Emerging Spring Garden; Cilantro, Chamommile And Cabbage
It was one of those warm days in March, which gives you that spring feeling lift. Puttering outside, it was decided to clear the garden for the coming season. As the removing of dead plants began, the renewal of this year’s garden became insightful and delightful. Checking on the perennials, I was amazed at the already emerging sprouts!
It already amazed me that I was still pulling up carrots until this last December, but to see the cabbage still growing and with three heads that will be ready by April was indeed a surprise! Researching, it is discovered that in mild climates, cabbages can winter over very successfully. We had a very mild winter here in Western Kentucky! Cabbage is the fourth largest produced vegetable in the United States. Medicinally, the outer leaves of this green head can be used effectively as a poultice for sprains and other limb soreness.
Throughout history, cabbage has been herald the most valuable food with great healing properties. Roman mythology lends to the belief that the cabbage sprang from the tears of Lycurgus, King of the Edonians. Cabbage belongs to the plant family of Cruciferae, whose flowers are in the shape of a cross with equal length of four petals, representing the sun.
There is a lot of lore out there about cabbage, but this is about the garden. Also peeking through the ground is my cilantro and chamomile. These herbs have been very hardy and have never disappointed me in returning each season. Just the smell alone of cilantro is a treat. Once the cilantro goes to seed, then I can harvest the seeds as coriander spice.
Cilantro has parsley like leaves, which lends itself to the name Chinese parsley. Early on in history this plant originated in Europe and Asia as well as cultivated in Egypt. The seeds were used as aphrodisiac and a poultice for sore joints or rheumatism. If your appetite is lacking, chew on a few coriander seeds. It works the gas in the stomach to enhance the appetite. The Chinese used to make a potion with this plant to improve their immortality.
It was not until the Spanish Inquisition introduced the cilantro plant to Central and South America, that it became the famous companion to the pepper dishes of the Mexican cuisine. Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, yet they have properties to each their own, complementing most dishes with striking unforgettable flavor that waters the tongue. As I brush the cilantro leaves the aroma eases up my nose and makes me wish it was harvest time already!
Next to the cilantro, is nestled the chamomile. With her thin fern like leaves and soon to bloom white with yellow center flowers, this herb is priceless. It is a must have in all gardens for variety of reasons. As a tea, chamomile is excellent for settling stomach and nerves. The taste being very palatable and mild, and smells of apples.
Chamomile derives from the Greek word Chamaimelon, meaning earth-apple and the word chamai, meaning on the ground. As a medicinal herb, chamomile can aid in many ailments. Besides calming the nerves and a sleep aid, it also can be used as an antibiotic, antiseptic, bactericidal, disinfectant and vermifuge, which is the extracting of parasites.
Historically this herb was used by priest as incense for preparing of spiritual ceremonies that called upon the sun god. This beautiful miniature flower was also a sacred herb among the Druids. The dried flower, crushed into powder, was sprinkled in homes to rid or reverse spells, hexes and curses. If you were lacking in money, it was believed that chamomile placed in coin purse will attract such money. Even old time gamblers used to wash their hands with chamomile to attract those winning hands! The Romans called this herb, the healer.
Lemon Balm, or better known as Sweet Melissa, along with Texas Sage and Mugwort, aka Wormwood, are also making their presence known in my garden. All three of theses plants are related and are among the sacred herbs used by Native American Indians as well as educated herbalist. There is much to say about these herbs and will produce another article for this site, so be on the lookout for a follow up of the Emerging Garden.