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Growing Herbs for Soothing Teas

July 19th, 2010

I’m a big fan of hot beverages, even in the summer. Most of the time you’ll find me with a cup of coffee or hot tea, especially during those cold winter months here in NE Ohio. When it comes to tea, I usually prefer herbal teas of all kinds over black tea. I like black tea iced, but not particularly served hot. As I’ve gotten more and more into gardening and growing more of my food, naturally I started growing some of my own herbs for tea. One of my favorite herbal teas is chamomile, it’s particularly good in the evenings since it’s soothing and calming (especially for people like me with slight insomniac tendencies). It’s also a wonderful herb for aiding in digestion, nothing cures stomach duress like a nice warm cup of chamomile ginger tea.

Last year my chamomile didn’t germinate well, and I ended up with one one small plant. It produced a nice crop of flowers, but not nearly enough for the amount of tea I drink in a year’s time. I had a quarter cup or less of dried blossoms by the end of the year. This year I decided I’d grow as much as I could, and boy to I have a crop of chamomile! I’ve been faithfully harvesting it every couple days, drying it on a plate in the attic and storing it in a jar. Happily I’ve been watching the quart jar fill up knowing that I’ll have plenty to get me through the coming winter. I may be able to drink chamomile tea every night before bed.

I still have a ton of chamomile blooming in the garden, so I’ll keep harvesting. I may be able to get an extra pint of dried blossoms. The extra will be used for watering my seedlings in the spring. I’ve read it’s particularly good at helping with fungal diseases and dampening off. I’ll make sure to keep you posted on this experiment come seed starting season. In the coming years I’ll be adding more and more tea herbs to my garden as I expand my flowerbeds and get rid of plants that don’t thrive. I haven’t decided which ones to add next, but I’m sure I’ll find some good ones from Richter’s. I’ve also been experimenting with growing tropical herbs in pots as houseplants. Currently I’m starting ginger and lemongrass (more on that later).

Are you a hot or a cold beverage person?

Time to Stock the Herb Pantry

June 2nd, 2010

It’s that time of the year to start think about harvesting and drying herbs for your spice rack. If you’re trying to eat healthier adding herbs and spices to your food is a great way to do this. Many herbs and spices contain more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

Last year I waiting until late in the fall to harvest my herbs, but it’s really something that you should be doing all summer long. Herbs are at their peak of flavor and nutrition right before they bloom. This past week I noticed that my oregano patch was perfect for harvest. This past winter I ran out of oregano because I didn’t harvest and dry quite enough. Since oregano is one of my favorite herbs to use in the kitchen, I’ll harvest a few times to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

When I harvest herbs I usually cut sprigs that are about 6-10 inches long and I tie them into bundles. I hang these bundles in our warm attic for a week or two until they’re dry, then I store the herbs in glass jars.

Oregano is like a wonderherb. It’s full of powerful antioxidants and all kinds of goodness. I like to drink oregano tea or add lots of it to tomato soup when I’m feeling a cold coming on, it often clears it right up. I won’t repeat all the benefits here, read this or this for more info.

Do you dry homegrown herbs for your pantry?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.