Botanical name: aloe vera Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is hardy outdoors only in very warm climates. It is also called ‘burn plant’ due to its healing properties. Aloe thrives on lots of light and neglect. Keep it in a sunny window indoors and water only occasionally, when it is totally dry. The juice and gel from aloe vera helps heal mild burns and scratches. It is also a good moisturizer, and is sometimes used medicinally as a natural stool softener.
Botanical name: Eruca sativa Arugula is also called ‘salad rocket’ or ‘roquette’. It is an annual herb that thrives in cooler weather. In central North Carolina, arugula should be planted in late winter, and can be harvested until mid-June to early July. It can be planted again in late September and harvested until a hard freeze kills the plants. Arugula is a great salad green with a nutty flavor that can be eaten alone or mixed with other greens. Try placing some arugula leaves on a pizza as you take it from the oven for a new taste treat. Or, try arugula sandwiches for your next luncheon or tea.Arugula Sandwiches
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 large bunch arugula leaves
1 TBSP chopped Italian parsley
14 – 16 slices bread, crusts removed (we like plain white sandwich bread for these sandwiches)
Salt and pepper
Place cream cheese, parsley, and about ¼ of the bunch of arugula leaves in food processor and pulse until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the cream cheese mixture on half of the slices of bread. Top the cream cheese mixture with arugula leaves and the other slices of bread to assemble the sandwiches. Cut sandwiches into quarters and place on serving platter. Makes about 30 ¼ size sandwiches.
Basil is a fragrant annual most well known for its use in Italian dishes. The whole plant has a variety of uses other than flavoring spaghetti sauce, though. Basil is warming, lowers fevers, calms muscle spasms, improves digestion, and possesses anti-bacterial properties. In cooking, basil is used primarily with tomatoes and pasta, but it is also excellent with beans, peppers, eggplant, other vegetables, soups, omelets, duck, chicken, beef, and pork. The oil of basil is used in perfumes and aromatherapy blends. Medicinally, basil is used internally to reduce fevers, enhance poor digestion, relieve nausea and cramps, ease migraines, and to lift the spirits. Externally, basil is used for acne, insect bites, and skin infections.
Most basils are easily propagated by seeds. Varieties such as Greek column basil and African blue basil must be propagated by taking cuttings. Wait to plant basil outdoors until night-time temperatures are consistently above 45°F. Basils grow best in sunny, well-drained locations with alkaline soil. Pinch out the growing tips of basil plants to make them fuller and delay flowering. Basils are said to be good companion plants to tomatoes and potatoes as they are credited with repelling aphids, asparagus beetles, mites, and tomato hornworms. Basils are a favorite of slugs, white flies, and spider mites, though. Check plants regularly for signs of infestation. If caught early, basil plants may be treated with insecticidal soap to rid them of pests.
Basil leaves may be harvested until fall. Leaves dry easily and can be stored in jars or zip-loc bags for later use. Or, just make big batches of pesto sauce and freeze them in ice cubes. The color will darken, but will not affect the flavor. One pesto cube makes one serving with plain pasta. Or, a couple cubes dropped into the sauce pot seasons tomato sauce perfectly.
Pack food processor bowl with fresh basil leaves that have been rinsed and patted dry.
|Basil African Blue
African Blue Basil is one of the hardier basil varieties. It can be a perennial in very warm climates (think southern Florida). With its blue/purple tinted leaves and light purple flowers, it is an excellent bee plant for the garden. Be sure to give African Blue Basil plenty of room to grow, too. It can reach heights of 3 feet and widths of 5 feet and loves sun. The flavor is very sweet and delicate and goes away with cooking. African Blue Basil is best used by adding it to the dish just before serving. Try shredding African Blue Basil leaves and topping your favorite cream sauce or mix its flowers in oil and vinegar to make a salad dressing.
|Basil Crimson King
Crimson King Basil is an excellent red colored basil. It is very sweet, and makes a pretty pesto, when substituted for Italian Basil. It’s flavor is best when used as a finishing herb and added at the end of cooking time, or if shredded and stirred in as you remove your sauce from the heat of the stove. Crimson King Basil makes a great addition to a mixed green salad or tomato salad, and turns alfredo sauce light pink.
|Basil Greek Columnar
Greek Columnar Basil is a green basil with a very upright habit and small leaves when compared to Italian Basil. It has a slightly spicy flavor, reminiscent of cinnamon, and is an excellent addition to Mediterranean dishes. Its upright habit makes it an excellent choice for patio and window gardens.
|Basil Green Sacred
Botanical name: Ocimum tenuiflorum
Green Sacred Basil is grown in houses, gardens and near temples all over India. It has a mildly intoxicating clove-like aroma. Fresh leaves are used in salads and other cold dishes. It can also be dried and used as a tea.
