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Ask the Herbalist--Growing/Drying Herbs

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: A rosemary plant I purchased in December 2010 at a Whole Foods Market sat on my porch (we live in Rochester, NY; very cold winter!) It is now April and I am cleaning my porch. The rosemary plant is still very aromatic, and the leaves are very dry. However, the soil was still moist. Will this plant recover? I cut it back severely so I hope I did not harm it. Also, is the dried portion of the plant usable for cooking purposes? Thanks very much!

ANSWER: I know how cold it gets up there, I lived in Buffalo for a year.  Lucky you the plant survived. It may recover; use a reflective window light for 4 hours per day for a week and then use a stronger sun for the same amount of time. Do not over water. You may certainly use the dried aromatic leaves for seasoning.

QUESTION: Hello, I am curious if you can cut branches off a ginko tree and spray them clean with the hose and just hang the branches indoors to dry the leaves then just pull the leaves off once dry it seems that if it is possible it would be much easier than pulling, washing,towel drying then air drying. I also read that you could dry the leaves in the oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit or even in the microwave. What is the best method of drying to preserve the nutrients? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Never use the oven or the microwave. You may dry them by hanging them upside down and it should be okay.  The best way to preserve the active parts is to make an extract or tincture.

: i did plant an herb garden this spring,   all is very pleasing to me with one exemption: how to grow dill,   how deep to pant the seedlings ..how much water and how much sun, ??  what  soil condition is needed  for growing    dill???  would love to hear from you .. in the hope of helping in my dilemma. 

ANSWER: Rather than go into lengthy explanations I am sending you a site which will definitely help.


Dill is an easy plant to grow. Just remember not too much sun nor too much water.

QUESTION: I'm planning on growing medicinal ecinachia, are there different  varieties with different medicinal potencies or is there a better one to grow or is there just one to grow?

ANSWER: Great question!

Echinacea is related to the daisy.
There are 9 species:
  a.. Echinacea angustifolia - Narrow-leaf Coneflower
  b.. Echinacea atrorubens - Topeka Purple Coneflower
  c.. Echinacea laevigata - Smooth Coneflower, Smooth Purple Coneflower
  d.. Echinacea pallida - Pale Purple Coneflower
  e.. Echinacea paradoxa - Yellow Coneflower, Bush's Purple Coneflower
  f.. Echinacea purpurea - Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower
  g.. Echinacea sanguinea - Sanguine purple Coneflower
  h.. Echinacea simulata - Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower
  i.. Echinacea tennesseensis - Tennessee Coneflower
Of these Echinacea Purpurea is the most studied, best known and the one we
would suggest.

Two others are: Echinacea Agustifolia and Echinacea Pallida.

QUESTION: What should you do when your herbs start seeding or flowering out?

ANSWER: After flowering the plant dies.  Depending on what herbs you are growing and for what uses, you can either
top the flowers and let them dry or begin using them.
Here's a great link for you: