In this last printed issue, I have chosen to write about a very special adaptogenic herb. I must admit, I had neglected to get to know this herb until just recently. Now it is one of my top-ten favorites! I think it will be yours, too, when you find out just what this herb can do! Everyone knows about Basil. It is such an aromatic herb to cook with. But how many people know about holy basil?
The Hindu people revere this herb and have used it for many aliments in their Ayurvedic medicine. I will tell what it is, the therapeutic actions, nutrients, what it has been used for, some of the research that has been done on it, and its uses, dosages, and drug interactions.
What Is Holy Basil?
Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum are both aromatic shrubs in the Lamiaceae basil plant family. Holy basil is thought to have originated in north central India and now grows throughout the Eastern world. Also known as tulsi, which means “the incomparable one” in Hindu, the holy basil plant is a perennial that has a light lemon scent and purple-pink flowers. It is also called “Queen of the Herbs.”
With our economy experiencing high inflation as food, gas, utilities and other consumer goods skyrocket, it’s a great time to grow food locally on our own properties. In addition to saving money, eating fresh produce provides a much healthier alternative to the equivalent grown in other states or countries.
In 2018, my wife Mona secured funding through grants and donations (via our 501c3, Paradise Permaculture Institute), to purchase from Four Season Tools Company what’s called a Rolling High Tunnel (RHT)—a greenhouse that can be moved on stationery rails to more than one position. In our case, the 30’ x 48’ RHT greenhouse we erected, from a kit with the help of a half-dozen friends, can now be moved by two to four people to three positions. This allows us to extend the growing season on both ends and grow hardy greens all through the winter!
Summer savory (Satureja hortensis) grows well in the mountains of Montana. It is deer-resistant and it thrives in most soil types and weather conditions. There are about 14 species of this highly aromatic herb, but you can only find the seeds for the two of them. Summer savory is an annual in the same family as the perennial, winter savory. Savory leaves were formerly used to cure bee and wasp stings. Both summer and winter savory can be propagated from seeds sown in April. The seeds are very slow in germinating. The early spring seedlings are often topped off for fresh use in June. When the plants are in flower, they may be pulled up and dried for winter use.
This herb has lilac tubular flowers that bloom in the northern hemisphere from July to September. It grows to around 1–2 feet in height and has very slender, bronze-green leaves. Summer savory is a traditional popular herb in Atlantic Canada and Europe, where it is used in the same way that sage is in the west.
Parents are always looking for a fun way to engage their children, especially in these times. I came across the Wild Food Homeschool Teaching Guide, by Linda Runyon, from the Wild Food Company (OffTheField.com). Linda writes: “Over my decades of teaching about wild food, I’ve noticed that people who become interested in learning it often have two reactions — one right after the other. First, there are many who had no idea that FREE, tasty nutrition is available everywhere, right under their nose. Second, wheels start turning in their minds as they realize that they have come upon information that practically guarantees that they and their loved ones need never go hungry.”
Children are fascinated with the idea of going out in their back yard, or to an open field or forest, to find that the wild food growing there can be picked, washed, and eaten. They, soon after, become very interested in finding additional wild plants to identify and harvest. They love to help prepare meals that can be served using the foods that they themselves gather. The guide includes a “Rules of Foraging” list and a fun project where you rototill a patch of ground in your yard to just wait and see what springs up naturally to identify, harvest, and eat.
Every child remembers summer-fun foods—my favorite was watermelon! When my first child was 8 months old, she grabbed my watermelon rind and started teething on it—her first food! Since then, I have watched and studied for information on these wonderful balls of Mother Nature’s purest water. Here’s a sampling.
Starting in 1979, Dr. N.W. Walker, who wrote Colon Health—The Key to Vibrant Life, states: “The cause of death is colon neglect. Flush it out! Maintain the water balance in your systems. The human body consists of 65% to 70% water. About one gallon is eliminated every 24 hours and must be replenished.”
In 1988, Ann Wigmore, ND, DD, in The Alchemy of Change, wrote: “Watermelon is a real treasure! It is classified as both a fruit and a vegetable. It is the most alkaline of any of them. It provides a great aid for overcoming any acid condition. Considering our present hazardous water conditions, watermelon contains the best natural water.
