The focus herb this month is parsley. Such a versatile herb and much easier to grow than most people think. If you remember that it's a biennial herb (grows leaves and puts down roots in year one to flower in year two) you'll understand that it has plenty of time to germinate. The problem is, we want the leaves, not the flowers, so we're impatient!
How to dry parsley is one of the most frequently asked questions in my mail.
You can do it in the microwave and the instructions for that are here. A word of caution - one lady reported to me that her parsley had caught alight, so do watch it carefully.
The other methods of preserving herbs are here - most methods are suitable for most herbs. Freezing parsley, oven drying, sauces, jellies, oil and butters.
The health benefits of parsley will amaze you.
It is full of vitamins and minerals.
Go to Sara's JuicingForHealth site to find out the more than 15 benefits, why it is so good for you and how to get it into your diet regularly.
You'll love her site - isn't she gorgeous?
It's full of excellent tips for juicing and the amazing benefits you can get from the right mixture of foods.
When you're planning your herb garden, you should try to get some evergreen herbs in there to give it a framework and not look so bare over the winter.
They are popular, main stream herbs that have not only culinary uses, but fabulous health and cosmetic uses too.
Can you guess before you look? There are 6 plus two that normally grow through the winter. Click the photo.
This excellent article from GrannyMiller.com with step by step photos tells you how to propagate by cuttings. Many herbs are suitable for this method as are hundreds of shrubs. It's a great way to get plants for free. You can take them from friends (with permission of course) take a few from the local park or hedgerows. Take a plastic bag with you and don't stay out too long!
There's a sure fire tip which I am going to try next time I take cuttings instead of using hormone rooting powder.
The season (Northern Hemisphere) is May to September, so read about it now and start soon :-)
Click on the photo - OK, now for two months, this link has been 'dead' as in, it goes nowhere, the page and website no longer exist.
So, I'll tell you that her tip is to dip the ends in honey, yes, just honey.
Taking cuttings is simple - cut just below a leaf node, where the growth hormone is concentrated, dip in honey, pop into rooting compost or dirt and then cover with the plastic bottles or similar as you can see in the photo. When there's signs of growth, remove the covers and let the plant grow on.
I'll keep checking back with GrannyMiller as it was a lovely site and I think you'd like it, but for now, I hope that you will get the general drift as to what to do.
I have been frequently asked if there are any herbal remedy courses that are suitable for beginners. It is so hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff - people who offer courses can be well meaning but misinformed or just plain ignorant and not willing to learn.
I did some research and last year, I took the Introductory Herbal Course from the Herbal Academy of New England. I've been using herbs for decades, but really enjoyed this introductory level course - it flows quite nicely through the basics.
At the end of each module, you have an online test to pass before you can go to the next module. Don't worry, you can take it as many times as you like and make a note of the ones you got wrong to find out what you've misunderstood.
There are loads of combinations of courses to take - they do packages for everything up to Professional courses, but if you just want one or two of them, then that's OK too.
This is not a very cheap course, but it is a SERIOUS course. You will save yourself loads of money over the years making your own remedies and cosmetics, knowing the quality of the products you're using. I mean, look at Johnson and Johnson this month - cancer causing properties in baby shampoo and powder? For goodness sake!
If you spend around $20 a month on cosmetics, cleaning materials and pharmaceuticals, you will still be better off at the end of year one and you would know exactly what you were giving yourself and your family.
Herbs and seafood are a natural combination.
The list below is not exhaustive, but they are the main herbs that you will find easily and will go with a lot of different dishes.
The recipes on the page (linked from the photo) are extremely varied and you'll be able to mix and match fish and herbs for an endless supply of recipes.
Max from Kvaliood.com shows you how to make this super easy parsley sauce.
The recipe is on his website Béchamel Sauce Recipe
This steak and Chimichurri Sauce is a classic use of parsley.
The flavour is best if you don't use the blender on the onions, but just chop them finely.
I don't know why this is, but it just is :-)
The sauce can be used on any meat - it's an Argentinian sauce and so naturally, steak is its traditional companion.
Recipe is at SkinnyTaste.com
Parsley tea is a very refreshing drink.
It's a diuretic and an emmenagogue in larger quantities.
Quick to make - click on the photo to see the instructions.
There's a very short video which I have recorded - a bit primitive as it was one of my first!
I keep seeing these recipes for whole roasted cauliflower and think that I really should try that - well, here's the perfect one from KaraCarerro.com
It is the most gorgeous flavour once roasted - there's a sort of nuttiness that comes through.
Give it a go - click on the photo.
Wow! Just look at these insect hotels.
We need insects, lacewings, ladybugs, bees and all their creepy crawly relatives to pollinate our crops - without them, our gardens would be a very sad affair.
Insects need somewhere to go - they'll make their homes during the summer months and overwinter in these structures.
It can be as simple as a few canes in a tube, a masonry brick with holes or some wood with holes drilled in OR it can be a massive affair like the gorgeous structure at the top of the photo!
There are some fabulous ones you can buy (I bought my daughter in law one for a birthday present - she adores ladybugs) if you don't have the time or materials to make one yourself.
Insect Hotels for Sale - click on the flag.
This is a list produced by Meagan who is a wife, mother, registered nurse and herbalist.
It's terribly difficult to treat newborns but there's help here for tummy problems, diaper rash, cradle cap, thrush and many others.
GrowingUpHerbal.com has tons of help and advice for the whole family.
What a really neat idea for the kids to have a go at - I've not tried it, but I'm sure it would work!
I would say 'check for bugs before you do this' - so, if you give the herbs a shake and a quick once-over first, you'll save yourself a lot of grief ;-)
I love making natural products but the one thing that annoys me is needing an enormous list of ingredients and being left with part packets that I won't use before they go out of date.
This homemade lotion uses essential oils (optional) coconut and olive oil plus beeswax. Beeswax is probably the only thing you won't have in your house already. You can buy it easily via Amazon if you don't have a local supplier and it will be with you within days.
You can also use it to make the furniture polish featured in Issue #3
Beeswax doesn't seem to have a best before date - twenty years or longer has been quoted and beeswax candles were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen which had not 'gone off' - that's OLD!
So, this is one product that you'll be safe in buying, knowing that you can use a few tablespoons of it, store it in your cupboard and be able to use it again next year if you want to.
The recipe from WellnessMama will be one you can use over and over. It will last about six months, but this quantity will be used in less time.
Give it a go!
These Mint Parsley and Buckwheat dog biscuits will be just the thing for your fur baby.
Freshen their breath as well due to the mint.
LolaThePitty has dozens of homemade dog treat recipes - this is just one of them.
Pop across and check her out.
Thank you for reading The Herb Guide Monthly - this is Issue #5. The next issue will have a focus on mosquitos and other bugs and what you can do to prevent getting bitten like crazy during the warmer weather.
Be sure to register to receive the magazine - it's free and always will be :-) - either use the green box which is around the site to get your free eCourse as well or just drop me a line in the Contact box below and I'll add you.The Herb Guide Herb Guide News Herb Guide News Issue #5