Useful Tips for Preserving Fall Annuals for Winter Use

Useful Tips for Preserving Fall Annuals for Winter Use

Humans have been using fresh herbs to boost the flavor of food and enjoy plant-based healing properties for centuries. Now, many of those healing properties have been backed by science–and you don’t need a study to tell you that fresh herbs will always taste better!

Stocking up on annual herbs is a great, cost-effective way to access fresh herbs in your kitchen. The question is, what do you do when your fall herbs go out of season?

Preserving fall annuals is surprisingly easy. Plus, many preservation methods ensure that you’ll still get great flavor and plenty of beneficial nutrients even after the plant’s life cycle is complete.

Read on for useful tips for preserving fall annuals. All of our methods are easy and delicious!

Preserving Herbs For Baking: Honey Herb Infusions

If baking is your passion, you’re going to love this herb preservation method. Honey herb infusions can run the gamut from floral-sweet to savory-sweet. You can use your honey infusions to flavor cakes, scones, bread, and more. Lemon Balm would make a great infusion with honey to add into tea to help combat seasonal colds and flu.

To create your infusion, we recommend using one cup of honey per every half to one cup of fresh herbs. Add all of your ingredients to a small saucepan and heat it on the stove over low heat. You want the honey to become runny but you don’t want it to boil.

Keep the mixture over low heat for five to six minutes. Then, cut the heat and allow the mixture to cool in the pan for about fifteen minutes before transferring it to a glass jar. 

 By using this flavorful herb, you’re cutting down on the amount of sugars used to artificially produce the same taste, and infusing your honey instead with nutritious natural lemony flavor.

Boosting Gut Health: Fermented Herbs

Fermented foods boost the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which can improve digestion and decrease a surprising number of health risks. Some culinary experts have given fermented herbs a shot and found delicious and pleasing results! If you’ve got an excess of fall herbs like dill on hand, grab some garlic and other aromatics and get fermenting!

Fermentation requires a perfect balance of water, salt, and environmental factors like temperature. The procedure varies based on the amount of herbs you intend to ferment, the size of the container you want to use, and more. We suggest doing some research to get your levels exactly right. If fermenting herbs doesn’t sound good, make homemade pickles with this mixture (plus vinegar) instead!

Drizzle or Saute: Oil Herb Infusions

Honey isn’t the only thing you can infuse with herbs! Oil infusing herbs is another great herb preservation method that is easy to master. Our favorite infusion method is the no-cook method that keeps your herbs and oils at their freshest.

Grab a clean glass jar and fill it with the herbs of your choice, leaving about a half to a third of the jar empty. Cover the herbs with the oil of your choice (we suggest extra virgin olive oil) so that the herbs are fully submerged. Seal the jar and leave it in a sunny window, shaking the jar once a day.

After about three weeks, your oil is almost ready to go. Use a cheesecloth to strain the herbs out of the oil and get ready to drizzle and saute with your new fragrant oil herb infusion!

Steeping Teas and More: Dried Herbs

Freeze-dried herbs are some of the freshest and best-preserved herbs in the dried herb world. However, most of us don’t have a freeze drier lying around at home. The good news is that there are other methods available that are easy to follow.

One method is to dehydrate your herbs using a food dehydrator. Remember, a lot of fall annuals are on the delicate side, like basil, cilantro, and dill. Make sure your dehydrator temperatures aren’t too high, or you may end up with a little more crunch than you intended!

Another method is to bundle your herbs and hang them in a cool, dark space. Keep the stems as long as possible and tie them together with yarn or string. Then, hang your bundles upside down and let them dry out over the course of three to six weeks, depending on the variety. 

Once your herbs are dried, regardless of method, you can preserve them whole or crumble them up. The dried leaves will crumble easily and you can store them in an air-tight container like a glass bottle or a reused spice jar. Then, you can use your dried herbs to flavor food or create unique loose leaf teas–this method also works nicely for flowers like roses and chamomile.

Stocking the Freezer: Frozen Herb Cubes

The freezer isn’t just for microwave meals and frozen peas! There are plenty of fresh creations you can store in the freezer to use at your leisure later in the year. Having a tray of frozen herb cubes is one of our absolute favorite kitchen hacks.

