In Basket: September 2009


"I have a very tiny yard. I decided to build a lasagna garden and decorate it."

Ann Hawk

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Dear Herb Companion, 

I’ve been using herbs for many years, and am trying to grow my own herbs, with the help of your articles. I read with much interest your May 2009 article “Soothe Psoriasis.” I use herbs internally to treat this condition with success. But I am very curious to know where to get the natural ointment mentioned in the article. (It includes aloe gel, witch hazel, vitamin E oil, menthol, tea tree oil, pine tar, cedar leaf oil and clove oil). Is it a retail product that I can purchase?
–Gabriella Chow, Richmond Hill, Ontario

We received many letters about this article. To find the ingredients to make Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa’s ointment, try your local health-food store. —Eds. 

I just received my first issue of The Herb Companion and it’s by far the best magazine I’ve ever read. I even like the ads! All my issues are definitely going to be saved. I wonder why I’ve never seen it at Whole Foods Market. It seems to me like it would be of interest to many shoppers in natural food stores such as this.
–Tony Holiday, San Francisco

Tony, we are in some Whole Foods Markets, but not all stores carry us. Please let them know you want to see us there! —Eds. 

I am learning so much from your magazine! As a relatively new gardener, I know I would find basic tips on planting and maintaining a garden helpful. Also, including the heat index would be great. When you live in the lower, western corner of the country, heat becomes an issue.
–Charlee Helms, Midland, Texas

I have a very tiny yard. I decided to build a lasagna garden and decorate it. I am growing onions, peppers, squash, pole lima beans, purple pole beans, roma bush beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and marigolds. I thought I would share it with you. I love your magazine and e-newsletters.
–Ann Hawk, Wetumpka, Alabama

I enjoyed the July 2009 issue and the article “Designs: A 21st Century Apothecary Garden.” I have included a photo of my apothecary rose. It is a glorious new addition to my heirloom rose garden.
–Rachel Cooper, Alpharetta, Georgia

I love your magazine. I can’t wait for my next issue for all the news.
–Pat Bade, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Thanks for the kind words, Pat! —Eds. 

I’ve just read the July 2009 issue fresh from my mailbox! I am interested in learning more about wild edible plants as food. Could you cover that topic? I am thinking of the common dandelion plant and my recipe for redbud jelly. Now, I think I shall go back to my easy chair and finish reading my Herb Companion!
–Karen Adams, Eckerty, Indiana

The May 2009 article “15 Herbs to Save Money on Medical Bills” was very good. The article says to take 100 mg of hawthorn in two to three divided doses daily to maintain a healthy heart. I searched my local health-food store and the only available hawthorn was in 500 mg. They are capsules so I can’t break them. What do you recommend?
–Tim Lippold , Oswego, Illinois

Solaray makes a 100-mg hawthorn supplement. If your health-food store doesn’t carry what you need, ask for a special order or purchase online. —Eds. 

Online Exclusive Letters

In your May 2009 article, “Raised Bed for your Herb Garden.” you mention that some of the herbs in your design may develop deep roots. Which ones would you be referring to and how deep is ‘deep'? Since the statement was “may develop deep roots,” is there some care giving practice that discourages deepness in the root structure (such as more frequent feeding and watering, as is the case in hydroponics herbal gardens)?

–M.J., via 

You can get an idea of the size of the root system from the size of the plant aboveground. Small plants and annuals tend to have smaller root systems; while larger plants and perennials have more extensive roots. Thymes, chives, parsley and sage have relatively small root systems, while rosemary, mint and oregano roots can be quite extensive.

The beauty of a large planter, like the one featured in our article, is that plant roots can grow large enough to support lush growth aboveground while requiring less water than plants grown in smaller, individual containers. Plants that threaten to crowd out their neighbors after a couple of years (such as oregano or mint) can be pulled out and replaced with something smaller, such as sage or thyme. —Eds. 

Do we have herbal medicine for stammering?
–Benis Tijan, via

There are not too many herbal remedies for stammering; there are more dietary treatments. Almonds mixed with butter or pepper, chewing on cinnamon and eating dried dates are possible solutions for easing one’s stammering. —Eds.