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Herbs and spices Reference manual.The International Standards Organization (ISO) defines spices andcondiments as vegetable products or mixtures thereof, free fromextraneous matter, used for flavoring, seasoning and imparting aromain foods.Webster describes spices as any of various aromatic vegetableproductions as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger,cloves, etc., used in cookery to season and to flavour sauces, pickles,etc; a vegetable condiment or relish, usually in the form of a powder;also, as condiments collectively.The famous spice author Rosengarten describes a spice as a productwhich enriches or alters the quality of a thing, for example altering thetaste of a food to give it zest or pungency; a piquant or lasting flavoring;or a relish. The term spice is thus used to cover the use of spices,herbs and certain aromatic vegetables to impart odour and flavour tofoods.
Herbs and spices Reference manual.A conventional classification of spices is based on degree of taste as: hot spices mild spices aromatic spices herbs and aromatic vegetables
Herbs and spices Reference manual.Though the term spice can be used to incorporate herbs, the distinctionbetween herbs and spices can be described as follows:Herbs may be defined as the dried leaves of aromatic plants used toimpart flavour and odour to foods with, sometimes, the addition ofcolour. The leaves are commonly traded separately from the plantstems and leaf stalks.Spices may be defined as the dried parts of aromatic plants with theexception of the leaves. This definition is wide-ranging and coversvirtually all parts of the plant.Herbs and spices have been used in foods since antiquity. ISOdocument 676 lists 109 herb and spice plant species useful asingredients in food.
Herbs and spices Reference manual.Conventional classification of spicesClasses SpicesHot spices Capsicum (chilies), Cayenne pepper, black and white peppers, ginger, mustardMild spices Paprika, corianderAromatic spices Allspice (pimento), cardamom, cassia, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, mace and nutmegHerbs Basil, bay, dill leaves, marjoram, tarragon, thymeAromatic vegetables Onion, garlic, shallot, celery
Organic Herbs and Spices BackgroundThe herbs and spices we use in cooking are often irradiated andproduced with the use of artificial chemicals and processed using moreartificial chemicals to clean, extract, bind, preserve, etc. This makesthem toxic and even though we tend to use only small amounts ofthem in our cooking they deliver a toxic load into our bodies.Organic herbs and spices are available. They are often difficult to findand the range is not as extensive as the conventionally grown ones,but we need to search them out. Better still, we can grow our ownrange of culinary herbs and spices. Even if we live in a unit we canhave a few pots on the windowsill or on the balcony, growing ourfavourite herbs and spices. Fresh and organic they contributewonderful flavours to our food.
Organic Herbs BackgroundOrganic herbs are those herbs which are grown using organic farmingpractices. organic farming excludes the use of synthetic inputs, such assynthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modified organisms(GMOs). Organic farming involves fostering natural processes.Enhancing soil health is the cornerstone of organic farming.A variety of methods are employed to improve soil health. Theseinclude crop rotation, green manure, cover cropping, application ofcompost, and mulching. Organic farming involves use of naturalfertilizers such as seed meal, rock phosphate and greensand, insteadof chemical fertilizers. Organic herb gardening is gaining popularitybecause organic herb gardening reduce or eliminate externalagricultural inputs, particularly synthetic ones, and promote andenhance agro-ecosystem health.
Organic spices BackgroundGlobal awareness of health and environmental issues is spreading fastin recent years, especially in the developed countries. Sustainability inproduction has become the prime concern in agriculture development.The organic method of farming is the best option to ensure that the air,water and soil around us remain unpolluted, leaving the environmentsafe for present and future generations.In many countries exploitative agriculture using industrial inputs hasbeen the norm since the 1960s, in order to cater for an increasingpopulation and to combat the occurrence of famine and naturalcalamities.
Organic spicesSuch a system of farming has been causing imbalances in theconstituents of biosphere, bioforces, bioforms and biosources. As aresult the health of Mother Earth has been deteriorating. Organicagriculture aims to tackle the above concern, and also aims atprotecting the environment from continuous decline.The concept of organic farming is based on an holistic approach wherenature is perceived to be more than just an individual element. In thisfarming system there is dynamic interaction between soil, humus, plant,animal, eco-system and environment.Hence organic farming differs from industrial agriculture as in the latter,biological systems are replaced by technical production systems withliberal use of chemicals.
Organic spicesOrganic farming improves the structure and fertility of the soil throughbalanced choice of crops and implementation of diversified croprotation systems.Biological processes are strengthened without recoursing to chemicalremedies, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In this farmingsystem control of pests, diseases and weeds is primarily preventative,and if required, adopting organic products, which will not adverselyaffect the environment.Genetically modified organisms are not normally acceptable because ofthe manipulations made in their natural set up.
Organic spicesOrganic matter of various kinds, nitrogen fixing plants, pests anddisease resistant varieties, soil improvement practices such asmulching and fallowing, crop rotation, multiple cropping, mixed farming,etc., are freely adopted.In brief, organic farming merges traditional and respectable views onnature with modern insights.Bio-dynamic agriculture is yet another approach to organic farming. It isbased on anthroposophy on the ideas formulated by the Austrianexpert, Rudolf Steiner, in 1924.