To start, you’ll need at least one ice cube tray. Shape and size don’t matter but keep in mind that when you use one of your herb cubes, you’ll need to use the whole thing at once. You may want to choose an ice cube tray with small to medium compartments.

Chop up your herbs into small pieces and distribute them evenly in the compartments of your ice cube tray. Then, fill each compartment with an oil of your choice (again, we recommend extra virgin olive oil.) You can then put your ice cube tray in a freezer bag or directly into the freezer and pull out cubes as needed for sautees and soups.

Preserving Fall Annuals Made Simple

You don’t have to stop enjoying your annual herbs just because their seasons have passed. Preserving fall annuals can be fun and simple. What preservation methods will you try this fall?

Are you ready to start prepping for the fall growing season? Get your fall plant order in today with The Growers Exchange.

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12 Whimsical Uses for Incredible Edible Flowers

12 Whimsical Uses for Incredible Edible Flowers

After realizing the rich history behind Edible Flowers, you probably feel the urge to reincorporate them into daily life. But, let’s be honest: our experience coupling flowers with food is perhaps limited to throwing them on as an attractive garnish or tossing them into a salad. But, with these new ideas under your belt, you won’t just be eating your ‘rainbow’ every day; you’ll be eating your bouquet too!

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Osborn

In The Kitchen

Flower Ice Cubes

This will take your “garden party” to a whole new level. Following these step-by-step instructions will give you perfectly suspended flower-cubes! Truth be told, these flowers may not get eaten. But, just look at them! Add these cubes to your favorite beverage (like this Sparkling Borage Cocktail) for an instant smile.

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Borage & Goat Cheese Ravioli

If you’re a cheese fan, this one’s for you! Ricotta, goat cheese, and parmesan make for a decadent filling, complemented nicely by the addition of Borage. Cook stems, leaves, and petals in water for 8 minutes. Give it a rough chop, and add it to your three-cheese mixture. If you’re not into the fresh-pasta-making-game, you can use this hack and improvise with premade lasagna sheets from Whole Foods.

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Calendula & Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? With this recipe, don’t just garnish your dessert with petals: put them inside! If you want to mix it up for an extra floral taste, swap out the thyme for lavender flowers. Delightfully chewy, pull-apart, sugary goodness awaits you!

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Lilac Jelly

Use Lilac flowers, or any other type of strong-smelling edible blossom (like the Lavender shown here), to make this jelly! Its lightly floral taste pairs nicely with many things: add it to your cream cheese and bagel routine in the morning, or include it in a lemon drop martini at night. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

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“Poor Man’s Capers”

Nasturtium flowers will produce large, pea-sized seeds, which you can transform into “capers.” Assembly is pretty basic: one cup vinegar, one cup seeds, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon sugar. You can spice up the recipe by adding sprigs of your favorite herbs to the mix!

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Summer Rolls with Marigolds & Nasturtium

Forget Spring Rolls; Summer Rolls are our new favorite. Fresh Marigolds, Nasturtium, Cilantro, and Mint combine for a spicy fresh flavor. Nestled in a conveniently see-through rice wrapper, you’ll have a dippable, tantalizing showstopper on your hands. We can taste the soy sauce already!

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Lavender Blueberry Earl Grey Pound Cake

You are a handful of fresh Lavender flowers and one bag of tea away from the moistest, crumbliest, most delicious breakfast of your life. (With a little bit of coffee, you can have this cake for breakfast, right? At least on the weekend?)

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In The Bathroom

Borage Face-Mask

Skincare is one of the many medicinal uses of Borage. Tap into its skin-healing properties by making this simple face-mask. What’s required? Borage, an egg, and a blender! Easy enough. The results? This (hilarious) tester reported that her face became smooth, plump, and appeared to have fewer wrinkles. Is it worth incorporating into your weekly spa routine? Possibly!

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Calendula-Infused Oil

It’s no secret that Calendula has been a popular skincare ingredient in the past; so, why not cut out the middleman and make your own infused oil? Infuse Calendula into your favorite carrier oil (olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil) and use it as a nighttime moisturizer on its own. Or, use your concoction as an ingredient in this salve, designed to help heal scars.

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Chamomile Face Toner

Use up some of your dried Chamomile flowers for this recipe. Chamomile contains flavonoids that are known to protect the skin, calming rashes and acne. Coupled with Apple Cider vinegar, this Face Toner is a breakout buster! Not sure how to dry your Chamomile flowers? Keep reading.

