In Basket: July 2009

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Dear Herb Comanion,

A note of thanks for your awesome magazine! I work overseas in Zimbabwe, Africa. I must have seen your magazine somewhere online and ordered it. When I arrived in the states for a visit, I finally got to read them. Wow! They are fantastic and so helpful. We provide herbal medicine to local Zimbabweans who seek medical treatment through our clinic. We use herbs from our organic garden and I’m always researching new and old ones. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with many options for plant usage (lots of teas) and medicinal purposes. We appreciate all that’s available. Thanks for helping to expand our knowledge. I’ll look forward to having my family send the magazine out to me.
Julie Van Zevern, Zimbabwe, Africa

I can’t tell you how much I always look forward to my next issue of The Herb Companion. I make a nice cup of herbal tea, get cozy in my favorite chair and read it from cover to cover. I’m so glad I came across The Herb Companion about a year ago. I cherish every issue. Thanks.
Di Mooney, Wasilla, Alaska

I received my first issue of The Herb Companion yesterday and wanted to share how thrilled I am by your magazine. You give real tips, real recipes to make your own home-care products, and real information on herbs without a “we have to follow the crowd” mentality. The Herb Companion is fantastic—a breath of fresh air in a magazine world run by politics.
Corri Baker, Portland, Oregon

I absolutely love the magazine—it’s one of the very few that I read from front to back! Could you incorporate companion planting? It is a natural method for pest control and makes for happy plants!
Kim Yates, via

Planting a diversity of species and varieties—just as we see in nature—supports more of the beneficial insects that plants rely on for pollination and pest control. As far as specific “companion planting” suggestions, such as “tomatoes like basil,” etc., there is no hard research to back up most of these anecdotal claims. Mix herbs with other plants in any way that pleases you. The plants, wildlife and soil will love you for it. —Eds.

Online Exclusive Letters

I was very interested in the information in the May 2009 article “Keep Herbal Flavors within Reach” (regarding construction of an herb planter) due to the fact that I grow my herbs in pots and each year find I have to replace winter-damaged pots. Would it be advisable to use railroad ties to build the planter or would the treated lumber have an effect on the herbs?
Jean Smalla, Otesgo, Michigan

Railroad ties have usually been treated with coal tar creosote and/or pressure treated (a preservative process in which chemicals like chromated copper arsenate [CCA] are abosorbed into the wood). In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency banned CCA from residential use, in most cases. While there are non-arsenic chemicals that can be used for pressure treating wood, it will be difficult, if not impossible to know how the railroad ties have been preserved. Ask your local lumber yard to point you in the right direction. —Eds.


Adaptogens would make a wonderful tea for your husband, since they help the body and mind hold up under stress. (They have a tonic effect on the body and are safe for most people.) Read the July 2009 article " Energize with Eleuthero ." We have an easy method for combining the mild adaptogen eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) with a smoothie. For a tea, you might try American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) with ginger (Zingiber officinalis) added to improve the taste. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) are other adaptogens that have a calming effect and may be helpful. While these herbs are generally safe, it’s always best to check with a health-care provider before using, especially if your husband takes any prescription medications. —Eds. 

In your November 2008 issue, in the center of the magazine is a chart called "20 Essential Herbs for Cooking and Healing.” Is this a poster for purchase? If it is not something that I can purchase, would it be possible to have another copy?
Faye Wannlund, via

The poster you are referring to is not on sale, but thanks for the great idea. Perhaps we should offer this informative poster to our readers. In the meantime, you can purchase back issues of our magazine by calling (800) 456-5835.—Eds.