Organic spicesIn this system, the maintenance and furtherance of life processes onEarth are achieved by harnessing cosmic energy and variousinfluences of the sun, the stars, the moon and other planets.Bio-dynamic agriculture most often combines animal husbandry andcrop production and use of compost and bio-dynamic preparations torevitalize soil and plants and subsequently animals and human beings.Sowing, cultivation and harvesting are timed according to cosmicrhythms.
Being OrganicBenefit to Land : Soil, being a living organism, loves to cooperate when it comes to farming or gardening. A green thumb is prone to appear on those who ally themselves with its requirements for health. It improves Soil Capillarity. Soil erosion, Percolation also controlled. PH of the Soil will remain Neutral. (PH 6 to 7). Improves microbial activity of micro organism and macro organism in Soil. Water Holding Capacity also increased. Soil becomes Light, Soil aeration also increased.
Being OrganicOrganic Manure Used : Organic Pesticides and Herbicides used : Farmyard Manure Neem Oil Organic Compost Derris elliptica oil Compost from dry Leaves Ocimum basilicum oil Compost Water Plant Beauveria bassiana Vermi Compost Metarhizium anisopliae Green Manure Pseudomonas Azolla Trichoderma Viride Blue Green Algae Bio -Fertilizer Herbicides (Weed Control) Azospirillum Mulching Azotobactor Manually Acetobactor Phosphate Solubilising Bacteria.
Organic herbal teaOrganic herbal tea basically implies a blend of herbs that are grownorganically. So to speak these herbs contain an abundance ofantioxidants that have multiple health benefits at the physical,emotional and mental level. In scientific terminology these herbscontain polyphenol oxidase. This means profuse amount ofantioxidants.Tea blends made from organic herbal blends are known to protect thecells of the body from oxidative stress. This is a natural processwhereby the oxidation process produces free radicals. These areknown to mutilate the cells of the human body.
Organic herbal teaThus, though oxygen is vital for life, you need to take necessarymeasures to prevent accumulation of the free radicals also known astoxins. These toxins are responsible for the build up of ailments andillnesses at the physical and mental levels. A proper in take ofantioxidants help flush out toxins. And this is one of the major benefitsof organic herbal tea.Regular consumption of organic herbal tea is known to prevent cancer,heart attack and even cataract. It is also used as a supplementary forpatients suffering from these mentioned ailments and diseases.You must be wondering how these work. Basically organically grownherbs contain antioxidants known as polyphenols. These can separatethe harmful bacteria from the health promoting ones that accumulate inthe body.
Organic herbal teaOrganic herbs are considered to be a healthy option, as they are grownfree off harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In fact the pesticidesand fertilizers are the natural ones. Those practicing vermicultureacross the globe have been able to cultivate some natural options forfertilizers and pesticides.You can grow organic herbs in your backyard, thus making your owntea blends from these naturally growing medicinal plants. To do so themost important thing is to plan what types of herbs you require thatwould benefit you and the family.First you should study the ideal conditions for growing these herbs andfollow certain ground rules laid by some of the experts.
Organic herbal teaThese include: 1. Remove all weeds 2. The area should be exposed to sufficient sunlight 3. Use compost as a natural fertilizer, which is available at various organic product stores and nurseries 4. You must cycle the herbs being grown, instead of growing the same herb at the same spot each time 5. You should be completely aware of the appropriate climatic conditions for the herbs you intend growing
Organic herbal teaIdeally the soil in which you grow the herbs should be well manuredwith compost or other organic options. This will make the plantsresistant to disease and insects.In fact as most organic farmers claim, the health of the herbs and plantsdepend on the health of the soil.And to go a step further a healthy and health-promoting infusion oforganic herbs will ensure a disease free life for you and the entirefamily
Organic Herbs Gardening Cultivation TipsAre you an organic gardener thinking about growing your own herbs?Have you been dreaming about the wonderful aroma of sweet basil; orperhaps the taste of savory and chemical free oregano in your pastasauce? Even if you’re a novice gardener concerned about the use ofchemical pesticides and herbicides, you’ll be glad to know that organicherbs are as easy to grow as they are pleasing to your senses.The information on your way to enjoying organic herbs in your homeand garden.
Organic Herbs GardeningTHE ALLURE OF HERBSMany things come to mind when we think of growing and using herbs.For example, the spicy and piney scent of rosemary growing in thegarden, a steaming hot cup of mint tea, an aromatic bath with lavender,or a delicious Italian meal with lots of oregano and garlic.If you’ve ever come down with a cold and wanted to naturally boostyour immune system, you’ve probably relied on herbs such asEchinacea or Goldenseal. Additionally, many herbs can be used ascoloring agents, cosmetics, and natural room deodorizers.Not to mention that the simple act of growing herbs in your home orgarden is a relaxing and rewarding experience.
Organic Herbs GardeningWHAT IS AN HERB?Herbs have so many uses and play such a vital role in our lives, buthow exactly do we define what an herb is? According to one dictionary,an herb can be defined as "a seed-producing annual, biennial, orperennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies downat the end of a growing season."Furthermore, we can define an herb as "a plant or plant part valued forits medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities.“Savory, aromatic, and medicinal, these are the basic properties wespeak of when we talk about herbs. We can also think of the joy ofusing herbs as ornamentals. So let’s move on and begin exploring thiswonderful, healthy, and exotic world of organic herbal gardening!