Italian Basil is the most common basil, and is also referred to as Sweet Basil. It is the most utilized variety of basil, and is often called the tomato herb. Italian Basil likes full sun, and is a great companion plant for tomatoes. Check out the general listing for Basil above to learn more.
|Basil Mrs. Burns’ Lemon
Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil is a delicate light green basil with a very strong lemon flavor. It is a lovely, aromatic addition to any herb garden, and loves full sun. Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil is excellent used fresh in salads and cold dishes. It is a wonderful accompaniment to chicken and fish. Try adding a Tablespoon of chopped Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil to your favorite sugar cookie or pound cake recipe. Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil can also be dried to use in teas and potpourri.
|Basil Thai Siam QueenThai Basil Siam Queen is the basil to use for flavoring Thai food. It has narrow, dark green, pointed leaves and a spicy aroma and flavor. Just like the other varieties of basil, Thai Basil Siam Queen loves sun.Curry Chicken with Thai Basil
1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
Dice the onion and bell pepper and sauté in oil until soft. Cut the chicken breasts into bite size cubes and add to skillet. Saute until tender. Add chicken stock, curry powder, and Thai Basil leaves. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta. Makes 3 to 4 servings.
|Basil ValentinoValentino Basil is a sweet basil that has large, bright green, heart-shaped leaves. Valentino Basil makes good pesto, and is excellent used like lettuce with tomato in sandwiches. It is a wonderful companion plant to tomatoes and loves sun. Try this recipe for a great light lunch:Valentino Basil and Tomato Sandwiches
French Bread or Sub Rolls
Botanical name: Foeniculum vulgareThis perennial variety of sweet fennel has a licorice-like flavor and can be used in a multitude of recipes. Leaves also make a great addition to mixed green salads. They are also great with fish. Try stuffing a whole trout with fennel leaves, sautéed celery and onion. Place lemon slices on top of the trout and broil or grill. Seeds can be saved to use in sausages and other dishes. Bronze Fennel is hardy to Zone 5 and likes full sun to part shade. Bronze Fennel is also a wonderful host plant to anise swallowtail and Eastern black swallowtail butterflies. The butterflies lay their eggs on the fennel leaves, and their caterpillars feed on the fennel leaves until they are ready to build their cocoons.
Botanical name: Buddleia davidiiWe are currently growing a mixed variety and Miss Butterfly, a lavender variety of Butterfly Bushes. The mixed variety has one of 3 colors of bloom per plant: dark blue, red, or white. It is a hardy, deciduous shrubby plant that can reach heights of 10 feet and widths of 8 feet. True to its common name, the butterfly bush attracts butterflies and other pollinators to the garden. Butterfly bushes are drought tolerant and can grow in full sun to partial shade.
Botanical name: Asclepias tuberosaButterflyWeed is also known as pleurisy root because it once was used medicinally to treat pleurisy. A native plant to the United States, this perennial member of the milkweed family grows well in loamy soil and is tolerant to drought conditions. It loves sun to partial shade, grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet, blooms from late summer to early fall, and attracts a variety of butterflies, bees, and other garden pollinators. The blooms range from yellow to dark orange. Take care when working around Butterfly Weed, as the thick, milky sap can be a skin irritant.
Botanical name: Avena sativaThis annual grass is usually grown indoors in pots for house cats to graze. There’s no proof that this grass is essential or helpful to cats’ diets, but by offering them their own “gardens” to dine on, they’ll be less likely to eat your other houseplants. Place Cat Grass in a sunny windowsill and water it whenever it begins to dry out. Keep several pots on hand so as one gets nibbled down, you can offer another.
Botanical name: Nepeta catariaYour cat sniffs the rug, shakes its head, then rubs its chin and cheeks on the carpet. Purring, it flops to the floor and rolls its body in figure eights. Springing to her feet, it dashes across the room, chasing an imaginary mouse. Has your cat gone crazy? No, it’s just that old catnip magic at work!Reactions to catnip range from excitement to relaxation to anxiety. No two cats react in the same way. When the substance’s scent is released, it triggers a pleasure center in the cat’s brain. This chemical is what gives mature cats their catnip “high.” Some cats roll, some nudge, some mellow out, some become hyper and some are irritable. A normally placid cat may even suddenly become aggressive with other cats. It may also stimulate the appetite or even reduce anxiety in some cats as it can have a calming effect.Catnip can also be used by people as a calming tea. It helps induce sleep and has been used to treat colds and fevers.Some people swear that catnip is also a deer repellent plant. It should be planted along the edges of gardens that you don’t want the deer to walk through.Catnip loves sun and poor soil, and is a perennial in Central North Carolina. It has a low growth habit, and spreads a little, making it a good border plant.Catnip can be used fresh or dried. To make a quick cat toy, just put some catnip leaves in the toe of a sock and tie the top of the sock in a knot and give it to your favorite feline.