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In The Home

Sachets

Are you tired of that shoe-closet funk? Use your dried herb flowers to create Sachets (little pouches of smell-good-goodness) to throw in your closets and dresser drawers. Since there’s no right-or-wrong in the Sachet scenario, use your nose to determine the mixture that will suit you best. Not in the mood to buy or make Sachet bags? Instead, fill up a small children’s sock with your unique mixture, tying the end with ribbon.

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Candles

Incorporating dried flowers into candles is an easy way to elevate decor or create an attractive gift for a friend! Get creative by choosing flowers with different colors and scents, or keep them simply beautiful by selecting your favorite one. 

Not up to a candle-making challenge? Add some floral pizzaz to an existing pillar candle by:

  1. Placing dried flower petals on wax paper.
  2. Covering them with a layer of melted wax.
  3. And then rolling the candle in the flowers.

A Quick Flower Drying Tutorial

Fresh and dried flowers both have a place in our hearts, diets, and daily routine! Dried flowers have a bonus: they can keep! Save them to make a hot cup of tea during the winter; use them in your bath soaks or as potpourri. Not sure how to do it? Don’t worry; read these simple steps!

  • Cut fresh flower heads every 2-3 days to encourage your plants to produce.
  • Gather flower buds during the heat of the day; this is when the dew has dried, and the flower’s flavor is at its peak.
  • Put whole-heads on a mesh rack or basket.
  • Place them in a warm, well-ventilated location.
  • Toss them every day or two to dry them evenly.
  • Test a flower after 7-10 days to ensure that they have finished the process. Err on the side of too dry. Petals should be crispy, and the base should be malleable but not moist.

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More than Just a Pretty Face: The History and Medicine Behind Edible Flowers

More than Just a Pretty Face: The History and Medicine Behind Edible Flowers

Eating flowers is a practice that has deep roots in humanity’s history. More recently, the only place you might see an edible flower is on a fancy dessert at an expensive restaurant (and, chances are, you probably put it to the side). Why should we start eating flowers again? What role have edible flowers played in history and medicine?

An Unknown Beginning

Eating flowers goes back to the beginning of time. There’s no identifiable point in history that this practice began. Ancient Roman, Greek, and Chinese herbalists had plenty to say on the benefits of eating flowers. Incas, Aztecs, and Hindus also chose to include edible flowers in some of their religious rituals.

A Short History Lesson, Featuring Your Favorite Flowers

History shows that some of our garden favorites are more than just a pretty face: they have a fascinating back-story and practical uses today!

Calendula

Calendula is one of the most universally recognized edible flowers, making an appearance in nearly every ancient culture. Records show that its cultivation goes back some 600 years, playing an important role in French and English culture.

Romans frequently used Calendula to give their food a saffron-like tinge, dubbing this herb “Poor-Man’s Saffron.”

Ancient Monks nicknamed Calendula “Pot Marigold” because they so commonly used it in soups and stews.

Yet another title that identifies Calendula is “Mary’s-Gold,” a name surrounded by folklore from the 1200s. Rumor has it that a beautiful, golden-haired girl who sat and watched the sun each day suddenly disappeared, the delightfully yellow flower emerged, the girl was never to be found again, and her friends declared that she had turned into a plant.

Fast forward to the 1800s, when doctors realized that Calendula was helpful as a poultice, stopping bleeding and encouraging wounds to heal. On battle lines, doctors would carry dried Calendula flowers to apply to their injured patients.

Using Calendula Today

Calendula is used by modern herbalists to help with ulcers, wound healing, relieve muscle fatigue, and regulate menstruation. The flower’s green base is where most of the Calendula’s “medicine” resides; petals do not have the same medicinal oomph but still have some value.

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Nasturtium

These natives of Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia made their entry into European life by Spanish conquistadors in the 1600s. Their climbing abilities earned them their scientific name, Tropaeolum Minor, which comes from the Greek word meaning “to twine.” 

Victorian English women would include Nasturtiums in their “Tussie Mussies” (in medieval times, these were small bouquets given as gifts or carried instead of wearing jewelry) for their fragrance and symbolism of victory! 

