(the above image was forwarded by the Paul Parent Garden Club)
Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club (http://www.paulparent.com/) sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website (http://www.paulparent.com/) to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM.
Here is some of what Paul had to say this past week:
Growing herbs can be as simple as planting a few seeds in a pot of soil, right now! All you need is a sunny or brightly lit window to grow the secret ingredients for the winter salad or special pasta sauce.
Herbs love the sunlight and the warmer the sun is, the better they love it. Just think of the fragrance of a new pot of basil, chives or parsley will give your kitchen window. Crush the leaves with your fingers, roll the foliage in the palm of your hand and place it into a fresh bowl of salad greens. Your family will ask you what you did differently to the salad--and believe me it's not the taste of the tomatoes during the winter! Herbs are easy to grow and will do better if you don't put a lot of time with them. Water, fertilize and pick often to encourage new growth. After all, the new growth has more fragrance and taste than older growth.
Your local garden center has now received its new seeds for the spring. So get out of the house, brave the cold and select some herb seeds to grow in your kitchen. All you need are 4 inch plastic pots, fresh potting soil and a little love. Most herbs will germinate in 7 to 14 days if kept warm after planting. I start mine on top of the refrigerator because of the heat on top and because there are no cold drafts up there to cool the soil. Once they germinate, move them to the windowsill. If your windowsill is warm, you can start them right there! I also cover the pots with Press and Seal plastic until they germinate, as this keeps the moisture and humidity in the soil. Jiffy products also makes a small windowsill greenhouse, which is a solid container to hold the soil and a clear dome to hold the moisture in. Just transplant to pots when large enough or start seeds in a Jiffy 7 pellets for easy transplanting to pots.
Growing herbs from seed will change your outlook and your relationship with the plants. The flavor you grew did not come from a bottle; it came from your enjoyment of inviting mother nature into your home this winter to grow the plants. So get out the bottle of seasoning you use most and read what it contains for herbs--then grow your own ingredients. Just use a few seeds now and save the rest for the garden in the spring. The spring seedlings can be started later on during the winter. Those seedlings can be transplanted later right into the ground during May. The seeds you plant now are for use now.
If your time is short and you want instant results, we at Skillin's have some beautiful fresh herbs already growing for only $3.99 for a 4" pot! All you have to remember is to water as needed and feed every 2 weeks and pick often--but take time to smell the foliage. Bon Appétit!
January 16, 2010
P.S. Just noticed this article by Sudhir Nalik extolling the many virtues of basil--one of THE most popular plants we sell here at Skillin's:
Basil is also known as "Sacred Tulsi" or "Holy Basil". It is cultivated and known for around 5000 years. The tropical regions of Asia, Iran and India were the producers and consumers of basil for a long time till it became a popular herb thanks to the extremely beneficial properties of basil. While there are more than 60 varieties of basil and most of them are adaptable to organic cultivation, you can consider "Genovese" and "Italian large leaf basil" varieties relatively easy for growing. You can also choose to grow "Thai Basil" which has a mild anise flavor and is sweeter compared to the Italian variety. Purple variety of basil known as "Purple Ruffles" is also considered one of the best.
Health Benefits of Basil
Basil herb benefits body by increasing its resistance and developing strong immunity system. While many of the benefits have immediate effect and are evident clearly, some of the benefits show in long run when the body's natural process of healing and health improves gradually. This becomes obvious after taking a regular intake of Basil or "Holy Basil extract" for weeks altogether. You may feel more energized and relaxed after consuming a cup of basil tea or basil juice. Modern scientific research confirms that basil reduces stress, enhances stamina, lowers cholesterol, relieves inflammation, eliminates toxins, prevents gastric ulcer, lowers fever, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients. It has traditionally been used by folks in Ayurvedic remedies and medicine in countries around the world. It is also finding wide usage in homeopathy and pharmaceuticals.
Properties and Composition of Basil Herb
The unique composition of "Basil" is highly complex with its different beneficial compounds known as phyto-chemicals, essential oils (containing linalol, estragol, eugenol, citral and citronellal monoterpenes), tannins, flavonoids, rosmarinic, caffeic and chlorogenic acids.
Antioxidant - The anti-oxidative effect is mainly due to the phenolic acids, flavonoids and anthocyanins present in basil. Due to this property, it is effective in reducing blood glucose levels.
Adaptogen - The adaptogenic property of basil helps the body to adapt efficiently to stress and tension. Adaptogens present in basil reduce the intensity and negative, harmful effect of the stress caused by the hectic life schedule, mental tension, emotional outbreaks, poor lifestyle habits, infection and pollution.
Antiviral - Studies have shown that crude aqueous and ethanol extracts of basil that contain ursolic acid exhibit strong antiviral behaviors against viruses
Culinary Uses of Basil Herb
Basil herb is commonly used fresh in cooking recipes. The aroma of the fresh leaves is simply outstanding in salads, tuna, stews and potatoes. It is advisable to add it when the dish is almost done to retain the flavor and aroma of fresh basil that does wonders to the recipe. Beware of excessive cooking, as it destroys the flavor and the essential nutrients. Fresh herb can be refrigerated in plastic bag or dried for future consumption. Basil is a popular and main ingredient of "Pesto" an Italian sauce along with olive oil and pine nuts.
Growing Basil Indoors
How to grow basil? Basil herbs are tender annuals in cold climate like US and Canada but are perennial in the warm, temperate and tropical regions of Asia. They can be easily grown indoors in containers or outdoors from seeds and cuttings. Growing basil indoors is simple by maintaining the soil temperature at around 70 degree Fahrenheit. Basil should be pruned when it has grown into 3 to 5 set of leaves to expedite propagation and branching.
Start an Herb Garden with Multipurpose and Healing Basil Herb
Basil is an important ingredient in potpourri and also used for scented beads. You must enjoy the delicious "Basil Herbal Tea" in the early mornings or dreary tired evenings to relish the rejuvenating experience and the fragrance that lingers for a long time. If you haven't, I would suggest you to try the aromatic "Basil Green Tea", especially with the fresh basil leaves from your herb garden. You will definitely feel the difference when compared it from the one that was obtained from the grocery stores. Drying Basil leaves and preserving it can serve you throughout the year.
Sudhir Naik co-wrote the above article with Shraddha N. and has been caring for herbs for over 20 years. He is a contributing writer to http://www.evergreenherbgardens.com site - providing information and tips on herb garden. Basil's extracts are used in Ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, skin disorder and malaria. Traditionally, Holy Basil or Sacred Tulsi is taken in many forms - as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaves or mixed with ghee. Use the fresh aromatic Basil herb in your own home herb garden, for healthy living, nature cure and rapid healing of common ailments. Sign up for a Evergreen Herb Garden Mini-Course and procure your own copy of "Secrets Of Evergreen Herb gardening" to start growing Basil indoors in your herb garden. Increase immunity and develop resistance to common allergies and live a healthy life.