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Herbal Issue: Herbs & Growing Your Own
|Stevia and Sugar||The Dandel-Aide Diet|
|Sugar Coating Petals||Parsley Beats Spinach|
From the Editor:
Herbal Gardening Indoors: Design
Growing your own herbs has countless advantages. Affordability, convenience, quality control and personal satisfaction to name a few. Plus, they are natural air purifiers. They make my kitchen smell fantastic! And if I want Peppermint Tea, I grab a few fresh leaves. If I want great salsa, I grab some cilantro. They grow fast, do not worry!
Pick Tasteful Pots. Husbands do not tend to like plants all over the house (I hear a lot about this) and I have to agree I do not like clutter or "restriction of movement." The most tasteful way I think to grow herbs indoors is to use white glazed ceramic pots. Two reasons; you can use a dry erase marker to name the herb and easily wipe it off if you change plants the next season. I would use a black marker and a friend who has better hand writing than myself. You can also use clear labels with a font you like. Second, white ceramic pots gives the designated area a uniform and old fashioned appearance. Growing plants indoors was the pride of our ancestors. "Who" had the best kitchen garden was the measure of class in the1800's. We have great advantages now than our ancestors. Such as better hybrids and water retention beads that absorb up to 400 times their weight in water. Click here for how the water beads work.
The other reason I like white glazed pots, is I am rather sick of "terra cotta." I have so many of those pots, I did some research on if I could repaint the exterior and use them. The interior is great left as is--because clay does absorb water. I find it is doable to treat the exterior of the pot. I also looked for already made simple white glazed pots, to no end, on the net and cannot find them. After exhausting myself I sat back to watch the Food Channel and Barefoot Contessa had them right behind her! All lined up against her kitchen splash boards. That just put salt in the wound.
The supplier is still a mystery. Just after that--I saw what Sandra Lee Considers a "pantry" and I about fainted. That would be my dream pantry, click thumbnail for that. Basically it was an entire room. I will stick with simple issues, such as what is cool to grow in our kitchens. Parsley Rules is an article I wrote about amazing nutritional values and what herbs I aim to grow as winter sets in.
A Case for Growing Your Own Herbs
There has never been a better time to grow or go and pick your own herbs and some veggies. Some families are saving $30,000 a year on doing this alone. They noticed fresh produce alone, was a large part of their budget.
The "Spinach" issue just came out and that is my point exactly. Not long after the Chi Chi's Cilantro issue that wiped a few customers off the map. Why? Hygiene of food handlers, or total lack of, in the growing fields. I notice that story has been covered up pretty well, so we forget. But here is what I did find if you never heard of the Cilantro issue. Washington has a huge commercial food lobbyist that is paid to "tone" these stories down, if not eliminate them. Spinach will be forgotten soon also. My main goal in growing our own high end produce was simply to save money, have fun, and afford "arugula" and those pretty bell peppers where color alone makes them not affordable.
Beyond saving money in this time, ensuring hygiene is best if we grow our own. Regarding simple herbs, as P. Allen Smith brilliantly pointed out, "just freeze extra herbs in ice cube trays for the winter months." I found this is great for everything from adding flavor to soup to adding flavor to a tall glass of iced tea. Homegrown herbs really shine in the kitchen. Fresh herbs, when picked just before you use them, will make you wonder how you ever lived without them. Indoor herb planting is definitely on my agenda as well as planting smart gardens for spring.
You can even make your own fresh herbal tea. When I saw how well Dandelion Leaf tea worked on my water retention, slimming my fingers and such in London, I asked friends up at Cornell University to pick me a bunch. As long as they were not sprayed with anything. It is hard to find the leaf in the States. Many people sell the root and call it "Dandelion" and that is the wrong part of the plant. I asked my buddies to boil them down into a concentrate and freeze them for me. (They were curious if I got a buzz off them or what the deal was.) I did find the actual flower is the "bomb" (best diuretic) but never sold on the general market because it does the "fuzz" thing. If I had them here in FL, I would be using the greens in my salads and such. Now I know why the "Haut Couture" has been eating Dandelion Leaves as salad greens. Well, we can grow our own high end produce. I never understood why a green bell pepper was .70 cents and a pretty orange or red one three times higher anyway. Luckily your seeds do not know that. Joining seed exchanges and finding heirlooms can be quite fun also.
In this economy, I will be encouraging people to over come the "green thumb" issue and start growing what you can. Plus, it is relaxing and liberating. If you already "grow your own" maybe I can inspire you to grow more. The biggest complaint I hear is people being too busy to water. The same material we use to make air gel fresheners is the material used for water retention in gardens. A few years ago--someone "re-purposed them" into the fragrance area. That rather new technology is great. It is a base I use for all gardening and I would not know what to do without them. I do not recall having to water anything since I use them at 50% under the soil. More than that and they "float" up. They hold up to 400% times their weight in water.
Regarding what herbs are most practical and used, I will be learning as I go, have no worry. Basil is a definite in the kitchen. It is beautiful and you cannot kill it. It will grow in roots water. Expect to start seeing inspiring articles to keep it simple and keep us motivated! If I was up north right now, I would be prepping a green house area. Winter does not have to be a total crop wipe out.
Speaking of growing, Kari Pastore, NV, went all out to grow a crop of lavender and at the end of the period, she laughed and said "I now am the proud owner of 1/2 cup of lavender buds." But she was happy and will give it another shot. She thinks she picked the wrong type of lavender to start with. Anything you can make yourself right now, and keep a good stock of, will help your bottom line.
