Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why Herbs Herb?

What Do Herbs Have To Do With It?

When you think gardening do you think medicine? How about when you think herbs? Here’s a little pop quiz with some interesting answers for you.

Basil, Calendula, Parsley, Fennel, Chamomile, Lemon Balm just to name a few are herbs that could find a place in your medicine cabinet.

Okay, let’s say it’s spring and water puddles are standing everywhere. With the onset of warmer weather those puddles can produce mosquito habitat that will fill your yard with potential serious consequences. When you go outside to enjoy the beauty of the spring, I hope you will make good use of the herbal garden you’ve been nurturing all winter. How? Rub some of that basil plant on your skin. It will repel insects. Perhaps you want to stick a sprig of it in your hair its subtle aroma will lift your mood as you watch those pesky insects seek more appetizing bodies.

Calendula cures cuts and scrapes which seem to happen all too frequently in the spring yard clean up and getting the gardens ready for planting.

If the mold, mildew and pollen of spring are a bother think fennel – it can even ease asthma symptoms.

We are all familiar with the benefits of parsley to tame a tummy after meals, but it is also good for your breath. If you chew a little Parsley after a meal or after having a cup of coffee, it will freshen your breath. Peppermint will settle or tame that tummy if indigestion gets there before the parsley.

Lemon balm can ease and cure a cold sore. Chamomile battles gum disease as well as steeping you in a relaxing mood to help you get a good nights sleep.

The old timers knew of these uses and more for the herb patch. I think no garden should be allowed to grow without one—unless of course you grow several pots or containers in your home.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How To Plant an Effective Wind Break

by Billie A Williams

Today the wind whips the landscape in wintery gust of 65 miles per hour at times. The few inches of snowfall in the last couple days piles up in great drifts where little or no resistance is met. I’m glad we have an effective wind break on the north-northwest side of our home. It happens to be the L shaped protection afforded by the house and garage next door. It saves us on our heating fuel bill. What saves the neighbor’s heating bill? Another wind break in the form of evergreen trees planted in the L shape recommended by those who know how to develop an effective wind break.
Which brings me to today’s question. What creates an effective, efficient, energy saving natural wind break? According to the Department of Environmental Protection research up to 40 percent of your heating fuel costs could be cut by having a barrier such as evergreen trees against the wind velocity of those north-northwest winter winds. In dollar amounts, considering the US average heating costs, that could easily be as much as $400 per winter.
Here are a few important considerations when planning your evergreen wind break:
1. Most Important: Evergreens need to be planted north and northwest of your home. The direction that the strongest and coldest winter winds come from.
2. Planting in a “U” or “L” shape is most effective against blocking the undesirable winds.
3. The best zone of wind protection is from 2 – 7 times the height of the trees when they mature. Example: Mature tree height 20 feet = 40 to 140 feet downwind protection. Plan your planting accordingly
4. If you want a quick wind barrier plant your trees closer together. If you are willing to wait, you can plant them farther apart and wait for them to grow into a dense barrier. This could save you money on the cost of the trees.
5. Keep in mind evergreens prefer full to partial sun. Most soil conditions are adequate for them.
6. Order your trees from a reputable tree nursery.

Care for your evergreen trees with plenty of water until they are well established and they will take care of you. Not only with energy/heating fuel costs, but with a variety of birds and other wild life that will be attracted to your property.

Billie A Williams
Award-winning, multi-published
mystery suspense author