It wasn’t too long until everyone decided Nasturtiums tasted just as good as they looked. Their seeds were soaked in vinegar and used as caper-substitutes, and their leaves and flowers added extra peppery flavor to salads.

Using Nasturtium Today

Modern herbalists use Nasturtium to help treat respiratory issues, such as bronchitis and congestion, in addition to urinary tract infections. Since Nasturtium is a natural antibacterial agent, some use it to sanitize wounds, while others focus on taking it internally (through tea or their diet).

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Borage

These buds have a long history of being included in salads, reaching back before 1390. With their light cucumber-like flavor, Borage became a fast favorite and a “cure” for nearly everything. An herbalist in the 1700s reports that a regular intake of “distilled water of Borage” would cheer you up, reduce your risk of fainting spells, and ward off “melancholy and tormented dreams,” among a few other things.

The use of Borage flowers went beyond the drawing-rooms of tightly-corseted, depressed English ladies, however. It is also known as “the herb of courage.” Borage was mixed with wine and given to nervous Celtic warriors before battle to provide calm and courage. These soldiers would sew a Borage flower on their sleeveless coat, under their suit of armor, to remind them to cheer up and be brave!

Using Borage Today

Sure enough, the medieval knights had one thing right: even modern herbalists use Borage to help treat depression. As a natural anti-inflammatory agent, some have found success in treating asthma and rheumatoid arthritis with Borage.

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Feverfew

The Greeks nicknamed this cheery, daisy-like flower “Parthenium” because (rumor has it) doctors used it to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon during its construction in the 5th century BC.

The common name “Feverfew” comes from the plant’s antipyretic (fever-reducing) qualities. It’s known as the “aspirin” of the 1800s: treating fevers, colds, and headaches.

There’s a possibility that Feverfew also fits the description of “parthenion” (which means “maidenly” in Greek) because it has been widely used to regulate menstruation and ease labor pains.

Using Feverfew Today

Feverfew also has extensive anti-inflammatory properties, which gives it similar modern-day uses to Borage. Most commonly, it is used to treat migraines and tension headaches.

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A Bitter End to Edible Flowers

Interestingly, while there’s no identifiable beginning, there is an identifiable end to the common practice of eating flowers: the industrialization of food. Once everyone started purchasing food instead of growing their own, edible flowers became a novelty.

A Hopeful Comeback

Recently, there has been more interest in organic farming and natural living. We are all smitten with the idea of “farm to table.” We want to use every bit of what we grow, including the mesmerizing buds!

With more recognition of “natural living,” the medicinal uses of flowers have come out of the closet and into broad daylight as well.

The Amazing Abilities of Basil: It’s Not Just Pesto Anymore

The Amazing Abilities of Basil: It’s Not Just Pesto Anymore

None of us like to be pigeonholed. Truth be told: We all wear many different hats. One role, no matter how important, doesn’t describe our entire life. The most devoted “Mom” is also a daughter, friend, worker, artist, horticulturist, and who knows what else! The world of herbs is no different; their uses are endless! Basil is known for Pesto, but exactly what else can it do?

The Many Abilities of Basil

Many people scour the internet for “non-pesto ideas” of what to do with their extra Basil. It’s clear: We love you, Pesto, but we’ve had enough. So, here are a few other ideas:

Basil Truffles

Rich, creamy, semi-sweet chocolate with a subtle flavor of Basil. Do you feel spoiled yet? There isn’t anything much more decadent than a truffle, and they aren’t hard to make. This recipe calls for ½ a cup of fresh Basil leaves and yields 54 spheres of chocolate-bliss!

Basil Ice Cream

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have an Ice Cream machine,” don’t despair! This recipe is churn free and only has four ingredients! You can either leave in the 1 cup of Basil bits or strain them out for an extra smooth texture. Either way, serve this ice cream with some fresh fruit, and you’re suddenly everyone’s best friend. (Make extra Basil-syrup to use in your favorite drinks too!)

Thai Basil Gimlet

The naturally sweet licorice flavors of Thai Basil make this drink incredibly refreshing. Muddle the six basil leaves before mixing and use your Basil-syrup as a replacement for an average simple syrup (if you’re going for an extra herbaceous beverage)!