Parsley Beats Spinach Hands Down
Let's see. I promised more on taking control of our kitchens and food. During the spinach crises I had to use parsley in my hot dips, and it tasted just the same. Then I used it in soups and Florentine type dishes. Parsley comes in flat and curly. I used flat for cooking and in salads. I then did some research and saw it whoops Spinach by a huge margin in nutritional values. Why then do us Boomers believe Spinach gives guys big Muscles? Great marketing named Pop Eye. After my research, I decided Pop Eye was nothing but a canned spinach pusher. And I tend to think Olive's role was to make Parsley look "mundane" and meant for ornamental purposes. A different way to market--by undermining one food. Why would commercial guys do that? Because we can grow an herb. Growing spinach is not a lot of fun. If I could, I would quantify Parsley as a vegetable, not just an herb. Parsley also serves as a great anti-inflammatory tea. Spinach cannot even make that claim.
Parsley is cool. So, parsley is my first love to grow in the kitchen, and Basil, (that will even grow in a glass of water) my second. Click here for an article I wrote on Basil. Below is a chart I created, with just a few nutritional comparisons. Parsley contains a load more trace vitamins and minerals than listed here.
I am going to grow at least ten herbs. But I am looking for white clay pots as I am tired of the typical terra cotta. I prefer a more open French country look. I will grow: Basil, Dill, Cilantro, Parsley, Chives, Oregano, Thyme, Mint and Lemongrass to start. (And Catnip to watch my cat go bonkers.) You can use dry erase pens to write the herb name, if you can get white glazed clay pots.
Garden Water Retention Beads
People in part think they do not have a green thumb, because time may not permit the right watering. The beads we sell as "Air Gel Freshener Crystals" are really water retention beads someone clever "re-purposed" several years ago--to make smelly jellies. Regarding growing your own herbs, winter upon us, does not have to mean a total crop wipe out either. The beads check mate any watering issues. Just add sun.
Find some sunny space in the home to create your own little "conservatory." When I am ready to plant anything, I fill up a 1/2 gallon jug with hot water. I then add a teaspoon or two of the crystals. I wait until they are absorbed and then approach plating pots. I fill 1/3 the bottom of each pot with my prepared beads. (This applies to outside gardens also--it works so well I do not recall having to water anything this dry year.)
If you use more than 1/3, the beads will float up through the dirt and that does not look very good.
Harry's Herbal Tea Company
Yep, this is the big surprise! I kept this project so confidential--even my staff e-mailed code name X-files. They have a great sense of humor. Harry's came about during my frustration finding herbal merchants who even knew there was a difference between a root and a leaf. London taught me so well, only U.S. herbalist seem to know what I was talking about. I am not an herbalist, but I do have London's support and they have helped me define the Harry's line and will offer e-mail support for Harry's in the UK.
The point of the line is to drink performance based herbal teas not totally understood here in the States. Maybe in ten years we will start looking to prevention. One example, everyone is on a Green Tea craze, when white tea tastes much better. White Tea is higher in all of the Green Tea healthful properties. So are the Honey Bush and Rooibos, (sweet red teas) from Africa. Beyond tasting better, and higher in healthful attributes than Green Tea, Honey Bush and Roobis have no caffeine. I am starting the line with the best herbal tea first and will add traditional teas later. Harry's will also be a sweet product addition to my customers who have "party sales." Click here to see Harry's and a Grand Opening. Members of Mabel will get 10% off as usual. So, your codes will work.
Stevia and Sugar
Yes, the "S" words. A friend asked me to look into this more when her teenage daughters were bloating from artificial sweeteners. She had seen a segment on Good Morning America. Her girls are now opting for sugar and having no bloating.
The SoHo district of London taught me more about Stevia, a white herb 200 times sweeter than sugar, having no carbs or glycemic value. Just a dust in recipes taste just like sugar. A common condiment in Japan, but dearly protected from us to learn about in the States. In the States Stevia can only be sold as a "nutritional supplement" or perhaps a "flavor" although many Americans are happily putting it right in their food as do the people of the orient on a day to day basis. It can never be sold as a sweetener or major artificial sweetener companies would throw a fit. Not to mention the sugar cane money, who would for once team up with the artificial foes for the unthinkable. A simple herb. If you want to research Stevia, do a Google on "Stevia, too good to be approved."
If we are not made of corn syrup, we are made of aspartame...
Recently, August, 2006, MSBNC comforted the general public that artificial sweeteners "are safe" and do not cause "bloating, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, brain damage, or any other serious disease." As it is they cannot profit from alcohol or tobacco. Why does thou endorse too much? My opinion is huge TV advertising dollars with a "client" that is one of the few making a profit in this economy. Since when does a reporter personally endorse a medical position? Reporter's are supposed to be "fair, balanced, and impartial." Could MSNBC be doing a "pre-damage control campaign" for the artificial money? Just my personal opinion.
Risking serious advertising
dollars TIME Magazine, August 2006 wrote about aspartame: "How
Sweet it Isn't." In quote they
say "It's also unclear whether switching to artificial sweeteners
helps you lose weight, though a glance at our collective potbelly
suggests that it doesn't. ..." And TIME does not stand alone
with the question raised. ABC News, Good Morning America is
stepping up to bat "Artificial
Sweeteners, Are They Safe? as well as
Live making similar observations. With any luck, someday they will
go to bat for Stevia.
Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan is a great read. Pollan basically discusses Americans are made up of corn in one way or the other. Corn is in almost everything we consume, and most of all, it's cousin--high fructose corn syrup. Forget "Children of the Corn..." we are walking corn stalks, as I interpreted Michael's book. Michael has been featured on the Evening News with Jon Stewart. Although a satire news cast, I feel one of the highest credible sources up there with TIME Magazine, and Dr. House!