Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Herbie News for the New Year - 2021

 Herbie News for the New Year

We have a newsletter option on our website, but I haven't figured out how to share it beyond that mailing list.  This is the gist of it. I'll try and get all the links set, and at the bottom, I'll add the products that were included!

2021 Herb of the Year (chosen by International Herb Association) is Parsley

Petroselinum crispum.
One of the best parts of Herb of the Year is that it gives us an opportunity to really learn something new about the herbs that we may (or may not) use often, but don't know a lot about. Some really memorable HOTY's for me are horseradish, savory, and anise hyssop. I needed to research them in order to write about them.
Here are a couple articles to get you started learning about parsley!

The Herb Society of America chooses Notable Native™ herbs and trees.

Natives are a big part of my life here, and this program has led me into the woods to study the spicebush, and then to find new appreciation for the witch hazel in the back yard. Again, this is such a great program. Focusing on plants really helps us learn.
2021 Notable Native Herb™ Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
2021 Notable Native Tree™ Gleditsia triacanthos  (honeylocust)
Find PDF's for those and previous choices at their website www.herbsociety.org

The dark part of the year is here, and the lack of sunshine can impact our moods even if we don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder. 2 or 3 days of gloomy weather can wipe me out! Be sure to keep your vitamin D levels up to help with that AND it turns out that maintaining a healthy vit. D level may help prevent COVID-19, as they've found that most of the people with serious cases are vitamin D deficient.
Additionally, if you've got my book, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing, there are a ton of great remedies as well as just including the individual herbs in your day! We have all but one or two of the herbs in the book as tinctures. Some of my favorites this time of year are Holy Basil, Mimosa, and Lemon Balm.  Find our tinctures HERE

Interesting new herbs for 2021 include 4 Downy Mildew resistant basils from Johnny's Seeds, a Dotted St John's wort from Bakers Creek, and for those in zones 8-10 who have been trying and trying to keep lavender, Bakers Creek also has Origano Lavender that is happy and perennial in the hot, humid zones; annual in other zones.

Are you considering a good online herb course that will give you everything you need to feel confident to create and continue learning? Rosemary Gladstar's Science and Art of Herbalism is having their annual sale. Here is a link to check it out.
Science and Art of Herbalism
You can read about daughter Molly's experiences in this course HERE
We also recommend classes from Gail Faith Edwards at Blessed Maine Herb Farm,
and the many options at Learning Herbs.

2021 will be the year of the Metal Ox when the Chinese New Year arrives on Feb 12. We consider this year as part of that one for simplicity. The Ox is diligent, honest, strong, and determined. Also stubborn. The Chinese element of Metal's attributes are firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength, and determination.

Pantone colors for 2021 will be "Ultimate Gray" and "Illuminating," which is a bright lemon yellow. One of the critiques of the colors suggested that they were related to the mood of the past year more than a trend, with the gray referring to every day being much like the last, and the yellow is the light at the end of the tunnel. Let's hope that is in the past!

We have a special treat to share! Kristine Brown RH(AHG) has started a new Youtube series of story telling for youngsters. The following link is for PINE, but I saw that she added NUTMEG earlier today. Gather the kids and listen.

We added links to our DIY Fire Cider

Our cinnamon jars

And of course, our magazine...

I think that's everything for now.  Lots to learn in the upcoming year.  Get your seeds and plants early.  Have a happy, healthy, and fortuitous new year!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Essential Herbal January February 2021 Issue


Man Oh Day!  Starting a new year has never been so welcome.  Although I'm writing this on the Solstice, in magazine-land, we are now in January, and have been since the beginning of November!  We all know that 2021 is going to be a rough year, but there is the sense that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  2020 was a long, long, long year.  

Enough of that!  We have a wonderful issue to start this year.  Lots of recipes, remedies and garden ideas wait inside these pages.

