Thursday, July 7, 2011

Never Buy Lamiaceae Again!

Taylor here for Mary.  Most of you out there are thinking, "What the French, toast!?  What's a Lamiaceae and why should I care about it.  The answer to that question is because as urban farmers and backyard homesteaders we use our buddy Lamiaceae all the time.  We put her in our stews and on our pizzas.  We make teas, infusions, tisanes and tinctures from her.  Medicine made from her is antioxidant, antispomadic, antiviral and antiseptic.  There is even evidence that compounds contained in her have potential uses for cancer preventing and treatment therapies.

So who is she and why does she have all this good stuff going on with her?  Lamiaceae is the name of a family of plants known commonly as the Mint Family.  Backyardigans (that's us) use her all the time in the form of herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, thyme, lavender and catnip among others.

The reason this family of useful plants is so very special to the backyard homesteader is because of one very special little trick that makes these plants so very easy to grow.  These plants can be propagated practically forever by simply cutting of a chunk and sticking it in a glass of water for a while.  This property makes growing Lamiaceae not only incredieble easy but fun.  Here is a photo of some basil cuttings I placed in jars by the window.

Pardon me, would you happen to have any basil propagating by the kitchen sink (Yes, that's a Grey Poupon jar)
Once the cutting have sat in water long enough they sprout legs, er, roots and are ready to plant out.  It's a good idea to cut back foliage after planting and keep them out of direct sun for a few days to help the new roots get established in it's new dirt.  Here is the same basil happily growing in some compost on the back deck.

Basil has a tendency to send up flowers alot.  If you pinch them off you can keep the stems from going all woody.  Sometime though it's just determined to bolt, in which case you can take a cutting, start it over in a jar of water and viola, more basil.  By this method you can propogate and grow many Lamiaceae without ever buying starts or messing with seeds.
A few of my favorite Lamiaceae growing in the sun (from right to left, basil, thyme, peppermint)
Try this trick with your favorite Lamiaceae at home and see how easy it is to propogate these wonderful plants without ever having to go to the store.  Enjoy!

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