Saturday, January 31, 2015

Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory--Part Two!

Herbs by Jennie Harding (2008)
As I said in my first post about the 2015 Herb of the Year, I don't have many savory photos in my archive.  So I will be using book covers to illustrate which book I am discussing.  So here is Herbs a color guide to herbs and herbal healing by Jennie Harding from 2008.  Only the second book and already I found that the author uses a botanical name that I am unfamiliar with, 'Satureia' instead of 'Satureja'.  Although in the A-Z List of Herbs by Common Name, she lists the more recent 'Satureja hortensis' for summery savory.  I found in her description about the botanical name that Satureia came from the Roman soldier, lawyer and writer, Pliny the Elder and is also linked to the satyr, a mythical figure, half man and half goat.  It was also considered an aphrodisiac.  Savory leaves were used in Roman meat recipes and had a peppery taste that was used before the introduction of other spices.  Summer savory is used as a companion plant to beans to keep away black fly and other pests and it pairs so nicely with beans as a seasoning.

Nicholas Culpeper in the 1600's used savory in a syrup for a winter remedy for coughs and phlegm.  The leaves are the main part of the plant used.  It is used as an antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, digestive tonic and an expectorant.   Ms. Harding says it is used to treat indigestion, gas, bloating.  Use the leaves in a tea after meals to give a calming effect.  An infusion of fresh savory leaves with a teaspoon of honey, taken 2 or 3 times daily helps soothes a cough that has settled in the chest area.  Fresh leaves rubbed on a bee or wasp sting will help alleviate pain and redness.  When cooking beans, savory is used  to improve flavor and helps prevent gas.  She also mentions one of my favorite ways to use savory and that is in an egg omelet.  The essential oil of savory should not be used by pregnant women as it "can stimulate menstrual bleeding."

Ms. Harding's book has beautiful photos of the herbs on black backgrounds as to highlight the shape and color of the individual herbs.  Concise descriptions makes for easy reading.  There is a gallery of herbs that gives you a miniature photo of each herb and its botanical name.  She gives information on ailments and remedies, active herbal ingredients, using herbs safely, container herb gardening, herbal preparations and a glossary and resources page among other sections.

A beautiful day in the herb garden but very cold.  Getting ready for another snowstorm.  We didn't have much snow to start the winter season and now it is coming in chunks.  Gosh, January is done already!  I'm hoping to post a few more posts in February than I have so far!  Hope you are staying warm wherever in the world you may be.  Talk to you later.      

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Layer of Snow in the Herb Garden!

Finally, Some Snow for Insulation!
We have had a really up and down winter this season.  Some days very cold and some cool or warm for the season.  We were very low on snow which you may think would be a plus and on most days it is.  If you have a bit of snow though, it is likely that most herbs will be protected and you will have a chance of getting them through the winter.  We have about four inches on the ground with a little more to come.  It also looks like we are going to have one clipper from Canada after another for several days.  So can't crow too much about no snow!  Looks like we are going to have snow cover for awhile. 

We only have about eight weeks until the end of March!  Been looking through the seed catalogs and doing some reading about savory and stitching some projects.  A busy time even without the herb garden.  Hope you are enjoying your break!  Will talk more about savory for my next post.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Twenty Days In And Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory, All of Them!

The First Book I Read About Savory 20 Days Ago!
Oh, maybe not ALL of them in this one post!  Well, I really have been reading most days about savory since January 1.  I just haven't been talking about it with you.  So here goes.  The first book that I pulled out of one of my book cases was Exotic Herbs by Carole Saville.  As most of you know, I am an herb plant collector and love the different and exotic herbs, just not the ordinary ones.  So I just thought I would do the same idea that I had for my favorite, lemon verbena that is to pick out a book look in the index and read the pages about savory.

Of course, with this first book, Carole Saville doesn't really talk about the two savorys you are thinking about, summer or winter.  Her focus is about Pink Savory (Satureja thymbra).  It is definitely a tender perennial (Zones 8-9) for us in the northern part of the U.S.  It is native to Sardinia, Greece, Crete and the eastern Mediterranean.

It grows to about one foot tall.  It is very flavorful despite its size and its flavor is hotter than summer savory with oregano accents.  It grows on dry, stony hillsides in its native countries.  Ms. Saville says "Pink savory was known to the seventeenth century herbalists, Gerard and Parkinson, who called it Wild Time of Candy.  "Time" being thyme and "candy" the then name for the island of Crete."  Other common names are goat thyme and Roman, Greek and European hyssop.

It is found in herb nursery catalogs as pink savory or barrel sweetener, because in Crete a strong infusion of savory was used to cleanse and refresh wine barrels in the fall in preparation for a new wine.

Growing pink savory is the tricky bit coming from clay, wet soils.  Pink savory likes it dry, average to alkaline soil, full sun and excellent drainage.  I see a rock garden in my future.  But even having said that pink savory for me would have to be in a pot at the very least or dug up in the fall to be taken inside.  Cut back tip growth to keep a neat appearance.  Pink savory is perfect for a bed of Mediterranean herbs such as thymes and oreganos and sages.  Hope you will consider growing some pink savory in your herb garden this year.  I can see that my savory mail order from Well Sweep Herb Farm has increased by one!

I really realized with this herb of the year that I have not provided too much information and some of it is incorrect.  Oops!  Already corrected what was incorrect.  Winter savory is not even on my list of perennial herbs!   Have grown it over the years, but have learned that summer savory does self seed sometimes and winter savory is only good as long as the winter is not too cold and we had a terrible one last year.  The bottom line is that my photo catalog of savory is minimal!  So I may be taking a lot of book covers until the growing season gets started again.

BTW, your local nursery may not have pink savory or summer or winter for that matter.  Here are some of my favorite herb nurseries that still do mail order.  Well Sweep Herb Farm in New Jersey (link above), Sandy Mush Herb Nursery in North Carolina (First $100 I spent was on herbs from Sandy Mush.), Richters Herbs in Ontario, Canada (Yes, you can get plants back with the right paperwork from Canada.).  Two of my favorite places to buy herbs in Ohio are Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio and Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Alliance, Ohio.  All of the above-mentioned nurseries are passionate about herbs.  So please check them out.  Locally in the Pittsburgh area check out McTighe's Garden Center on Route 8, North Hills that sell a lot of unusual herbs from Sal Gilberte in Connecticut and Trax Farm in the South Hills among others in the area.  Please share your favorite place to buy herbs.

Took me awhile to put this together.  So getting back into an herbal rhythm may be difficult, but just nudge me if you don't hear from me for a while.  We had a touch of wet snow but it's January!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.