Looking out at the snow-covered garden and frozen ground, as winter lingers on, I count on my greens to provide me with chlorophyll, known as “liquid sunlight.” I recently had the wonderful opportunity to meet Sam Mascari, owner of Montana Roots in Livingston, and to tour his magical greenhouses. Right before my eyes, I saw what I had previously only read about—an aqua-ponic, recirculating, greenhouse ecosystem! It starts with the tank of fish that provides fertilizer, which is then pumped into a biological filter bed that is rich with worms and beneficial bacteria.
Montana Roots is a year-round, sustainable farm that grows a variety of microgreens, shoots, leafy greens, herbs, and edible flowers. Sam explained to me the difference between sprouts and microgreens. Sprouts, grown in a jar, are more the germinated seeds and the roots; whereas, microgreens are eaten after the first leaves (called cotyledons) emerge from a plant. It grows in soil that is a significant part of the embryo within the seed of a plant. Upon germination, the cotyledon becomes the embryonic first leaves of a seedling, before adult leafing occurs.
Yes, the temperatures are dropping, making it the perfect season to reach for warming foods. Think: Herb teas, hot lemon-ginger water, broths, soups, stews, sauces and gravies, crockpot, slow-cooked meals, and warming smoothies. Include: Garlic, onion, Mexican hot peppers, radishes, all types of sea vegetables. Use: Herbs like basil, oregano, peppermint, ginger, horseradish, mustard, paprika, cayenne, sage, and turmeric. Add: wasabi, umoboshi plum paste. Spices too: cinnamon, clove, star anise, licorice, nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin-pie spice. Stir your rose-hips tea with a cinnamon stick!
Dr. Richard Schulze, ND, MH, is known for his natural-healing crusade. He reminds us: 1) Cayenne pepper promotes overall core warmth, circulation and heart health. 2) Horseradish root goes right to the head. 3) Ginger root goes out to the extremities and back in again internally, creating movement as a wave of warmth. There you have it—heart, head and hands!
Did you know there are both cooling and warming foods? That’s right. We eat for many reasons, yet some are less obvious. For example, we eat foods that grow in our climate zones, the same zones that we plant by, because the plants that grow in our climate have built into them what we need to also survive well in our area. So here we are, leaving summer behind, and on the threshold of winter. Autumn is a transition season, not only for the plants and animals but also for us. All gardeners know that the critters will focus on eating different plants at different times of the year. Does your diet reflect that change?
Summer’s cooling foods, like bananas, grow in warmer climates. Does that mean I never eat bananas? Of course not, yet I choose to eat them in the hotter months and know they won’t keep me very warm in my neck of the woods at 20 below! Many people say, “Well, I eat a banana a day because I was told I need potassium.” Bananas are a source of potassium, but dates, by weight, have 50% more potassium than bananas (Prevention Magazine).
There are many aspects to growing your own food, especially in the colder climate that we have here in Montana. Working with nature is the goal and that begins with your seeds. It is important to consider the way we are handling today’s seeds. So many hybrids have been developed that you actually have to seek out original, non-hybrid seeds. Hybrid plants are sterile, meaning that seeds must be purchased for every planting. They cannot be saved and shared from year to year as your ancestors did in the past! This may be good for the seed companies, but NOT for the seeds. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences has indicated that since many of our crops are so genetically uniform through hybrids, they could easily be wiped out by one disastrous disease epidemic.
Most of our vegetables were derived from herbs, but they no longer have the essence, the pungent tastes, or the odors of those herbs. They are increasingly losing their power and effect in the human body. These original, non-hybrid seeds produce crops with immunities to pests and blights through struggles of nature. These seeds have survived the centuries, and so did we.
Hello! We are Baked in Montana—a farm and business based in Gallatin County. We grow hemp, extract CBD, and process our products locally. Our goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle by using natural products, while addressing some of our cultural and environmental problems. Today we would like to share our farming philosophy with you.
Creating and sustaining healthy soil is part of restoring an ecosystem. We find ways to partner with natural processes instead of working against them. This has been our passion over the last several seasons of growing. We work to heal the soil by reintroducing organic materials and microorganisms. We cut back on practices that damage natural soil systems, such as tilling, pesticides, herbicides, commercial fertilizing, and over-irrigating.