Organic Herbs GardeningHERB HISTORYWe can look to practically every culture around the world to learnsomething about the history of herbs. The Chinese have a long historyof using herbs for medicinal purposes.Some Chinese herb books date from about 2700 B.C. and haveextensive lists of medicinal plants. India is the home of Ayurvedicherbal medicine which is based on long-established Hindu traditionsand is still practiced today.Indigenous cultures throughout the world have used herbs for centuriesfor anything from tanning leather to curing hair loss. When we think ofaroma, Italy, India and Thailand may come to mind for a proud historyof using herbs in the kitchen.
Organic Herbs GardeningThe Greeks and Romans had the unusual practice of crowning theirheroes with dill and laurel. The Greeks also used mint leaves as asoothing bath lotion for their athletes. Greek physician Hippocrates(460 - 377 B.C.) used herbs extensively in his medical practice.You don’t have to look far from home to learn something about thehistory of herbs. You can think about your favorite recipes and their origins and maybeeven ask a parent or grandparent the story behind their culinary secretsregarding herbs.
Organic Herbs GardeningGROWING ORGANIC HERBSThe Secret to Organic Herb GardeningPeople have been growing herbs organically for centuries. It is onlyrecently with the advent of chemical pesticides and herbicides thatwe’ve lost this knowledge and have chosen the convenience ofchemicals.Traditionally, herbs were harvested in the wild from their native habitatsand then later they were domesticated to be grown in gardens.So really , the secret to successful organic herb gardening, or organicgardening of any kind, is to understand how nature works and howthese plants grow in their natural setting. If we try to approximate theenvironment in which plants grow in the wild, we tend will have ahealthier and more natural garden.
Organic Herbs GardeningThe Nature of Plants and HerbsWhen you look at your garden, consider that your herbs, trees, flowersand other plants all share common properties. They always try tomaintain equilibrium—the point of perfect balance. Water and nutrientsare absorbed into the root system and pulled up through the stems intothe leaves.The plants then use Photosynthesis with the raw ingredients of waterand energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into carbohydratesthat plants use for growth and other plant functions.Carbohydrates are stored in the branches and stems of herbs andother plants. These stored carbohydrates are used as reserve energyfor the plant. When a crisis occurs, such as a broken stem orpathogenic attack, a plant can use these stored carbohydrates. Storedcarbohydrates are also used in the spring to create new stems andfoliage.
Organic Herbs GardeningSoil organisms, from earthworms to fungi, provide needed nutrients toplant roots. A healthy root system allows herbs and other plants tocreate chemicals that repel pathogens and chemicals that attractbeneficial bacteria and other soil organisms. Yes, your herbs do havean immune system.A pathogenic attack, whether it is white flies or a fungal infection, isalways caused by the same problem—an imbalance in the plant. Whenherbs or other plants are near the point of perfect equilibrium,pathogens are less likely to attack them.When your plants are sick, they are out of balance. If you find out thecause of the imbalance and fix it, the disease will generally go away.
Organic Herbs GardeningThe most frequent problem we see with herbs and other garden plantsis with the soil. The fix-all for most soil problems is to add organicmaterial to the soil. Composting and mulching is a great way to recycleorganic waste material from you home and use it as hummus in yourgarden.Other common problems that affect plant health are root damage, abuild-up of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, over-pruning, and toomuch or too little water. A good way to prevent over or under wateringis with a Soil Moisture Tester. Giving your plant too much or too littlelight can also affect their health.
Organic Herbs GardeningOne more important thing to look at is what other plants can be found inyour garden and their compatibility with the herbs you wish to grow.Plants in the wild often grow close together because they share amutually beneficial relationship.You can duplicate these relationships at home. Many herbs will actuallybenefit the health of your garden, attracting beneficial insects ofrepelling pests with their strong scent.However, some plants won’t get along together in your garden and arenot recommended to plant together. This concept is known ascompanion planting.
Organic Herbs GardeningCompanion PlantsSimply put, some plants grow well together and some don’t. If you startto grow certain herbs in your flower or vegetable garden, the resultingcombination of plants may help all the plants to be healthier. If youhave a garden of strictly herbs, the addition of flowers or vegetablescan also be beneficial for overall garden health.A classic example of companion planting long known to NativeAmericans is the “Three Sisters” combination of corns, beans, andsquash. The beans serve as nitrogen-fixers for the other plants, thebeans climb the stalks of corn, and the squash shades the ground tohold in moisture.
Organic Herbs GardeningPlanning your Herb Garden -- Where to Begin?Your herb garden can take many forms—from a couple of potted herbsin your kitchen, to a large and diverse plot in your yard.The most challenging part of growing herbs can actually be decidingwhich to plant! Answering the following questions may also be helpful: Do you want herbs mostly for culinary, ornamental or medicinal purposes? How much room do you have to plant your herbs?
Organic Herbs Gardening• Will you plant them with vegetables or flowers? If so, you may want to consider texture, height, color, fragrance, and any other factors that affect the appearance and attractiveness of your garden.• Where do you plan or planting your herbs? Is it a sunny or shady place? Note that most herbs need at least six hours of light, and others like shade.• Do you plan on growing herbs in containers or in the ground?• Answering these questions may generate others that will help you plan out your garden. Writing out your ideas and making sketches is a great way to start visualizing your garden.
