ASK FLORA – Herbs for Winter Health
Sage & Snow Garden Club February newsletter
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
Original post February 5, 2016 | Updated February 12, 2016
Editor's note: We've updated this article to point out that the February Sage & Snow Garden Club meeting has been changed to Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5pm at the Sublette County Weed and Pest Office.
I have heard that herbs are important – can you explain why?
Signed: Harried Herb.
As well as flavor enhancers for any meal, fresh herbs with fruits and vegetables have long been known to have tremendous ethnobotanical properties and should be ingested every day to enhance overall wellbeing and vitality.
Can you provide some suggestions on easy to obtain herbs and how they could be used?
Signed: Greta Ginseng.
Start by using herbs that you like and then begin to explore some options using those herbs. Mint and orange make a wonderful infusion when soaked in a pitcher of water with ice. In the winter try pouring boiling water over shaved ginger root and lemon for a warming and satisfying drink. Ginseng is best known to provide energy; hawthorne is helpful to the heart; oranges provide vitamin C and improve overall harmony; rosehips, roots crops such as carrots and beets, elderberries and pomegranates provide Vitamin A and C and bioflavonoids.
Are there any perennial herbs that I can grow in my garden which will overwinter? And how do I use these herbs?
Signed: Perry Rose
More and more herbs are being discovered that will overwinter in Sublette County gardens. Most need very little care as they are hardy and have adapted well to our harsh conditions. Try growing chives, garlic, sprouting onions, mint, wild rose, balsam root, thyme, tarragon, oregano and lovage. Local gardeners are finding that Munstead Lavendar will also overwinter in Sublette County. Once you have established your own culinary collection, the best advice is to do some online research to discover the wonderful healing aspects your herbs have to offer. Join the local garden club to raise questions or share ideas.
Can you make suggestions on a tea that might improve my circulation and vitality?
Signed: Barry Sage.
If you have collected herbs in the Fall, now would be a great time to make an infusion which would not only improve help your heart but also your circulation and vitality. Use a combination of hawthorn berry, rosehips, rosemary, apple pieces, sage, Siberian ginseng, anise, orange peel, elberberry, burdock root, astragalus, hibiscus, ashwaganda or elderberry.
If I don’t have all the herbs for a tea infusion, where should I look for them?
Signed: Rosemary Brown
Try a local herb shop or they can certainly be sourced online. Mountain Rose Herbs, in Oregon, is a wonderful place to get all things herbal. Remember that fresh usually trumps dried in terms of nutritional value.
Often during the winter I feel lethargic and seem to lack a zest for life. Can herbs help?
Signed: Zippy Warren.
Herbs are very beneficial to help fight off winter ailments. You can make herbal teas, tinctures or infusions. A very easy winter tonic to make is Fire Cider. Start by chopping up fresh garlic, onions, lemon, ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper, serrano chili (if you like a little heat) and a pinch of turmeric. Place in a pint size jar and cover with an organic and unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, such as Braggs. Screw on an airtight lid, store jar in a cool dark place, and shake daily for 7 days. Take ˝ teaspoon up to 5 times a day for a great rejuvenating tonic. The tonic acts as a great preventative to getting sick. Strain the liquid off and store in a clean tincture bottle with a dropper for increased portability. The recipe and more can be found on http://mountainroseblog.com/fire-cider.
Rather than a tea, can I make a herbal infusion that might last a little longer?
Signed: Brandy Little.
A tincture is an oil or alcohol infusion producing an herbal extract using vodka, brandy or rum. For example, pop a few cloves of garlic in the alcohol, shake daily for at least a week to allow the alcohol to extract the goodness from the herb.
What is a good combination of herbs to assist with respiratory issues?
Signed: Kold Cure
Select any or all of the following to suit your own taste preferences– comfrey, peppermint, chamomile, lemon grass, ginger, cinnamon, orange peel – mix with hot water to help extract the vitality from the herbs.
How do I know what herbs to use?
Signed: Info May Shun
Talk with a local herbalist or do some reading. Great resources are Michael Moore’s "Medical Plants of the Mountain West" or "Art and Science of Herbalism" by Rosemary Gladstar.
Are there some local resources where I might learn more about herbs and how to collect herbs in the mountains?
Signed: Mike Mountain
The Sage and Snow Garden Club meets monthly. The next meeting will be Tuesday, February 23rd at 5pm at the County Weed and Pest Office. There are plans during the summer for the garden club to take a walk and learn more about identifying and wildcrafting herbs. Become a member so you will be notified when the plant walks occur. Also, look for books, videos or blogs from Rosemary Gladstar as she is a great starting point, a trusted resource and enthusiastic teacher.