill

Mint                     Parsley

Sage                      Thyme

Tarragon              Summer savory

Fragrant Herbs:

Bergamot             Geranium

Iris Florentina     Lavender

Lemon Balm         Rose

Medicinal and Decorative Herbs:

Chamomile             Comfrey

Feverfew                 Wormwood

I started and herb garden last year.  It is located in my backyard, close to my creek and it receives mostly full sun.  Ideally, kitchen herb gardens are located close to  your kitchen as possible, for the convenience in cooking.  I started out with three rosemary plants (which have all died), some strawberries, mint, lemon balm, echinacea, and two kinds of oregano.   This season, my herb garden has gone through a massive construction, and if you live in the NWA, please come by and see it, it will be a force to be reckoned with!  Some new additions include chives, carrots, chard, onions, flat leafed parsley, garlic, lavender, two kinds of basil and some red curly lettuce.  I know what some of you may be thinking, some of those things are not herbs.  I know that, it’s an experiment.  I have the room and the will, you should give it a shot for yourself some time.  Now that I have my herb garden in some sort of shape I’m all excited.  It’s my pet this year.DSC_0102

These pictures were taken three days ago.  I have since pulled out more of  the rocks to create more patches for edibles.

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Strawberries

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Oregano

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Chives

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Mint galore, which I pulled out today and removed some of those rocks.  Don’t plant mint in the ground if you don’t want it to take over, because it will.  I don’t mind that, because it fills in gaps for me.

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Catnip, or Cat mint

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The “other” Oregano.  This is Greek Oregano, which is delicious!

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Lemon Balm

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Echinacea

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We find a lot of fossils here, so I like to incorporate them into the mix.

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More fossils.

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Still more…

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Red curly lettuce.

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Basil.

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Flat leaf parsley.

So yeah, Herb Gardening!  Go tell your friends.

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Why Local Food?

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1.  Protect our Food Supply:

  • The U.S. is growing two food crops for both animals and people: corn and soy.  Remember the Irish Potato Famine?  Being dependent on two crops is dangerous.  Diversity protects against famine caused by crop failure.
  • Foreign imports from China and other countries usually have lower standards than the U.S.
  • Disruption of food supply distribution chains due to terrorist activity.
  • Control in the hands of small farmer and consumer instead of in the hands of huge companies.
  • GMO foods come from conglomerates with an eye to their bottom line rather than to our health.
  • 80% of feedlot beef is controlled by four companies.  Also true for soy.

2.  Reduce oil consumption used to transport food thousands of miles to market.

3.  Supports and strengthen local economies all across the U.S.

4.  Healthier choice:

  • Animals are being fed a diet that is not natural to them.  Cows are grass eaters, but are being fed corn and soy in feedlots.  This diet makes them sick, hence the need for antibiotics.  They are now training farmed salmon to eat corn!  They have to find a use for the overproduction of corn, subsidized by our tax dollars, but destroying the nutrients in our food.
  • We can know more about the farming practices of locally produced food, know how clean, how safe, how animals are cared for, how vegetables are raised.
  • Local foods are fresher, higher in nutrients because they are harvested at peak ripeness for immediate consumption.  Food traveling long distances must be harvested before they are ripe (lower in nutrient value) in order to have any sort of shelf life.
  • Cuts down on the consumption of prepared foods, full of additives, preservatives, and fillers.  Along with the increased consumption of prepared foods go increases in chronic illness not experienced in cultures eating a more traditional diet, even those high in fats (France, Polynesia, Inuits, Masai).  Diabetes has increased 1000% in the last ten years! 1 in 3 of us develops cancer now, and osteoporosis is common.  Learning disabilities and ADHD are rampant, along with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  Whoever heard of these conditions 40 years ago?  We have become a nation with the greatest wealth but with the greatest deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

5.  Environmental issues:

  • Conventional farming is dependent on the use and overuse of chemical fertilizers which deplete the soils and contaminate our streams and rivers.  The Gulf of Mexico now has a huge “dead zone” caused by runoff from farms beginning far to the north and throughout the Midwest.
  • Conventional animal farms pollute groundwater supplies due to huge collections of waste.
  • The self-sustaining family farm of years ago relied on very little from outside, recycling animal waste and composted trimmings from vegetables as fertilizer and soil conditioner.  Crops were rotated, animals moved from pasture to pasture as grasses matured.