Every Community Needs a Seed Library

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Bevin Cohen

seed catalog

Community seed sharing programs bring people together. So many times, as I’ve stood in front of a crowd at a seed library opening or other similar event, I’ve looked out among the faces and been amazed at the sheer diversity of people in the room: people of all ages, ethnicities, and gender. Seeds are truly a part of everyone’s story; without seeds we simply cannot survive. And with each passing year it seems that more and more people are realizing this and returning to the Earth, to the seeds that feed us all.

When people talk of saving seeds, inevitably they mention the importance of preserving genetic diversity. While genetic and historic preservation, adaptability, and self-reliance are all important aspects of the seed saving movement, it’s community building that is the foundation on which the entire movement stands.

As the movement toward increased food security and localized…

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Roselle Hibiscus– An Herb with Many Names

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

With its bright red calyces, green leaves, and okra-like flowers, Hibiscus sabdariffa, alsoroselle known as red zinger, red sorrel, sour tea, Florida cranberry, and roselle, makes an unusual and striking accent plant in the garden. On a recent trip to Montreal, I was surprised to see red zinger hibiscus growing at the back of formal garden borders. I thought it was a plant that grew only in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Apparently, it does well in cooler climates as well. We don’t normally think of red zinger hibiscus as a landscape plant, but indeed it can be.

And of course, an interesting side note to this hibiscus is that the whole plant has many uses. The red calyces surrounding the seed can be removed and dried and used to make a refreshing hot or cold tea.  The fresh calyces can be chopped and used in fruit salads…

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Chicory Root

Chicory is the Herb of the Month…

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

You may know the chicory root as a popular coffee substitute. In fact, it was widely used during the Great Depression and World War II when coffee was in short supply or too expensive. Today, it is used around the world and in the US, particularly in New Orleans, as a natural caffeine-free substitute for coffee. However, it’s much more than a rich drink.

Chicory has a long history as a cleansing medicinal herb. In fact, the ancient Egyptians were known to consume large amounts of chicory to purify the liver and blood. Romans were also known to have used the root to help with blood purification. Medieval monks cultivated the plant, and it is widely used in Europe and the Mediterranean where it natively grows.

Called kasni in the Far East, chicory contains tannin phlobaphenes and several forms of sugar. The seeds have carminative and are useful as a…

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Violets are Delicious

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

violet bouquetOne of the loveliest flowers of spring is the Viola odorata or as it is commonly referred to, the “Sweet violet.” Violets have been used in herbal healing remedies for centuries, in fact St. Hildegard of Bingen, the famous 12th century German mystic and healer, was said to have made a healing salve of violet juice, olive oil, and goat tallow for its use as a possible anti-bacterial.

I use violets whenever I can for their healing virtues, and they are also an absolutely delicious ingredient in salads, drinks, and desserts. Back in the day, violet flowers, and leaves mixed into salads were one of my favorite spring remedies for pre-menstrual melancholy. When chopped liberally into extra virgin olive oil with some fresh comfrey leaves, they make a poultice that can…

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Let Us Stroll the Primrose Path of Dalliance

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kathleen M Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society

20190505_163700The botanical family name of the common or English primrose, Primula, comes from the diminutive of the Latin word for “first.” And the common name “primrose,” derived from prima rosa (“first rose”), is also a reference to the primrose being one of the first flowers of spring. This is not the evening primrose (Oenethera), or any of the other, more ornate, forms of Primula. This is the quintessentially English cottage garden flower.

Of course, it is then described as “vulgaris.” Sounds harsh. But this is not a matter of judgment of the primrose’s character. It’s just that, where the primrose is happy, it is very happy. It grows and spreads in abundance in cool, moist places.

This does not describe the micro-climate in most of our homes when primroses beckon so invitingly from the grocery store aisles shortly after the winter holiday…

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Health Benefits of Moringa

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Moringa oleifera is a plant, which is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree.

Moringa has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits and has antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Facts on Moringa:

  • The tree is native to India but also grows in Asia, Africa, and South America.
  • Moringa contains a variety of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Moringa oleifera has few known side effects.
  • People taking medication should consult a doctor before taking moringa extract.

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What is in Moringa?

Moringa oleiferaMoringa has medicinal properties and contains many healthful compounds.

Moringa contains many healthful compounds such as:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin), B-6
  • folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • zinc

It is also extremely low in fats and contains no harmful cholesterol.

What are the benefits?

Moringa is believed to have many…

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The Beautiful Herb That’s Amazing for Your Heart; Red Clover Benefits

Finding a three-leaf clover may bring good luck, but taking red clover as a healing herb may bring even better fortune! People have appreciated the therapeutic qualities of the red clover's pink and red-hued blossom for generations. Women, in particular, have passed down its secrets as a remedy for feminine issues, whether premenstrual syndrome or menopause symptoms. … Continue reading The Beautiful Herb That’s Amazing for Your Heart; Red Clover Benefits

Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – When Cold and Flu Season Arrives.

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

These two recipes are prepared as teas but are not taken in your tea cup – they help with the discomfort of flu season in other ways.

Winter Inhalation

living-herbs-for-cold-flu-thymeThis traditional herbal steam helps open your sinuses, discourages bacterial and viral growth, and reduces pain and inflammation. Remember to stay a comfortable distance from the steaming pot to avoid burning your face.

8 – 12 teaspoons fresh or 4 teaspoons dried eucalyptus leaf {Eucalyptus globulus}

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme herb

3 cups purified water

Essential oils of the herbs above {optional}

Place the eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and water in a saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover. Drape a large towel…

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How to Brew Herbal Sun Tea

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Cool down with delicious, thirst-quenching herbal sun tea. Follow a few simple steps to enjoy a variety of refreshing flavors that are perfect for front porch sipping. Solar tea has never tasted so good.

Fresh organic herbs produce healthier, more refreshing teas, so pick your ingredients straight from the garden or buy from a local grower. All you need to make solar tea is a quart canning jar (good for preserving the herbs’ fragrant oils and properties), water, coarsely cut herbs of choice and sunshine.

To start, toss a half cup to 1 cup of fresh herbs into the canning jar. With practice, adjust this amount to suit your taste and the plants’ nature. Add water, a lid, and a few shakes. Place the jar where it will receive full sunlight, such as on a rooftop, open field or driveway. If possible, give the mixture a couple more shakes throughout…

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Make Mom a Herbal Bouquet

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bring inside the fresh scents of your garden this season. An herbal bouquet is the perfect antidote to stale late-winter air and helps prepare your home for spring. Herbal bouquets make great housewarming gifts or table toppers, and they make any floral arrangement unique.

Suzy Bales, author of Garden Bouquets and Beyond(Rodale, 2010), recommends combining a variety of fragrances and textures in your bouquet. Mint and geranium leaves make good bouquet herbs because they come in a wide array of scents, including chocolate, orange and apple. Herb Companion contributor Mary Fran McQuade likes geraniums because of their varied textures and also suggests including fuzzy lamb’s-ears in your bouquet so passersby will be intrigued to take a closer look and possibly even touch. Instead of baby’s breath or ferns to fill out your bouquet, try green wheat stalks, dill, parsley or fennel to add texture and shape.

Herbal bouquets can…

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