Organic Herbs GardeningCreating your GardenYou can begin creating your herb, herb/vegetable, or herb/flowergarden now that you know the basics.Adding a few herbs to your vegetable or flower garden is easy. Justpick some herbs out at the nursery and consider the issues ofcompanion planting previously mentioned.Experiment with the herbs to see what looks good with your existingplants and continue trying different combinations.
Organic Herbs GardeningIf you want to create a new plot, you will need to do a little moreplanning. A good sized kitchen garden will take up around 90 squarefeet. When you begin planning, take a look at your house and its colorsand shapes, as well as existing lawns, driveways, walkways, etc.Keep colors and heights of the other plants in yard in mind as you plan.Also think about the possibility of adding raised beds, borders,walkways, benches, trellises, and other peripherals to the space youhave to work with.
Organic Herbs GardeningYou can consider purchasing several samples of each of the herbs andother plants you are thinking of using and placing them in theappropriate locations in your mapped-out garden. You can take backthe ones that aren’t quite right and purchase others.After designing your plot, the next step is to start preparing your soil sothat it’s ready to receive your plants. As mentioned above, one of thebest things you can do to insure a healthy garden is to have healthysoil.
Organic Herbs GardeningSoil Basics for Herb GardeningSoil is often divided into various categories, such as clay, sand, silt,loam, and peat, although there are actually an infinite number of soilvarieties. Soil compositions vary in organic matter, large and smallrocks, minerals, pH, and other factors.Most gardeners consider soil that has a combination of sand, silt, clay,and organic matter to be good soil. Measuring the pH of your soil isalso a good indicator of how your herbs will perform and will help youdetermine if you need to make changes to the soil composition.
Organic Herbs GardeningpH and Herb GardeningpH is a scale used to measure the concentration of hydrogen ions in asolution. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Acidic substances havesmaller pH numbers and more hydrogen ions.Alkaline substances have larger pH numbers and fewer hydrogen ions.0 is extremely acid; 7 is neutral; and 14 is extremely alkaline.Limestone is an example of a very alkaline mineral. Sulfur is anexample of a very acidic mineral. Note that arid regions tend to havealkaline soils and regions with heavy rainfall tend to have acidic soils.
Organic Herbs GardeningAlthough the pH scale only has a 0 to 14 range, it is a logarithmic scalethat is designed to measure vast differences. Think of the Ritcher Scaleof earthquake magnitude as another example of a logarithmic scale.For example, a pH of 7 is neutral, but a pH of 6 is ten times more acidthan a neutral 7. A pH of 5 is a hundred times more acid than a neutral7, and a pH of 4 is a thousand times more acid than a neutral 7.Likewise, a pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a neutral 7. A pH of9 is a hundred times more alkaline than a neutral 7, and a pH of 10 is athousand times more alkaline than a neutral 7.A pH of 6.5 is considered the point where nitrogen, phosphorous,potassium and the trace minerals that plants need to grow are mosteasily available to your herbs.
Organic Herbs GardeningTesting Your SoilTo test your soil, it is a good idea to dig out samples from severalplaces to see what the soil is like. Soil that hasn’t been worked isseldom ready for new plantings. It may have too much clay, too muchsand, tons of rocks, very little organic material, a high or low pH, orother issues that you’ll need to deal with before you plant.A good way to test the texture of your soil is with the “Ribbon Test.”After you take a soil sample, roll it back and forth in your hand. If itsticks together easily, it is high in clay, if it simply falls apart, it isprobably has a lot of sand.Clay soils don’t drain well and are difficult for the roots to penetrate.Sandy soils drain well but don’t retain nutrients. Adding organic materialwill help both sandy and clay soilsYou can test the pH of your soil with a simple pH testing kit.
Organic Herbs GardeningA good quality pH test kit is worth the extra expense becauseinexpensive ones are often inaccurate. Remember that most herbsgrow well with a soil pH between 6 and 7, although a pH of 6.5 is idealfor most herbs.The most accurate way to test the overall health of your soil is with aGarden Soil Testing Kit. These kits are relatively inexpensive and comein various styles.You can even buy an electronic soil tester that will also test the pH, aswell as fertility, how much light you are getting, and other aspects ofherb gardening.
Organic Herbs GardeningThe Magic of HumusIf your soil is extremely acid, which can happen in an area with heavyrainfall, or with soil that has had overdoses of chemical N-P-K fertilizer,you may need to add limestone to ‘sweeten’ the soil.Adding compost can also work wonders if your soil is out of the idealpH range. This technique will also improve soil that is too sandy, hastoo much clay, or is low in the organic material that plants need tothrive. If you don’t know much about composting, don’t worry. You canfind more information on composting at the Compost Guide.Soil drainage is also critical to herb gardening. Mixing in compost is thebest way to improve drainage. You can also try digging out a goodquantity of the soil, around 16 inches deep, and placing a layer of finegravel at the bottom.
Organic Herbs GardeningMulchIf you don’t have humus available from well composted material, youcan help your garden through mulching. Mulching is nature’s way ofcomposting. Forests provide a good example of nature’s mulching andcomposting system.Forests are a complete growing community. Everything in a forest isrelated and works together. Leaves and dead branches fall from treesand other forest plants.Bacteria, fungi, nematodes, earthworms, and other habitants of the soilhelp break down the leaves and other debris into humus. Humus is anatural living environment that benefits tree and plant roots.
