Posts Tagged ‘windowsill herbs’

Historic Herbs

August 7, 2017

The history of herbs dates as far back as 50AD when records show that the Romans invaded us with knowledge gathered from the Greeks and Egyptians. They believed for example that by consuming mint their intelligence would increase. They also used mint to welcome others into their home. Around the same time dill was used as an important herb in witchcraft and as an aphrodisiac. However, it is quite probable that although no records were made the native Celts used herbs for medicinal and surgical purposes before the Romans took control. It was only slightly later that evidence of herbs such as hemlock and opium poppy were used as a form of anaesthetic in one of the largest medieval hospitals founded by King Malcolm of Scotland in 1164.


Good King Henry is one of the many culinary herb seeds still used today. It is easy to grow and a great source of iron. The herbs grow best in well-drained soil and although they may be slow to germinate, transplanting the herbs 1 -2 feet apart can speed up the cultivation period. Harvesting these culinary plants only at the leaves will allow the plant to continue to grow and they can be divided in early spring if they become well established. Another popular historic herb is lovage with it growing in abundance across the country for years, despite its Mediterranean origin. The herbs have been cultivated and used medicinally for sore throats and paediatric ailments such as colic, fever and jaundice. It has also been linked to having aphrodisiac properties. For best results, sow the seeds into well-rotted compost during September or October and enjoy as a culinary addition to soups, stews, rice dishes or in an aromatic tea to reduce flatulence and water retention.


In addition to culinary herbs,  historic herbs have made valuable contributions to beauty products throughout the ages. Ancient records reveal recipes for herb infused oils and creams in the tombs of beauty icons such as Cleopatra. Other uses included dill and laurel being used to crown heroes and pillows being stuffed with wild celery. Other herb seeds were sown and grown on for dying fabric with historic herbs such as Artemisia offering magical properties to the people of the middle ages and their juices being rubbed on babies to protect them from the cold. Rosemary was not only used as a common culinary herb but was eaten for its tranquilizing effects to cure headaches. Whatever the use culinary herbs have been used for centuries and will no doubt be used for generations to come. As we become increasingly aware of the benefits of eating and using natural resources I suspect herb seeds may be once again targeted as a primary source of nutrition, medicine and cosmetics in many a home. Considering how easy they are to grow, whether in a garden or on a windowsill herbs are most certainly a more cost effective option in this increasingly financially challenging era.


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