In Basket: March 2012

The Herb Companion readers discuss growing heirloom roses, identifying crimini mushrooms, growing strawberries in Texas, and more in this month’s “In Basket.”

Bouquet Of Pink Roses

Roses make natural, beautiful decorations.

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Growing Heirloom Roses

For 10 years, I’ve grown heirloom roses, including ‘Teas’, ‘Chinas’, ‘Bourbons’, ‘Noisettes’ and ‘Hybrid Perpetuals’. I have several dozen thriving in my Zone 7b garden. I love the antique roses for their complex history, charming names and fragrant, old-fashioned elegance that is so different from the often-flamboyant look of modern roses. I also love their vigor: several of my repeat bloomers—‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, ‘Maggie’, ‘Monsieur Tillier’ and ‘Old Blush’—still bloom into December! I cut my old-fashioned roses for bouquets all summer, and make several batches of rose granita in the hottest months as a most refreshing dessert.

—Susan Poznar, Russellville, Arkansas

Thanks for sharing! Read more about the 2012 Herb of the Year in 2012 Herb of the Year: The Rose (Rose spp.). —Eds.

Oh, Crimini (Mushrooms)!

In your January 2012 article Plants for a Strong Immune System, it says that shiitake mushrooms are sometimes labeled as “baby portobellos.” Those are actually crimini mushrooms.

—Kate Foerster, Winona, Minnesota

In my local health-food store, baby portobellos are shiitakes, but when I looked it up on other grocery sites, I also found them listed as crimini mushrooms. So, yes, looking for “baby portobellos” on packaging is not a reliable way to shop for shiitakes. Criminis do have similar medicinal properties as well. —Jaclyn Chasse, author

Growing Fruit in Texas

I live in Texas, where the summers are quite brutal. During that time, my plants—two strawberry plants, a blackberry and a small mint—didn’t fare well. I was concerned they had all died. My strawberries and blackberries seem to be reviving, but my mint is not. I replaced the soil in all my pots and keep them well-watered. The recent rain has helped as well. All of my plants were trimmed back but I fear my mint may be dead. 

—Brandi Clark, Austin, Texas

Here in Central Texas, strawberries are generally grown as annuals, planted in the fall and yanked after they’ve set all of their fruit; they won’t usually make it through our summers. Your blackberries should recuperate. Last summer was brutal with the heat and drought. The heat brings on a kind of dormancy, and while most of what I thought I’d lost has come back fine once the temperatures dropped, it’s not surprising that you might lose a small plant as opposed to a larger, more-established one. Liquid seaweed is a good way to give surviving roots a boost. Mint can be replaced with a cutting or a start. —Kathleen Halloran, contributing editor

Dandelion Root Rich in Vitamin D

In the article Preventing Osteoporosis with Better Bone Health of our September 2011 issue, we said dandelion leaves are a great source of vitamin D. Dandelion root, not the leaves, actually has the vitamin D. The leaves are a source of calcium. —Eds.

Facebook Fodder

What are your favorite herbs to heal with? Check out our editor-recommended healing herbs in Grow a Garden with Healing Herbs and Plants.

KATHY CHAMPLIN: Blue vervain, valerian, skullcap and astragalus.

MARANDA VARGAS: Calendula, burdock, astragalus, dandelion, rosemary and peppermint are my favorites. They are all easy to grow and treat a wide range of health problems.

NANCY PENTON SMITH: Sage for fevers and slippery elm for coughs and sore throats. And don’t forget ginger, which is good for everything.

ELAINE ALTMAN: St. John’s wort and mullein are my favorites!

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