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Sage, lavender and mint Oh my :)

These perennial herbs are ripe for the picking right about now and make a superb simmering potpourri to scent the air inside on cool fall nights.

I use sage in a big pot on top of my wood stove to keep my sinuses clean over winter. The extra moisture in the air also helps to make the house feel warmer too..

While packing in some wood and glancing over at my sage bush which has been in for nearly 15 years now I got thinking about it and some others that would work well with it and decide to do some research..

Here's what I found :)

Sage - Salvia sp.

Sage has been highly valued in many cultures for thousands of years. The genus Salvia comes from the Latin verb "salvere" which means to be in good heath, to save or to cure. The Romans considered sage sacred and actually harvested it in ritual fashion dressed in white and after making a sacrifice of bread and wine would approach the plant with bare feet to harvest this precious herb.

The Chinese were rumored to trade tea three for one by volume for sage with the Dutch in the 1600's due to it's medicinal properties.

Sage is relatively easy to grow. It likes sun but will do in half day morning sun as is the case with mine. I have in somewhat loose well drained soil on the east side of my house planted up against the foundation. It has been reliable and hardy there with utter neglect. I did water and feed it some for the first couple of years :)

Culinary uses include using the flowers in tossed salads. The leaves can be used dried and crumbled as a sprinkled seasoning. On many a Thanksgiving I've stuffed the family with my sage dressing :)
I start out with a pot of boiling water and toss handfuls of fresh sage leaves in with some chopped onion. Once it's cooked down a bit I dump in a couple of loaves of toasted bread and fluff the mix with a big fork. After I've had some whatever's left goes in the bird and baking pans to brown for the meal :) mmmmmboy! makes me hungry just thinking about it!

I also recently saw a recipe I'm dying to try where you dip fresh sage or basil leaves in batter and fry them 'til golden brown just like fried vegetables.. I'm kind of an "on the fly" cook that seldom follows a recipe verbatim but if you'd like the fried leaf recipe written out drop me an email and I'll send it to you :)

Medicinal uses for sage....

The seed of Clary sage infused in water can be used as an eye wash to remove foreign material from eyes painlessly.

Leaves are used to aid digestion and as an antiseptic and are also used to help combat diarrhea. The leaves are often taken as a sage sandwich.. Sage tea and wine are used as nerve and blood tonics. Sage tea is also used to reduce sweating, soothe cough and colds and since sage contains estrogen it has also been used to treat irregular menstruation and menopause.

Of interest to partygoers :)
Clary sage beer was once revered for it's intoxicating properties :)

Lavender------

This plant gets it's name from the Latin verb "lavare" which means "to wash". It was favored by Ancient Greek and Roman culture as an additive to bathwater for it's fresh and clean scent.

In medieval times it was scattered about to repel insects and mask the foul smells that those less hygienic times inevitably generated :)
I read one story that said the glovers of Grasse used it to scent their fashionable leather goods and were remarkably free from the plague. This encouraged a practice to carry lavender to ward off the plague. The "ring around the Rosie" nursery rhyme comes from that time. The lavender being equivalent to "the pocket full of posies". The "ashes, ashes" the bodies that were burned and indeed many Europeans did "all fall down"..
At least they smelled good huh? :)

Lavender's medicinal uses include drinking it as a tea for headaches, calming nerves, ease flatulence, fainting, dizziness and halitosis. The essential oil is used as an antiseptic, a mild sedative or as a painkiller for insect bites or stings.
Adding six drops to bathwater is said to calm irritable children. Using it as a massage oil in aromatherapy helps with throat infections, skin sores, inflammation, rheumatic aches, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Lavender prefers sunny open spots with good air circulation and sandy well drained alkaline soil.
Good drainage is the key with this plant. It does not like wet feet!

Mint-----

Ahhhh.. all nice and minty fresh! hehe,,,

Mint gets it's name from Greek mythology.
Minthe was a nymph beloved of Pluto and his jealous wife fixed her hubby by turning his cute little lover into a mint plant.. I'll bet she's minty fresh! Nyuk!

Mint has had cultural significance as well.
Biblical reference is made where the Pharisees collect tithes paid in mint, dill and cumin.
The Hebrews would place mint on synagogue floors.
This practice was repeated later in Italian churches where it was given the name "Erba Santa Maria".
The Romans used it to flavor wines and sauces.
I read one account where Roman women, banned from drinking wine, would do so on the sly and then chew up mint leaves to mask their breath! Some things never change huh? :)

But ocifer, I'm not as think as you drunk I am!
I don't think "minty fresh" will fool a modern breathalyzer :)

Mint has been bred and hybridized with a passion since ancient times and one ninth century monk was quoted as saying that he'd rather count the sparks in Vulcan's furnace than all the varieties of mint!

Today there are nearly 600 different cultivars.

Mint is relatively easy to grow but can be invasive if set free in good rich soil. It prefers good drainage and sun but I have seen it survive a multitude of conditions. I've had spots here on the range where a mint display was set sprouting mint up from roots long after the plants had been moved.

It makes a wonderful addition to the potpourri pot also.

I have often grabbed up a handful and made tea when I'm out of pop.. Like mom would say it's probably better than all that pop anyway! :)

Wherever we turn from toothpaste to gum to candy our lives are minted but there's really no substitute for fresh :) (minty fresh?)

Spearmints are used medicinally as an inhalant for relief from colds. Peppermints as a tea to help digestion colds and flu. Sipping cold tea is said to relieve hiccups and flatulence.
Both of these can also be used in massage oil for relief of rheumatic and muscular aches.

One reference I encountered warned of taking Pennyroyal in large doses when pregnant or suffering from kidney problems.
Pennyroyal is also supposed to repel ants and fleas from beds and cupboards :)

Well, that's a wrap for this issue..

I'm hungry (as usual) and I think I'm gonna sauté' some sage leaves in butter and have me a sandwich!

Don't forget to email me your herb favorites :)
We're starting that project this week...

 


'til next time,

Happy gardening!

Alice