Basil Infused Vodka or Vinegar

Infusing Vodka or Vinegar is an insanely simple process. Choose whichever Basil you like! Your Basil Infused Vodka will be ready to add some extra pizazz to your mixed drinks for the season, while your souped-up Vinegar will give added flavor to salads.

Natural Cleaning Spray

Similar to the above method, you can also infuse white cleaning vinegar with the fresh-smelling essence of Basil! With only three ingredients needed, this household cleaner is a no-brainer! For extra germ-fighting power, check out this Basil Essential Oil cleaner.

Bath Bags

Drying some of your summertime Basil bounties also means you can make these relaxing, giftable “bath bags.” Essentially, they’re giant, homemade tea bags for your bathwater. Not only will you come out smelling great and feeling relaxed, but your skin will also be moisturized, too, with the addition of some ground oats.

Basil’s Medicinal Uses

This kitchen-favorite has spent a lot of time in the medicine cabinet throughout history. And, it still has a strong presence in modern holistic treatment. “Ayurveda” is an herbal, traditionally Indian form of medicine, in which Holy Green Basil (Tusli) plays a key role.

Whether you decide to embrace every aspect of Ayurveda is up to you. But its goal of preventing sickness or disease, instead of just treating it, is one we can all get behind! 

Holy Green Basil is an excellent source of antioxidants, which contributes to overall wellness. While our bodies naturally make antioxidants, they need an added boost. Why is it so important?

Antioxidants help clean up our bodies from damaging molecules, which, left unchecked, can cause disease and cell damage. Diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer have all been linked to these dastardly molecules. No wonder we need to get rid of them!

Sweet Basil also gets in on the action, with some studies showing that it lowers blood sugar levels in test animals. This herb was also effective at battling against E. Coli bacteria, leading some researchers to conclude that Basil Oil could help treat or prevent infection.

Most studies you’ll find online research the effectiveness of Basil Supplements or Essential Oils, which can be harmful to small children and pregnant or nursing women. These studies are also limited to Sweet Basil and Holy Green Basil. So, make sure to do your research and consult a doctor if you are considering these options to treat a medical condition.

Using Basil From the Garden, However, Is Usually a Low-risk Choice

Whether it be a home remedy for a mosquito bite or just adding this fresh herb as a regular part of a healthy, balanced diet, Basil can improve still your quality of life! Read on to see some low-risk health-hacks that may just be better than pesto:

  • Upset Stomach: Traditionally, fresh Basil has been used to calm indigestion. Simply add a few leaves to a cup of water. For those wanting more immediate relief, try eating a leaf-or-two straight.
  • Bug Bites: Basil has a chemical compound called “eugenol,” which helps itchy skin! Blend or finely chop fresh basil leaves and rub them on the affected area.
  • Nasal Congestion: Using the “Steam Inhalation” method is an excellent way to relieve unpleasant congestion. Simply boil a pot of water, place a few Holy Basil leaves (and Peppermint leaves, for good measure) in the water, and inhale for 10 minutes. For the full benefit of the steam, place a towel over your head, capturing the moisture from the pot. (Don’t forget to pull back your hair, Rapunzel!)If this all seems like too much work, you can always “steam yourself” in a hot bathtub. For a more concentrated treatment, dissolve ten drops of Basil Essential Oil into 1 cup of Epsom Salt. (It’s important to remember not to place the oils directly in the bathwater. Oil and water don’t mix, which increases the risk of skin irritation.)
  • Acne: Blend a handful of basil leaves with a dash of lemon juice. Apply the mixture to your face and leave it for 30 minutes. Wash it off with cold water. For a moisturizing effect, add a tablespoon of honey to the mix! Use this remedy three times per week for the best results.
  • Anxiety: Some studies have shown that Holy Green Basil has anti-depressant qualities. Reap the benefits by incorporating Tulsi tea into your routine. Take ¼ cup of fresh Holy Green Basil leaves, place it in 1 ½ cups of water in a non-stick pan, and leave it on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain out the leaves, and make any additions you would like lemon, honey, you name it!

While pesto will forever hold a place in our hearts (and in our kitchen!), Basil has so much more to offer. May your growing season be fruitful, so you can use Basil in all its roles.

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The Secret Life of Basil: Forlorn Love, Holy Water, and Scorpions?

The Secret Life of Basil: Forlorn Love, Holy Water, and Scorpions?