Echinacea White Swan
|FeverfewBotanical name: Tanacetum parthenium Perennial medicinal herb hardy to USDA zone 5 that loves sun, reaches a height of up to 24″, and has small daisy-like flowers. Plant feverfew plants outdoors in the spring. Harvest leaves and flowers throughout the summer. Cut plant to the ground in the fall and mulch well to help it winter over. The word “feverfew” comes from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer.” The leaves are often ingested fresh for the treatment of headaches and other minor pains and inflammation. The flavor is bitter and reminiscent of aspirin. As it can cause mouth ulcers and swelling and numbness of the mouth when chewed, it is best to roll feverfew leaves into a small capsule and swallow them.Suddenly discontinuing use of feverfew after long-term use may illicit a withdrawal syndrome featuring rebound headaches and muscle and joint pains. Feverfew can also cause allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis. Other side effects are similar to those of aspirin sensitivity, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and flatulence.Feverfew should not be taken by pregnant women, may increase the risk of bleeding when taking prescription blood thinners, and may also interact with medications metabolized by the liver.
|French Marigold Little Hero Yellow|
|French Marigold Safari Bolero|
|French Marigold Safari Red|
|French Marigold Safari Yellow Fire|
|Greek Mountain Tea|
|Mint Chinese Black Peppermint|
|Mint Kentucky Colonel Spearmint|
|Nasturtium Whirly bird|
|Parsley Italian Plain leaf|
|Plectranthus Cuban Oregano|
|Plectranthus Puerto Rican Oregano
RosemaryBotanical name: rosmarinus officinalisOne of the world’s most popular herbs. It enjoys a variety of uses, both culinary and medicinal. The leaves of the plant contain volatile oils, flavinoids, and phenolic acids such as rosmarinic acid and diosmin. Rosemary is very aromatic and can be used for colds, flu, to relieve pain, and even depression. Rosemary is an excellent compliment to lamb, chicken, venison, potatoes, and wine.Rosemary has a reputation for strengthening the memory that dates back to Ancient times. Greek scholars would wear wreaths of rosemary on their heads to aid the memory. Perhaps this is how rosemary has become known as the herb of remembrance and an emblem of fidelity for lovers. Brides would wear rosemary in their hair and give gilded sprigs of rosemary as gifts to their wedding guests. Rosemary was also placed in the caskets of the deceased as a symbol of remembrance.Native to dry, mainly coastal areas around the Mediterranean, rosemary gets its name from the Latin for “dew of the sea.” The sporadic flowers resemble dewdrops when observed from a distance. Rosemary is a member of the labiatae, or mint family. Other well-known members of this fragrant plant family include: basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, oregano, and peppermint. Rosemary is a hardy, upright evergreen shrub with delicate flowers that bloom sporadically in late spring and sometimes a second time in late summer. Most varieties of rosemary produce blue flowers, but there are also white and pink varieties. Rosemary grows best in a sunny, well-drained location. It should be sheltered from the coldest winds during the winter, and should receive moderate air circulation, particularly in more humid climates. It is more fragrant when grown in limy soil, but doesn’t grow as large as it will when planted in more arid soil.Rosemary should be planted in a sunny location. The soil should be very well-drained, as rosemary plants do not thrive if the roots are constantly wet. A raised bed on the sunny side of a brick wall is perfect for rosemary. To assure that the soil is well-drained and to allow for proper root growth of your rosemary plant, dig a hole about 2 times the depth and width of the plant’s root ball. Add organic matter and 1 to 2 tablespoons of pulverized lime to the hole before planting the rosemary plant. Make sure the plant is not planted any deeper than it was when it was in the pot to prevent stem rot and disease. Feed the newly planted rosemary with a balanced fertilizer and apply a thin layer of mulch to the top of the soil. Once the rosemary plant has “settled” into its new home, it will only need to be fertilized each spring and fall with a balanced fertilizer and 1 to 2 tablespoons of pulverized lime. Rosemary plants in the garden should never be crowded with other plants. There should be ample space around each plant to allow for air to circulate freely. This prevents excess moisture accumulating around plant roots and on leaves, thus preventing formation of mold and disease.For an easy rosemary appetizer, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves to 8 ounces of cream cheese. Mix thoroughly and let rest in the refrigerator for several hours. Form into a mound in the center of serving tray. Make a small indentation in the top of the cheese mixture and fill with caviar or your choice. Surround the cheese and caviar mixture with crackers or melba toast pieces and garnish with a sprig or two of rosemary.For roasted rosemary potatoes, add 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil. Let rest for several hours. Wash and cut 1 pound small red potatoes into quarters. Coat the potatoes with the rosemary oil and spread them on a baking sheet. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes. Bake in a 375° oven 30 to 45 minutes, or until the potato skins are crisp and the potatoes are fork tender. Rosemary roasted potatoes make a great accompaniment to roast lamb, pork, beef, or chicken.
Skewered Rosemary Chicken
1 cup white vinegar
*To make rosemary skewers, strip the leaves from stout, woody branches of a well-established rosemary plant. Cut one end at an angle to form a sharp point. To make skewering meat easier, first pierce meat with an ice pick before threading onto bamboo or rosemary skewers.
|Sage Mexican Bush|
Scented Geranium Old Fashioned Rose
Scented Geranium Citronella
|Thyme Mother of Thyme|