You can get a SINGLE COPY or SUBSCRIBE for a year.  Subscriptions come with and addition 6 "Essential Extras" which are smaller things that may be a handful of great pages, a video, puzzles - whatever we have - and you'll hear from us every month; 6 magazines and 6 Essential Extras (exclusive for subscribers only).

We are still shipping for the time being, but the mail service has really been hobbled.  So... if you need to be sure your gift arrives, consider sending a subscription!



Cover, Maryanne Schwartz
      Read about how Maryanne arrived at this artwork.
Field Notes, Tina Sams
      The hodge-podge of existing in the time of COVID
Don’t Leave the Lemongrass Leaves, Alicia Allen
      Don't toss those fragrant leaves!
      Make a lemongrass ring for seasoning, or potpourri!
Garden Journaling, Kathy Musser
      Keeping track of every little thing that makes your garden grow.
Love-inspired DIY Recipes, Jessicka Nebesni
      Bath bombs, body scrub, and massage oil - oh my!
Boneset & Peppermint and Super-Hot Tea, Jenel Schaffer
      How to make a really good cup of tea, and a recipe for
      Boneset and Peppermint tea.
Tools Every Gardener Should Have, J.L. Davidson
      Gather your garden tools while ye may!
Winter Mood Booster Herbs, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
      A few helpful herbs for the dark months, and a lovely recipe.
Ginger Root Syrup with Lemon and Althaea Root, Marci Tsohonis
      Complete instructions to make this delicious and useful syrup.
The Perfect Trio for Recovery, Bri Martinez
      Step by step herbs to revive you after the flu.
Lotion Making, Rebekah Bailey
      A little more complicated than salve because liquid is added
      to the mix. Everything you need to get started including recipes!
Simple Self-Care Rituals, Stillroom Style, Catherine Ann Love
      Favorite herbs for drinking (tea) or bathing (tea)
The Benefits of Bay Laurel, Kristine Brown RH(AHG)
      All about Bay Laurel, and how to make a tea, oil,and syrup.
15 Tips for Starting Your Own Seeds, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
      It really will be time to get started before you know it!
Dutsi 5 Lums (5 Nectars Bath), Nashalla G. Nyinda TMD Menpa
      From the Lums (bath or compress) chapter in the Tibetan Medical
     tradition, complete instructions.

Be sure to check it out and visit our website to read several samples (links at the bottom of the homepage), not to mention all the books and herbal items that are just waiting for you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Winter 2020 Mini Sample

Winter 2020 mini (sample)

Find inside:

Zombie Apocalypse

Herbal Winter Remedies

 You Might Be an Herbie

 Warming Masala Chai 

 Handmade Holidays...

Monday, December 07, 2020

Thinking about an herbal program?

My Experience with Rosemary Gladstar's
The Science and Art of Herbalism

Molly Sams 



I began this course closer to novice but felt much more comfortable toward the end. Rosemary Gladstar  broke down the basics of herbalism and created comprehensive recipes, assignments, and crafts that you can use for possibly your entire herbal future or career. For those just dipping a toe into herbalism this class takes you from thyme to tincture. And with the detail comes thoughtful, eloquent writing, which made it easier to digest the concepts and practices in the course.

For the more learned herbalists it is wonderful review. I believe that (though I do struggle to embrace at times) returning to basic ideas and procedures can help you hewn your craft, herbal or otherwise. Having this course as a resource may certainly help jog an experienced herbalist's memory or give them a new perspective of a plant or product. Though I don't consider myself an experienced herbalist by any means, (nor will I ever, there's just too much to learn) I can see how this may be beneficial even for the well-versed herbalist.

I have to say Ms. Gladstar has a solid team helping out students as well. They are quick to answer any and all questions and the turnaround on grading homework was within the week. Helen Ward was the person I regularly chatted with over email and she was incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. If I ever have the pleasure of meeting her, I at least owe her a cup of coffee.

My last accolade has to go to the publishing of their course. It is colorful, organized, and downright beautiful. Having such a complete and cohesive medium made learning easy.

So if you're wondering if you should try it out, try it out! You'll be able to further your education and understanding of herbalism. You may even find out you have a knack for it.  

There is currently a sale going on.  Check it out!

 CLICK HERE for details

(note - affiliate link)


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Stock Up and Avoid Hoarding

   Since we've gone digital, we've been sending out a small EXTRA on the in-between months.  We never know what it's going to be.  For this EXTRA, we decided to ask around on social media, and try to come up with a list for grocery shopping, and also a list of herbs to have on hand.  Having what is needed takes one thing off the list of stressors.

    Although we've been getting groceries once a week or less, and being pretty strict about doing without if we don't have it, we were pretty pleased with some of the ideas that came in and realized there were things we hadn't considered that would make our lives easier.

   Because it seems like something that might help folks who aren't accustomed to not being able to stop at the store every day or so on the way home from work, we are sharing it here and on social media.   Here they are.  We hope you will find them helpful.

Contributors for the grocery list:  *Thanks to the following contributors: Gin Dugan, Tracy Aiello, Christine Tolf, Nana Frazier, Virginia Lee Adi, Samantha Cor-win, Jodi Reinhart, Heather Níc An Fhleisdeir, Camille Cook Lee, Frances Malone, Holly O'Brien, Angela Bowman, Gail Faith Edwards, Sylett Strickland, Iris P. Weaver, Sarah Preston, Susan Hess, Marci Tsohonis, Gale LaScala, Nanette Blank, Barbara Steele

Thanks all!

Subscribe to The Essential Herbal

Saturday, October 24, 2020

November December 2020 - The Essential Herbal Magazine

This is the third digital-only issue, and we've been very gratified to have so many of our readers stick with us and try to get accustomed to the new format.  Some of you have let us know that it is just fine.  Some like it better!  And of course, some of you would like us to get back to print.  That's unlikely, I'm afraid.  Instead, we'll just try to make it so good you don't notice :-) 
The "EXTRA" that we put out every other month has been very well received.  We know that there will be times when it is something small, like a puzzle or recipe/remedy, but for the time being we've got some great content to send along.



Cover, Kristine Brown

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams

Spice & Herb Holiday Treats, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
     Is this the year to try interesting dishes without the pressure of large gatherings?

Herbal Foods for Gifts & Entertaining, Alicia Allen 
     Herbal delights for entertaining and gifting

Herbal Tools, Rebekah Bailey 
     There’s time to let Santa know about these favorites

FAQ @ the Herb Farm - Pt. 2, Kathy Musser 
     Kathy shares the answers to her most commonly asked questions.

What are Bitters & Recipe, Elise Stillwell
     Information and a great recipe to give making your own bitters a whirl 

Fighting the Winter Blues with Pine, Bri Martinez 
     Health benefits of pine

Cranberry Condiments, Marci Tsohonis 
     Cranberry perfection AND you’re going to need a steam canner.  I’ve got mine!

Moringa “The Miracle Tree,” Sandy Michelsen 
     The goods on Moringa

Holly, Herb of the Holidays, Tina Sams 
     Why do we bring holly inside over the holidays?

The Gift of Solomon’s Seal, Tina Sams 
     My new favorite herb (don’t tell holy basil or elderberry), there are a lot of reasons to grow SS

Holiday Crafting, Group Article 
     Several contributors share crafts

Lichgate - Through the Lens, Jennifer Sheffield 
     How the grounds of a secluded cottage harbor space to learn to live by the seasons

Meet Our Contributors

Scents of the Season - Frankincense & Myrrh, Tina Sams 
     Precious resins remembered at Christmas

Thursday, September 24, 2020

... and she had all these odd bottles and jars.

There's something I think about every autumn when there are piles of drying plants on most surfaces, jars of roots and seeds, and the dehydrator is running pretty regularly. I'll show you, but you have to pretend you don't see the dust. 

Many years ago my sister and I set out to begin our business, and a friend who had worked for a fairly well known TX potpourri maker agreed to teach us the basics of potpourri. 

Arriving at her home, talk turned to how she'd just moved in recently.  There were some rumors about the old woman who'd lived there before, and when they looked at the house there were odd bottles and jars full of roots and plants floating in liquid.  Plants hung from the rafters.  My sister and I were hanging on her words eager to hear more, but we found it way more interesting than our friend.  She dismissed the old woman as "a witch" and didn't want to talk of the rumors.

Now, I think I might be that old woman.  My house is like the inside of a 7 year old's pocket, except for the live frogs.  Beside me at this very moment is a small jar full of lavender buds from some of this year's crop and a Mason jar of mint tea. Also, the neighbor kids seem a little scared of me.

Beginning with this picture up near the ceiling - a foot long pine cone, a couple gourds, feathers and dried plants, and a twisted piece of vine.  But this is nothing.

Downstairs, many of the tinctures are lined up on this shelving that takes up one wall.

Out in the sun room off the kitchen, there are jars of seeds, dried lemons, dried berries, and random herb equipment.
jars of seeds
On the counter, a large, dried Solomon's seal root waits to find out where it will wind up.

solomons seal root
One of the cabinets holds the collection of old herb stuff (and other random or dear things).
antique herb packages and bottles
The table in the kitchen catches the bunches of herbs that come in to be dried.  Goldenrod, mint flower spikes, hyssop, jewelweed seeds, holy basil, and white sage dry perfectly on this surface as long as the piles are small.
kitchen table with dried herbs
The kitchen counter is never clear of stuff.  Medicine, experiments (that jar of candied kumquat rinds, for instance), and seasonings land here and stay way too long.
concoctions on kitchen counter
The dining room hutch catches slightly different items when she's lucky.  Usually the loose plant matter either stays in the kitchen or goes all the way down to the work room. So here are shells, stones, and pressed botanicals.
seashell, crystals oils and art
This is another shelving unit downstairs.  I need one more for the sake of organization.  Rows and rows of jars and bottles of all sizes from 3 oz to 1 gallon.
dried herbs in jars

This is only scratching the surface.  There isn't a drawer or shelf without some remnant of nature or some herbal project I'm working on.  A bottle cap holding a dozen beans, acorns, feathers, and rocks. a jar of fragrant salve - it all infuses my life.

Sometimes I wonder if someone was looking around my house without knowing me, what they'd think when they saw this wonderful cache of every herb, oil, or preparation I could ever want.  They'd probably be looking for my broom.

Friday, August 28, 2020

September - October 2020 Essential Herbal

 The latest issue went out on the 20th and here's an idea of what you'll find inside.  In the meantime, we're working away on the extra content for Sept 20th, and the deadline for November/December (TWENTY YEARS!!!) is Sept 1.  
This issue is so full - you'll love it!

OR Single Issue Only


Ana ‘Vee’ Valdez
   Stunning depiction of the harvest and preparation for winter in the world of the fae.
Field Notes from the Editor                                                                               
Herbal Sugars, Alicia Allen
  Tons of ideas for herbs to use AND recipes that incorporate the finished sugars. 

Last Year’s Herbs, Maryanne Schwartz
  There might be ways to utilize instead of tossing older herbs.                    
Herbal Energetics, Daniel Cashman
   How does taste affect the properties of herbs?     