Basil: We love it. It’s become a household staple and a beloved friend. It tastes great and enhances everything. No wonder the word “basil” comes from the Greek word for “King.” But, when you stop to think, how much do you really know about that Basil sitting on your windowsill? This “King of the Kitchen” has a fascinating secret past, and surprising origins! Learning the facts will give you some mind-tingling trivia to use at the dinner table, and just might put a smile on your face next time you make your grandma’s marinara recipe.

Basil Basics

What do Basil, Mint, Rosemary, and Sage have in common? Hold onto your chair! They’re all related. Is your mind blown?

These plant-cousins seem vastly different in looks and tastes, but they are all part of the Lamiaceae plant family, which has about 3,500 species! In fact, the genus we know as Basil (ocimum basilicum) has 150 varieties.

That classic variety you’re probably thinking of right now is Basil ‘Genovese,’ aka: Sweet Basil. But, there are plenty other types of this royal herb that deserve attention. Tulsi, or Holy Green Basil, is revered for its religious significance and health benefits. Then, of course, there’s the dark and glossy Basil ‘Amethyst,’ and the ‘Thai Siam Queen,’ who graces us with her sweet licorice twist. And that’s just to name a few!

Care

The good news is, all of these Basil plants require the same type of care. So, if you want to experiment this growing season and try out a new variety, don’t despair! Just follow these basic care tips:

  • Soil: Select a nutrient rich, well-draining soil.
  • Water: Basil hates soggy roots. The soil should be kept slightly damp, rewatering before it has dried out in its entirety. If you’ve opted for container gardening, check your soil an inch or two down with a chopstick or your finger. If you used a traditional potting mix instead of the recommended well-draining soil, water less frequently. Tip: The best time to water is in the mornings or evenings. This will help prevent the foliage from getting sunburned from the harsh afternoon sun!
  • Light: These herbs love the morning and early afternoon sun. They require 6-8 hours of natural light per day.

If you are growing your Basil indoors, they still have the same natural light requirement. Put them near your sunniest window, and supplement with a grow light. If you opt to use a grow light-only, Basil requires 10 hours of artificial light.

  • Harvesting: You should do this frequently to encourage your Basil to become a mighty bush! Check the stem and locate an area where two pairs of leaves are growing; cut the stem just above. This means the two stems will continue to grow, amplifying your plant’s productivity.

Fast fact: If harvested properly, twelve Basil plants can yield 4-6 cups of leaves per week! Having trouble using that much basil? You can always freeze it. Simply pulse the washed leaves in your food processor with some olive oil (to prevent the leaves from turning black in the freezer) and put it in an ice cube tray. Viola! Fresh Basil whenever you need it.

The Origins of Basil

When you hear “Basil,” what country comes to mind? Italy, no doubt! And for a good reason: Pesto, Pasta Sauce, and Caprese Salad are some of our favorite Basil-forward dishes. The cruel irony, however, is that Italy’s favorite herb is not a native of the Mediterranean.

Basil was a transplant during the spice trade from India and Asia. No one is entirely sure who gets dibs on its origin. The first historical record of Sweet Basil was in 807 AD in the region of Hunan, China. However, Basil’s roots run deep in India, where Hindus revere it and use it in the ancient worship of the god Vishnu.

The confusion about the exact origins of Basil is a testament to its hardiness! Wherever this plant goes, it can grow and propagate. This also highlights the rich history of container gardening, which aided in Basil’s transport.

Historical Significance

People in ancient times were fascinated by our favorite herb. Basil became an integral part of religious traditions and the topic of some intriguing folklore. Perhaps funniest of all: Many of the concepts are in stark contrast to each other. So, will we never know all of the secrets Basil has to hold? Read on and draw your own conclusion!

Basil is a central part of Hinduism. Holy Green Basil is offered to Vishnu, when worshipping her, making it a common feature in Indian gardens. During the British occupation, Indian citizens were permitted to swear on Basil rather than the Bible when in court, highlighting just how esteemed this herb is in Hindu culture!

The religious significance of Basil transcends belief-systems, as the Greek Orthodox Church uses the same type of Basil to prepare their holy water.

Jewish tradition says that Basil can give you strength when fasting. While Italians say that Basil helps you have a restful “abbiocco” (after-lunch nap).

