Monday, July 13, 2009

Garden Tidbits: Toxic Plants and Herb Tips

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

An important thing to teach your children is to NEVER eat or chew on leaves, flowers or berries. I even went so far as teaching my children to ask before picking an herb leaf. No matter where you live there is the possibility of toxic plants on your property. Some common ones are nightshade, foxglove, lily-of-the-valley, may apples (in wooded settings) and even the leaves of vegetables such as rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes. Children especially are vulnerable to poisoning from plants. From the time they crawl and start to walk you should be teaching them to respect the plants and around them. We teach kids not to eat bugs, bees and spiders, why not plants, berries,seeds and flowers?

Herbs aren't just pretty, many are delicious too!

Lemonbalm Tea: Just pick a handful of leaves, rinse gently, place them in a teapot. Use a wooden spoon to crush them so the oil in the leaves is released a bit. Pour boiling water over the leaves and steep for 5-8 minutes or so. You can sweeten if you wish, and drink warm, or pour over ice for a nice iced tea.

Pineapple sage is a delicate and won't stand up to heat the way regular garden sage does, so use it in fruit dishes, or in fruit soups. You can put it into hot dishes, but do it at the last minute. It won't stand up to actual cooking. It's milder in taste than regular sage too with a mild fruity taste. Try it in iced tea as well.

Lavender and Lemon & Lime Cooler

1 tsp. dried lavender blossoms
1 tsp. dried lemon verbena or other lemon herbs
1 cup boiling water
2 limes
2 tbsp. sugar (more or less to taste)

Remove water from the heat. Add the lavender and lemon verbena or other lemon herbs. Steep until cool. Add the juice and zest of the limes plus the sugar, stirring until all is mixed and sugar is dissolved. Stain and serve over ice.

More recipes for cooling summer herb drinks on OFL:


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