Organic Herbs GardeningTo reproduce the mulch that forests naturally create, you can usegarden waste from your home, such as shredded leaves, hay,shredded bark, or other similar substance.By spreading the material over the top of your garden dirt, you aremimicking the decomposing leaves and branches that make up a forestfloor.Mulching helps to keep weeds from growing and facilitates moistureretention in the soil. Mulching also begins the process of naturalcomposting. Between treatments, soil organisms help to decomposethe mulch that is closest to the ground.Earthworms and other critters that live in the soil pull compostedmaterial into the ground and naturally feed your plant’s roots.
Organic Herbs GardeningYou should add a little more mulch each year to your garden to keepthe process going. You can use mulch even when your soil is inexcellent shape.The mulch will keep the soil healthy and productive. You can furthersupport your soil by adding a dose of organic fertilizerYour mulch will work best when you add this natural fertilizer over theentire herb/flower/vegetable bed so that the whole area will graduallybecome healthier.
Organic Herbs GardeningPLANTING YOUR HERB GARDENTips for an outdoor herb gardenAn easy way to get started with your garden is to purchase starterplants from your local nursery and plant them in your garden in thespring. It can however be difficult to find a nursery that hasn’t alreadytreated their starter plants with chemicals. Ask around to find a nurserydedicated to organic gardening. There are more and more popping upevery day.The best way to ensure that your garden starts out chemical free is togrow your own starter plants. Most herbs are easily grown from seed.Plant your seeds indoors in shallow containers a month or so beforethe start of spring.Use a well-drained soil specifically designed for seedlings and makesure not to plant the seeds too deeply.
Organic Herbs GardeningAs a general rule, the bigger the seed, the deeper you should sowthem. Some herbs such as coriander and fennel don’t transplant wellso it’s best to sow them directly in your garden.A light, well-drained soil is good for starting the seedlings indoors.Water with a fine mist sprayer to avoid uncovered the seeds with theforce of the water. When your herbs have good growth and appearfirmly rooted in the soil, transplant them to your garden and give them agood drink right after transplanting.You can also grow some herbs through cuttings or divisions taken fromother organically grown plants. Lavender is a good plant to growthrough cuttings. You can divide and replant some herbs that tend tospread out, like mint.This is also a good way to keep mints, which spread easily, from takingover your garden.
Organic Herbs GardeningA light, well-drained soil is good for starting the seedlings indoors.Water with a fine mist sprayer to avoid uncovered the seeds with theforce of the water. When your herbs have good growth and appearfirmly rooted in the soil, transplant them to your garden and give them agood drink right after transplanting.You can also grow some herbs through cuttings or divisions taken fromother organically grown plants. Lavender is a good plant to growthrough cuttings. You can divide and replant some herbs that tend tospread out, like mint. This is also a good way to keep mints, whichspread easily, from taking over your garden.As far as pests are concerned, there are only a few you need to worryabout with most herbs. Be on the lookout for red spider mites andaphids particularly. If you plant mints, check periodically for rust. Youcan mix a little castile soap with water and use a fine sprayer to washoff your herbs periodically to prevent these common pests.
Organic Herbs GardeningTips for an indoor herb gardenAgain, soil is the key for growing herbs indoors. You can cut a standardpotting soil with a little sand or gravel to ensure proper drainage.You can quickly kill potted herbs by leaving their feet wet. A good wayto avoid this problem is to use a mist sprayer to give your herbs just ataste of water every now and then without drowning them. This willallow you to give them a deep watering less frequently.Placing your herbs by a south-facing window will insure that they getenough light. If you don’t have much light in your home or apartment,you may want to invest in a growing lamp, especially if you’re interestedin growing a large number of herbs indoors.
Organic Herbs GardeningYou can place potted perennial herbs outdoors during the summer togive them a little extra light and fresh air, but annuals will do fine if theystay indoors. As your perennial herbs grow, keep an eye on the roots tomake sure they don’t get root-bound.This problem is easy to solve by repotting your plants in a largercontainer as they start to get bigger. It’s also a good idea to change outthe soil from time to time even if your plants aren’t root-bound.Tips for using your herbsHerbs can be used fresh or dried. Air and oven drying are two simplemethods described below to prepare your herbs for future use.
Organic Herbs GardeningYou can also extract the essential oils of herbs by soaking the leaves,stems, roots, flowers, etc. in a bottle full of oil, such as olive oil. Seebelow for details. Other methods of preparing your herbs include withsalt or silica gel, but we recommend the above mentioned methodswhich are simple and effective.It’s best to use your herbs before they flower for maximum potency. Ifyou’re harvesting an annual, you can choose to use the entire plant, butif you’re using a perennial, prune off less than half of the plant toensure that it will regrow.After collecting the part you’re going to use, wash off any soil, and patthe herbs dry with a paper towel. Let the herbs air dry until theremaining moisture is gone.
Organic Herbs GardeningTie clusters of herbs together and hang them upside down in a dry,dark place that maintains a warm temperature. Check that the herbsare ready to use by testing to see if the leaves crumble, around twoweeks of drying. If you decide to dry your herbs in the oven, use a lowheat for a prolonged period of time. Try around 150 degrees Fahrenheitfor three hours.In the case that you’re harvesting seeds, place the seeds on a sheet ofpaper and let them dry out for a few days. Then, rub the seedsvigorously between your hands to remove the shells.
Organic Herbs GardeningDispose of the debris and continue to dry the seeds for a few moredays before using.As described above, you can extract the essential oils of herbs bysoaking the fresh or dried herbs in a caped bottle of oil. A sterilizedglass bottle that has been boiled in water for 10 minutes isrecommended.Olive oil works great as a base. Place the bottle in the sun for severaldays, and then strain the oil through cheesecloth, disposing of the usedplant in your compost bin. The oil can be used for cooking, or in thecase of medicinal plants, to make massage oils or salves.
GROWING HERBS ORGANICALLYThe best conditions for organic herbs are well-drained soil with plentyof organic matter (compost, shredded leaves, well-rotted straw, forexample ), and plenty of room and sun. If you dont have a well-drainedsite, raised beds work great, as do containers.Organic matter improves soil texture and drainage in clay soil andimproves water-holding capacity in sandy soils. It also creates an idealpH range of 6.5 to 7.The organic matter should be added several months before planting toallow it to break down and mix with the soil. Of course, fine compostcan be added and planted shortly thereafter. You can see that herbsrequire the same garden and soil conditions that vegetables andflowers prefer.
GROWING HERBS ORGANICALLYOnce your herbs are in the soil, dont forget to mulch to reduceevaporation, wind damage, and to keep soil temperatures constant.Organic mulches have the added benefit of breaking down andcontributing organic matter to the soil. Herbs that spread by runners,such as thyme, pennyroyal or oregano, should be mulched lightly,because of their expansive nature.Herbs that tolerate damp soils: Angelica, beebalm, boneset,meadowsweet, mints, lovage, and sweet flag (calamus).
GROWING HERBS ORGANICALLYHerbs that tolerate shady sites: Borage, chamomile, chervil, dill,evening primrose, goldenseal, lemon balm, oregano, parsley,pennyroyal, sweet cicely, sweet woodruff, valerian and violet .Herbs for dry locations with lots of sunlight: Common oregano, hyssoprosemary, sage, thyme,and winter savory.Herbs that tolerate poor dry soil: Rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram,thyme and winter savory.
BASILBasil is an annual herb that has delicate aromatic leaves, is very frostsensitive and is wonderful to eat when paired with tomatoes.Plant basil in a sunny spot in well-drained soil. Basil does not like coolweather--so plant it once the weather has warmed up. Basil can be grownquite easily from seed, or you can buy plants at the nursery.Removing any flowering shoots will ensure continued growth of freshyoung leaves.
BASILyou use basil to make pesto, you can freeze some in glass jars for lateruse. Or you can dry the leaves to use crumbled in pasta dishes, tomatosauces or on pizza.Basil is native to India, Africa and Asia. It is a member of the mintfamily and basil tea is used to quell digestive upsets such asindigestion or stomach cramps, and to reduce headaches andnausea. The French call basil "herbe royale."
BAY LEAFWreaths of victory have historically been made of leaves from the baylaurel tree. It has long been considered a symbol of glory, honor andgreatness.In ancient Greece and Rome, laurel wreaths crowned kings, priestsand revered poets, as well as the victors of battles and of scholarlycontests.Garlands woven of laurel were given to the champions of the firstOlympic games in 776BC.Bay is indigenous to theMediterranean area and Asia Minor.
Did you know?Herbalists recommend using bay leaf oil for snakebites, wasp and beestings, bruises, scrapes and many other ailments, includingrheumatism.Studies of the essential oils show it does contain properties that killbacteria and fungi. An infusion of bay leaf is said to soothe an upsetstomach and relieve gas pains.The bay tree is evergreen and can grow ten feet tall or taller, in theground. You can grow bay trees in areas with mild winters and warmsummers.If your climate includes harsh winters you will have to take extraprecautions, such as planting the tree in a large container and moving itindoors in the winter.
Did you know?Bay leaf is called for in many recipes for soups, stews, sauces andmarinades. Some cooks add a rubbed bay leaf to lentils, beans, rice orother grains.If you wonder why most recipes call for removing the bay leaves beforeserving, its because a sharp-pointed leaf may get stuck in a dinersthroat, which could be uncomfortable and painful!Some people scatter bay leaves in drawers to repel cockroaches andother pests.
Why Buy Organic Seeds?For Your Personal Health…Organic farming produces plants that are free of pesticides, herbicidesand their residues.For Your Children…Children receive four times the exposure of adults to at least eightwidely-used cancer-causing pesticides in the food chain. The choiceyou make now will impact your childs health in the future.For The Health Of Your Garden…Organic gardening encourages diverse plantings, works with crops thatpromote beneficial insects, and recycles nutrients with earthworms,composts and green manures.
Why Buy Organic Seeds?For Healthier Farm Workers…A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers exposed toherbicides had a six time greater risk than non-farmers of contractingcancer. Farm worker health also is a serious problem in developingnations, where pesticide use can be poorly regulated.For Small, Family Farmers…Although more large scale farms are making the conversion to organicpractices, most organic farms are small independently owned andoperated family farms of less than 100 acres. Its estimated that the UShas lost more than 650,000 family farms in the past decade.