Many cultures also revered Basil as a way to gain favorable passage into the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians used it in their mummifying procedures. Other cultures would place the herb in the hand or mouth of the deceased.

John Keats famously wrote a tragic love-poem surrounding Basil Folklore, entitled “Isabella, or the Pot of Basil.” While we will save you from some of the grisly details (this story makes Romeo and Juliet sound like a kid’s cartoon): A forlorn girl uses a pot of Basil to preserve her dead beau, only to “die forlorn, imploring for her Basil to the last” after her brothers steal her beloved herb. (Don’t get this attached to your container garden, please!)

Meanwhile, in Africa, Basil was used to ward off scorpions. While in European cultures, just one whiff of Basil could apparently infest your brain with them!

Italians saw Basil as a signal of love. Portugal too, uses Basil as a gift to your sweetheart during certain religious holidays. While ancient Rome and Greece felt that Basil symbolized hatred, abuse, poverty, and misfortune.

 

Who would’ve thought that we had such a world-traveler on our hands! Next time you pick up some fresh Basil, take a couple of seconds to reflect on how far this ‘King of the Kitchen’ has come. (But smell it at your own risk!)

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A Time to Plant, Fall Herb Gardening

A Time to Plant, Fall Herb Gardening

Spring: The Fickle Season

Ah, Spring ~ the fickle season. Bringing us out on a lovely day then slapping us back inside with an unexpected snowstorm. “Cover the__” – {you can fill in the blank!} And on the other side of spring, another lovely day followed by a scorcher  “Water the __” {and fill in the blank!}

Spring is such a frenzied time for a gardener, and so many of us, tired of the dreary winter, tend to jump the gun and live to regret it. Yes, even veteran gardeners give into emotion when we see all of those bright annuals luring us into the garden center in March. What we don’t see, however, is their weary staff trying to hustle carts back into the greenhouses in the evening after a snap frost has been forecasted. Or, planting early when the soil is still cold, being frustrated by no growth.

Fall: The Stable Season

Let’s talk about the less emotional side of autumn. If Spring is a drama queen, then Fall is the more stable sister season; less intense in terms of mood swings. We glide into cooler days, cooler air temperatures are easier of plants, the soil remains warm and allows roots to grow longer than the spring, up until a freeze. Plants can devote their energy to growing tough, strong and healthy root systems. Harvesting herbs in the fall is a joy. The sun is less intense in the fall, and not only is that better on the plants, what about the gardener?

Pre-Order Fall Plants

These plants ship in the Fall, pre-order today as plants will not last! 

Fall Planting Is For The Grower Too

Right now, in mid-summer in Zone 7A, I find myself gardening in the very early morning and harvesting late, almost dusk. It’s hot and humid in my garden, and I’m at war with all of the pests and diseases and weeds that are just waiting to invade. Honestly, gardening in July is a challenge.

In autumn, your biggest challenge is keeping those pesky falling leaves at bay with a leaf blower, but one the biggest advantages is the lack of insects. Give me the cool and pest free days of autumn. Sure, there are mosquitos and a few other challenges, but I’m much better equipped to deal with them in autumn. Right now, they just make me cranky!

As we begin growing our Fall Crop, over 150 different herb plants, we turn our attention to helping our customers understand the value of growing in autumn.  

Many culinary herbs grow best in the fall season. Take some time to review the plants we offer, think about your own wants and needs in both fall and spring … and summer, and realize that planting these herbs in the fall not only gives them the best start, but it provides you with both a fall and spring/summer crop as well as gives you the opportunity to garden at what we think is the BEST time of year! 

The Beauty of Fall

Following the progression of the seasons and anchoring us to nature’s rhythm, even if we can only follow a few moments a day.  But those few minutes are enough to relax our thoughts, lower our blood pressure and give us a restart; recharging us to take on the day! We at The Growers Exchange believe everyone should have their own little garden spot, no matter how big or small. Whether you have ten acres or ten inches, we know how important gardening can be. Your outdoor plot or indoor pot can sometimes be the only oasis in a busy day of fast paced living. We applaud your green thumb, and  if you have one, we have an interesting assortment of plants, we can help beginners, and as always, we send healthy, well rooted plants. Our success depends on your garden success; we want to help you grow!