Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 Hard to Kill Perennial Garden Herbs and Plants

The gardening season is getting closer to the end for this year in northern NJ, but that isn't stopping the heartier plants in my garden from growing, particularly when you consider how dry it has been this year. Today I want to share with you a list of plants and herbs in my garden that come up faithfully year after year, and are hard to kill.  If there is a blog post with more information about the plants, such as how to grow or medicinal properties if they are herbs, you can get to it by clicking your mouse on the name of the herb or plant:

  1. Sage - This is a perennial, that means that you plant it once, and it comes up each year.  In fact, in spite of the cold, when I remove the pile of leaves I have over this, most of the leaves from last season were still on the plant...and this is after a COLD winter.  You do have to replace this one as over time it gets "woody", I tend to cut it back quite a bit for as long as I can and see if it will put out new shoots.  This is a wonderful medicinal AND culinary herb. Pictured above is the sage in my garden.

  2. Lily of the Valley - This comes up every spring and usually blooms in May where we live. I have both the white and pink variety, which is somewhat less common than the white, so each year I sell batches of it on eBay in the spring to thin it down to the nice patch you'll see in the picture if you visit the link.  It will be interesting to see how it has spread it's runners over the winter and how many plants will be available to sell.  I love this plant, the smell of the flowers is just wonderful. There is more information about Pink Lily of the Valley here.

  3. Day Lilies (Daylilies) - In our front yard the shaft to our
    water well comes up out of the ground and is capped, around it I have planted Daylilies, the double orange variety that you see pictured here, and made a garden in the area.  These bloom in June or early July in the summer, and are just beautiful.

  4. Comfrey - This one grows in the same garden as the Daylilies, and can become rather large and shrub-like.  It has pretty purple flowers.  It has the reputation for being a hard one to get rid of if you don't want it somewhere, because even the smallest piece of a root left behind will form a new plant.  I chose to put the Comfrey in the same garden as the Daylilies because the soil is not the best and it takes a bit of work to take over the garden, so I haven't had a lot of trouble. 

  5. Oregano - This favorite culinary herb is so easy to grow, and I have an abundance of it each year.  I do snip the ends to keep it from flowering for part of the summer, then later in the summer, let it go to flower as the bees just love the flowers, and happy bees are so good for my garden as well as surrounding gardens.

  6. Mints - The mint plants are best put in a somewhat contained area, I let them spread and just pull up and use or give away what wanders out of the area it should be in the spring.  I love putting mint into my iced tea while brewing...just clean it well (small bugs like my mint too), then roll the leaves on the stem together between your palms (hands) to release the fragrant and flavorful oils, then put in your steeping tea. I sweeten mine with another herb called Stevia

  7. Catnip - Catnip is like Oregano and Mint...in fact all of these plants are "related", part of the same family, so have similar growing patterns.

  8. Lemon Balm - Another like the above, I have had these coming up in my garden for so many years now I've lost count. It has a hint of lemon scent and flavor in the leaves.

  9. Chives - A wonderful culinary herb to add onion flavor to anything.  I use the greens throughout the spring and summer.  Here's a minor caution for you, each year mine gets pretty purple flowers on it.  My first year with the plants, I clipped the flower tops off when they died, then clipped a bunch of the chives to take in to cut into my salad...not realizing that the flower stems are terribly hard, and inedible.  Be sure when you remove the flowers to take them from the base of the stem so you don't make the same mistake.

  10. Strawberries - I have these in an old antique ceramic-coated wash basin on our deck.  These amazing plants had leaves from last season that remained for much of the winter, and are already putting out their new leaves.  Very hearty, and I look forward to a better crop of berries as we have more sun on the deck since they removed a couple of trees to install our new septic system.
These are just a few of the things that grow on my property, maybe you can share some of your favorites in a comment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Can You Find the Four Leaf Clover?

An almost wordless Wednesday post - can you find the Four Leaf Clovers in the image below? 

I found more than one. 

Image from Pixabay

For more about growing Shamrocks, and Shamrocks vs. Clovers and more, visit How to Grow the Shamrock Plant - Bulbs vs. Seeds.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Licorice Root - Use Glycyrrhiza glabra with Caution

One of the harder lessons I learned in my early days of suggesting herbs for medicinal use was with a dear lady that had her blood pressure under control. She had asked me to get something for her that I had used successfully for a health problem, and I did. 

One of the herbal ingredients in the list of herbs in this formula was Licorice Root. I did not know at the time that it could increase blood pressure in some people, especially those who already are dealing with high blood pressure, and this is just what happened to this poor woman. This was many years ago, and thankfully, she was a kind and forgiving person, but I learned a great lesson that day, which lead me to do more research and gain more knowledge about what I was sharing.

Some say that if you need to use Licorice Root, you should be taking Potassium with it if blood pressure is a concern. All of this should be discussed with your health care provider, especially if you are on medications for blood pressure.  Generally this is used to support the glandular system, I was taking it for a while myself to support my adrenal glands, but would not take it at present as my blood pressure is inclined toward being high.  It is generally a tonic herb, good for many things.

If you would like a fact sheet about any of the items marked in red, please contact me using the comment form, and I will send one, and will not publish such a comment...all comments are moderated. I will need an email to send it to, and will not abuse the email by adding it to a mailing list.

Image Credit: Wikipedia and Gardenology.org.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Spirulina - Herb from the Water

This may not be something you'll grow in your herb garden this year, in fact, it's not necessarily an herb...but it's green and it grows, so it has my attention. It's nutritional qualities are well known by many. The picture is not an attractive one, it looks like little worms or parasites, doesn't it? But they are algae strands, and by looking at the spiral shape, you can see why this algae is called "Spirulina".

Spirulina is a blue-green algae, long before a company decided to make blue-green algae their primary product, I was taking the powder in capsule form. It contains the complete spectrum of 8 amino acids, is high in protein, chlorophyll, and beneficial minerals. There are very few "plant" sources for vitamin B12, and Spirulina is one of them. I still use a liquid B12 as sources I've read show there are still concerns as to the the bodies ability to use the B12 in Spirulina...it's "bio-availability" is in question.

Some like to take Spirulina before their meals, and feel that is suppresses the appetite. It is so rich in protein and nutrients, that it may satisfy cravings for certain foods so that you are not inclined to eat as much.

Though Spirulina grows naturally, it is also cultivated in the waters of warmer climates.

Spirulina Image Credit: Wikipedia