August Newsletter 2006

Well we're all doing well with our tans here at Herbal Haven, though some of the days have been almost unbearably hot for working and there have been one or two unscheduled afternoon tea breaks just so we can sit in the shade for a few minutes.

Lemon verbena tea is a great refresher for this type of weather. Watering the plants at the shows can be hard work as well, especially when the only water tap is way off in the tree line at the other end of the show ground. Still, better than standing in the rain all day......

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

I guess a lot of you have been having barbecues and hopefully using lots of herbs in your cooking, especially in marinades and the accompanying salads. I'm not going to give you any recipes as there are a million and ten books out there devoted to the subject. If you have any good ones yourselves, though, please post them onto the forum page so we can all have a read.

Eating outside on warm evenings does mean insect bites and there are a couple of herbs that are particularly good for their soothing properties. The first one is aloe vera which is very simple to use. Cut off a small end of a leaf slit it open and apply the juice directly onto the skin. The cut leaf on the plant will heal again but you will end up with lots of healed ends. To avoid this, cut a whole leaf off at the base, store it in the fridge and use bits of it as necessary. This won't damage the look of your plant. Aloe vera produces new shoots from the base, so there will always be more to use. These shoots can also be detached from the mother plant (with a piece of root attached) and potted up to make more. Make sure you don't over water aloe vera and bring it inside before the first frosts.

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena

The other herb good for bites is pennyroyal. It is traditionally used as an ant repellant and I saw a brilliant experiment on the television a few years ago showing this action. A clump of pennyroyal was rubbed onto concrete to produce a circle of juice and then an ant was put in the middle of it. The ant ran round and round but wouldn't cross the line of juice to get out. To ease the itching of bites take a small handful of pennyroyal and rub it onto the skin, just as you would a dock leaf on a nettle sting. It works wonders.

Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal

Many of the flowers on the thymes and lavenders will be dying off now and need to be cut back. You can be reasonably harsh, down to about a couple of inches provided the plants are young. (The old wood of older plants shouldn't be cut into as they rarely reproduce from this.) There should be a new flush of growth that will carry the plants over the winter.

Now is also the month for cutting herbs for drying for use in the winter, especially some of the medicinal herbs where the use of the flowers is beneficial. Good examples are skullcap, meadow and yarrow. The best way to do this is to cut them at the base and hang them upside down away from sunlight in a dry place.

That's all for August, have a great month.

Happy herbing,

Lorraine.