Why Buy Organic Seeds?For Better Flavour…Theres a good reason many chefs use organic foods in their recipes.They taste better. Organic farming starts with organic seeds in thenutrients of the soil which leads to the nourishment of the plant andultimately our palates.Build And Protect Top Soil…Soil is the organic farmers most revered tool. Rather than relying onsynthetic fertilizers, they build their soil through natural amenities, suchas composted manure, and by planting diverse crops. Organic farmersrespect the soil and view it as the foundation of the food chain.
Why Buy Organic Seeds?Protect Water Quality…The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that pesticides havecontaminate ground water in 38 states, polluting the primary source ofdrinking water for more than half the countrys population.Organic growers and processors use practices that eliminate pollutingchemicals and nitrogen leaching, and thus protect and conserveprecious water resources.
Why Buy Organic Seeds?Preserve Biodiversity…Many organic growers have been collecting and using heirloom seedvarieties for decades. On the other hand, many conventional farms stillgrow hybridized vegetables and fruits, bred for uniformity, ease ofshipping and cosmetic appearance.Such "modern" concerns have ignored the value of preserving adiversity of seed varieties, and therefore a more balanced ecosystem.
Why Buy Organic Seeds? Represent A True Economy…Current prices for conventionally grown foods do not reflect the costs offederal subsidies to conventional agriculture, the cost of contaminateddrinking water, loss of wildlife habitat and soil erosion, or the cost of thedisposal and clean up of hazardous wastes generated by themanufacturing of pesticides.For The Health Of Our Planet…When you buy organically grown seeds, your dollars cast a vote for amore sustainable environment & healthier planet.
Indian HerbsIndian herbs are renowned all over the world for their medicinalproperties. India is the second highest producer of medicinal herbs inthe world after China. Himalayas, Aravalis, and Nilgiri mountains arethe greatest reserves of medicinal herbs in India.Ayurveda, the traditional Indian form of medicine, has been using herbsfor thousand of years. These Ayurvedic herbs are very effective inincreasing the body resistance and are used in the treatment of variousdiseases.
India – the land of spicesIndia grows over 50 different varieties of spices. Total production isaround 2.7 million tonnes. Of this, about 0.25 million tonnes (8-10 percent) is exported to more than 150 countries. The Indian share of theworld trade in spices is 45-50 per cent by volume (25 per cent in valueterms).
Organic cultivationIn recent years, organic agriculture has been gaining considerableimportance. Many farmers today show interest in organic cultivation.Several of them have begun switching to this traditional method ofcultivation as a means to produce safe foodstuffs and preserve theenvironment. The concept of sustainable farming has caught on inIndia.
World Demand for organic foodsThe world demand for organically produced foods is growing rapidly indeveloped countries like Europe, USA, Japan and Australia.The current estimated share of organic foods in these countries isapproximately 1 to 1.5 per cent. Worldwide, food trends are changingwith a marked health orientation.Since organic foods are free from chemical contaminants, the demandfor these products should steadily increase in the new millennium.
World Demand for organic foodsAccording to the ITC,UNCTAD/GAT, more than 130countries produce certifiedorganic foods. 100 of them arefrom Asia and Africa.Internationally, theres a definiteshift towards traditional / ethnicmedicines. Since spices form partof many of these medicines, thedemand for organically producedspices should grow.
World Demand for organic foodsOrganic cultivation is nothing new to India.The country has always been practicingthe traditional ways of using indigenoustechnologies and inputs mostly in line withmodern organic farming principles.The per capita consumption of fertilizersand pesticides in India is far below that ofdeveloped countries. Which means, it isvery easy for Indian farmers to embraseorganic spice farming in its true sense.Spice Board of India has taken a majorinitiative in promoting the production andexport of organic spices in a big way.
The Indian InitiativeExport of organic spices from India has started in right earnest. The country atpresent exports around 50 tones of different varieties of organic spices. Exportswill get a significant boost in the coming years as more farmers switch toorganic methods.
The Indian InitiativeSpices Board India has prepared a document on production of organicspices. It features the organic concepts, principles, basic standards,production guidelines, documentation, inspection and certification. Thedocument has been published after approval by the National StandardsCommittee constituted by the members of IFOAM in India.Research Programmes on organic cultivation of important spices havecommenced. The work is carried out at the Spices Boards IndianCardamom Research Institute at ldukki District in Kerala. Besidesorganizing demonstrations to educate and motivate prospective organicspice growers, the Board is simultaneously involved in trainingProgrammes to existing spice growers on organic principles andpractices.
Indian HerbsAbrus PrecatoriusAloe VeraCinnamonBasilGuggalSafed MusliAshwagandhaLemongrassPiper LongumManjishthaSandalwood
Abrus Precatorius Family Name: Fabaceae Botanical Name(s): Abrus precatorius Popular Name(s): Rosary Pea, Jequerity, Crabs Eye, Precatory Bean, Tento Muido, Cain Ghe, Graines Reglisse, Weesboontje, Rakat, Hint Meyankoku, Hung Tou, Jequerit, Liane Reglisse, Ma Liao Tou, Paratella, Paternoster. Parts Used: Seeds, leaves Habitat: Throughout Central India
Description & UsesAbrus precatorius is a twining herb with delicate feathery leaves.Flowers are rose to purple growing at the end of a stalk. Fruits are shortpods containing hard, shiny, scarlet and black seeds.Abrus precatorius roots are used for gonorrhoea, jaundice andhaemoglobinuric bile. The oil extracted from seeds is said to promotethe growth of human hair. Abrus precatorius is also used as anabortifacient, laxative, sedative and aphrodisiac.
