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The Beginning Herbalist

Create your own apothecary by turning your home and garden into an herbal medicine chest.


I still remember my first city garden: a 4-by-5-foot, cinder-block raised bed in the corner of a tiny, concrete backyard. I was so excited to finally have dirt of my own that I ran to the nursery and bought one of every kind of seedling they carried.

Of course, the fruits of my reckless abandon were almost entirely zucchini, and I wept as I watched those courgettes overgrow everything — except the herbs! Undaunted, the peppermint, thyme and oregano thrived, providing me with far more flavoring and garnish than my poor vegetable harvest, limited cooking repertoire and small family required.

That summer, using my herb haul to the fullest became my goal. Certainly, I could dry or freeze the overage, but that seemed a lackluster end for my accidental herbal triumph. Besides, how much dried thyme was I likely to use over the years before my efforts withered to tasteless, grayish-green dust?

Dinner out for my birthday solved the dilemma. I chose olive oil and vinegar to dress my salad, and the waiter brought two fancy bottles of fragrant liquid. One contained the familiar golden- green olive oil, but the other had a prize dancing inside: a lovely sprig of rosemary.

The flavor of that herb-infused vinegar was fantastic. Eureka!

The next day, I began researching how to make herbed vinegars and found it far simpler than I had imagined. In addition, I discovered that my garden bounty would be just as happy to share its flavor, nutrition and healing properties with many other edible and medicinal liquids, and I could prepare a wide range of herbal products right in my own kitchen. In the years since, I’ve studied with several herbalists and created many herbal preparations. It’s delicious fun and very satisfying. To date, the most difficult part remains figuring out which amazing concoction to make next.

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Best Of Hobby Farms 2018, Healing Herbs, Natural Health Guide, And More......