Monday, May 10, 2010

Herb? He's good people.

Sorry I have been gone, I am still waiting for my charger to come in the mail. Till then I am using my old laptop which I dislike very much. Uggg

As most of you know I have been working on my garden and yard. It has kept me pretty busy these last few weeks which means less time for my blog. Sorry guys! But most of the work is done and now I have more time. This year I planned my garden down on paper and did more research so I could take advantage of the tiny space I do have to the fullest. I think this year is going to be more productive year. I really want to have herbs that would beneficial to our life. I really wanted to have herbs to use for homemade tea, and also herbs we could use for ailments. I really was amazed how many herbs you can use. There are so many to share with you but I think I will just share 2 at a time. So here we go!

Mints are herbaceous perennials that thrive in most locations. Mint is a rampant spreader so they grow really nice in a container, flower bed, or the green space along sidewalks. Mint has beautiful tiny purple or pink blossoms in whorls on spikes along the stems.
Just before blooming, cut the stalks and hang in bunches to dry;store in air tight containers. Leaves can be frozen or infused with oil or vinegar. I use my dehydrator to dry my mint. I simply pick new leaves and lay on the trays. Only takes an hour or so for my dehydrator to dry them. I put them into mason jars and enjoy mint tea all year round. My children love picking the leaves, squeezing them in their hands and putting the leaves into a glass of cold water. Mint water is their favorite.
Culinary Uses
Leaves can be used to accompany lamb, added to salads;used to flavor sausages, meat dishes, tomatoes and fruit salads.  Mint is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.  Also used in tea's and ice drinks.  Anytime one of my family members get a cold and cough, I make mint tea from last years crop. I add a tsp of honey and we drink it hot as possible. I think its better than any cough drop. Especially good to have a cup of hot mint tea before bedtime.
Medical Uses
Peppermint is used for indigestion, colic, colds, excess mucus and nausea.  Mint is also used to treat skin irritations, upper respiratory tract infections, minor burns, ringworm and sinusitis.  Peppermint and eau-de-cologne mint oils are used in oral hygiene preparations, antacids, toiletries, candy, chewing gum, ice cream and liqueurs.

Lemon Balm 
Lemon balm is one of my favorite herbs for a few reasons. My favorite is how aromatic it is. Last year I bought  3 inch pot starts and now they are 2 ft high. One small plant will do you for sure. This herb will need to be planted in a pot, flower bed or green space along the sidewalk. It will take over if you do not watch it.
I also am in love with how beaituful this plant is. Such a bright beautiful green and its leaves are so shiny. Love it! Summer to Autumn mint will have a two-lipped pale yellowish green through to white tubular blossoms in bunches in the leaf axils.
Harvesting and storing
Collect leaves in summer, use fresh, or dry quickly to prevent from turning black.  Their flavor is best when the flowers begin to open. Cut the entire plant leaving 2 inches of stem. Hang in bunches upside down to dry or you can use a dehydrator to dry them. Store in airtight container.
Special tip
Lemon balm is used to repel insect pest. Lemon balm in pots are a great addition to any patio to keep insects away or you can also keep potted lemon balm in your garden to keep insects from eating at your garden.
Culinary Uses
Fresh leaves with a lemon flavor can be added to salads, soups, herb vinegar, game and fish.  Add to fruit salads, custards, and fruit drinks.  Infuse fresh leaves for tea.
Medicinal Uses
For indigestion, depression, headaches, insect bites, herpes, feverish colds and gout. It is also a sedative.

My goal this year is to not use any medication if I can help it. I would love to just go all natural with any ailment we might have. With all these recalls on medicines, I honestly do not trust medicines anymore. Obviously if we have any major problems we will always call our doctor or 911. My children will also get fever medicines because I do not want them to suffer but as for myself its all natural.

My favorite thing to do with both these herbs is to use it as a air freshener. Take your herb of choice and bundle it with string. Simply squeeze it a few times which will wrinkle the leaves which will release the oils from the leaves. Then simply put in front of a fan or near a window. We have vents on the floor so I just lay a bundle on the vent. This will blow the oil scent all over your home. I love this and do it any chance I can get. 

What about you? You have any creative uses for lemon balm or mint?

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