ManjishthaFamily Name: RubiaceaeBotanical Name(s): Rubia TinctoriaPopular Name(s): Indian Madder, Manjishtha, Manjit Gandari,Manchatti, Manjishta.Parts Used: Root and FruitHabitat: This is a climbing plant found in the Himalayas and hillstations in India
Description & UsesA very variable, prickly creeper or climber. The leaves are veryvariable. The flowers are small, white or greenish or in shades of redand yellow, sweet-scented in terminal panicles of cymes; the fruits,globose or slightly 2-lobed, dark-purplish or black, fleshy with 2 smallseeds.This herb is also used to cleanse and regulate liver, spleen, pancreas,and kidneys. The fruit is useful in hepatic obstructions. Root pasteremoves freckles, and discoloration of the skin. It helps in bloodcirculation and purification, cancer and diarrhea.
Piper LongumFamily Name: PiperaceaeBotanical Name(s): Piper LongumPopular Name(s): Indian Long Pepper, Long Pepper, Dried Catkins,Pippali, Pipal, Tippli, PihalParts Used: Fruit, Root and StemHabitat: Mostly deciduous to evergreen forests
Description & UsesPiper Longum is a slender, aromatic, climber with perennial woodyroots, creeping and jointed stems and fleshy fruits embedded in thespikes.Piper Longum is most commonly used to treat respiratory infectionssuch as stomachache, bronchitis and diseases of the spleen, cough,tumors and asthma.
CinnamonFamily Name: LauraceaeBotanical Name(s): Cinnamomum ZeylanicumPopular Name(s): Cinnamon, Tvak, Dalchini, Daruchini Karuva,Vazhana, TamalapatraParts Used: BarkHabitat: This plant is indigenous to India and Sri Lanka.
Description & UsesThe cinnamon is an evergreen tree with light brown, papery bark andleathery leaves. The tree shows small, yellow-white clusters of flowersin summer, after which oval, purple berries appear.Cinnamon is used internally to stop digestive problems - especiallywhen accompanied by flatulence and cramping, as well as diarrhea,vomiting and gastroenteritis. Its warming action is used to treat coldand flu as well as arthritis and rheumatism.
Lemongrass Family Name: Poaceae Botanical Name(s): Cymbopogon Citratus, Cymbopogon Flexuosus Popular Name(s): Lemongrass, Ginger Grass Parts Used: Lemongrass leaves, lemongrass oil Habitat: Cultivated in North India.
Description & UsesLemon grass is a long thick grass with leaves at the top and a solidportion several inches long at the root end. The lower portion is slicedor pounded.As a medicinal plant, lemongrass has been considered a carminativeand insect repellent. Lemongrass is used in herbal teas and othernonalcoholic beverages in baked goods, and in confections. Oil fromlemongrass is widely used as a fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics.
SandalwoodFamily Name: SantalaceaeBotanical Name(s): Santalum AlbumPopular Name(s): Sandalwood, Chandana, White sandalwood,Yellow Sandalwood, Chandan, Chandanam, SrigandhaParts Used: Wood and OilHabitat: Sandalwood is a small tree that grows primarily in India.
Description & UsesThe wood of its stem grows from 20 to 30 feet high, is heavy andstraight-grained and varies in color. It is white when young and yellowand orange in color when it is old. Its oval leaves are covered with awhitish bloom; its small flowers are varying in color.On the skin, sandalwood essential oil helps to moisturize and hydrateageing, dry or flaky skin, relieving itching and inflammation and itsastringent action balances oily skin conditions. It helps to clear up a drycough and boosts the digestive system, especially helpful in diarrhea. Itis used to treat general chest complaints.
GuggalFamily Name: BurseraceaeBotanical Name(s): Commiphora MukulPopular Name(s): Commiphora, Mukul, Guggul, BalsamodendromMukul, Indian Bdellium Tree, Moql, Moqle-arzagiParts Used: Whole PlantHabitat: Rocky tracks of Western India and Eastern Himalayas.
Description & UsesGuggul is a resin, which is produced by the stem of the commiphoramukul tree, a relatively small, thorny plant native to India. HistoricallyGuggul has been used in connection with a wide variety of conditions,including rheumatism and obesity.It is Carminative, Anti suppurative Gum resin used for treatment ofrheumatoid arthritis. It is a potent drug for cardiac disorders highcholesterol. It is an ingredient for over fifty compounds.
AshwagandhaFamily Name: SolanaceaeBotanical Name(s): Withania somniferaPopular Name(s): Withania, Winter cherry, Indian winter cherry,Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha, Ashgandh, Achuvagandi Ashgandh.Parts Used: Root and LeavesHabitat: Cultivated throughout drier parts of India.
Description & UsesAshwagandha is an important herb used in Ayurveda. Ashwagandha isan erect branched shrub with greenish or lurid yellow flowers.Ashwagandha in India is akin to ginseng in other parts of the orient.It is official Indian Pharmacopoeia. It is popularly known as IndianGinseng. It gives vitality and vigor and helps in building greaterendurance. It has been used in diseases such as rheumatism, leprosyand arthritis.
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