Classic Rosehip Jam Recipe, Jessicka Nobesni
   Delicious, spicy, and wholesome jam 

White Horehound, Jackie Johnson
   Folklore, usefulness, remedies, and a recipe 

FAQ @ the Herb Farm, Kathy Musser
   What do you want to ask the herb farmer?  Maybe it’s already answered!           
Flu Fighter Tea, Kristine Brown
   From Kristine’s newest book, The Homesteader’s Guide to Growing Herbs  

Facebook Group Question
   What new herb did you grow or use this year?  Why?                                
Calendula officianalis, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
   All about Calendula, along with a recipe for cookies as well as salve instructions   

Foot Soaks, Rebekah Bailey
   Deep cleaning and healing soaks

It’s Bacopa, Bacopa Cabana, Tina Sams
   Bacopa appears to be a premier brain protecting herb!                               
A Talk with an Herbalist, Susan Hess
   Susan talks about the effects of moving a business a few hundred miles, and keeping up with the changes that accompanied the virus.     

More Last Year’s Herbs, Maryanne Schwartz
   … and then she thought of more!                                                                    
Gatherings, Tina Sams
   I can’t resist flowers and petals and bits of leaves or twigs.  
Meet Our Contributors
Who are these people?
Comforting Immunity Stew, Tina Sams 
   Warming, and delicious meal to welcome the cooler weather             

Get your copy today :-)

SUBSCRIBE! or Single Issue Only

Friday, August 21, 2020

We Are Now 100% Digital

 We sent out our second digital-only issue yesterday, and since I've gotten a few questions, I'm writing this and will send it out to subscribers.

In the Mar/Apr '20 issue, I wrote that I was hopeful that we would be able to finish the year out as a print magazine, but would be transitioning to digital from there.  I explained in (probably too much) detail the finances involved with print, and that other projects and work were subsidizing the magazine.  We'd lost a couple important advertisers, but we wanted to make it a full 20 years. 

In March, the virus hit and we knew it was not going to happen.  In the last 20 years, the magazine has weathered some severe conditions, and when the chips are down, people drop magazines and non-essential entertainment.  We do not have the financial resources to weather another period like that.  Right now, I'm looking at the mail situation, and considering that it was always expected that missing magazines would be replaced, shuddering at the thought of entire issues going missing.  They'd need to be reprinted and remailed First Class at my expense.  It would be a nightmare.

In the May/June issue Field Notes, I wrote:

"Well, I didn’t see this coming.  In the Mar/Apr issue I explained that we would try to print until next year, depending entirely on income, and clearly that is not going to happen.  I realize that there’s no way to do this without some of you who really love the print magazine feeling cheated, but this is beyond my control.  I’m fairly certain this is the last printed magazine.  Lots of you renewed directly to the pdf, and that was much appreciated.
As mentioned in the last issue, we will be coming up with content of different types to send out the in months that aren’t issue months.  I hope that will lessen the sting.  It was my intent to slowly, with clear information and options offered, shift over to pdf.  COVID-19 had other ideas.
PLEASE SEND US THE EMAIL THAT YOU’D LIKE US TO USE.  Send it to essentialherbal@gmail.com please.  If you receive our renewal reminder emails, we’ve got your email.
On the other hand, I feel very fortunate that we can continue to come into your homes and share together in spite of this pandemic.  We can help each other through this."

I hope this helps to clear up the confusion. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020


This soup never turned my head until our days at the Renn Faire.  90+ degrees in costume called for lunch that was not just "not hot," but COLD.  The soup and bread booth brought gazpacho one day, and that was it.  I was in love.

I'm seeing lots of people with an overflow of tomatoes and cucumbers, so here's a great idea to help use them up!  We're in the middle of a l-o-o-o-o-ong heat wave here, so this looks delicious.

From the Jul/Aug 2008 issue of The Essential Herbal

Louisiana Lagniappe
from Sarah Liberta


Spain’s famous salad-soup is a delicious go-to dish for hot summer days.  Made in the blender or food processor, it’s ready to chill in minutes.  Instead of the usual tomato juice base, I prefer using vegetable juice cocktail, which enhances the complex flavor blend of the fresh veggies and herbs.


2 large ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 green onions
1 small sweet onion
2 ribs celery
3 cloves garlic
6 cups vegetable juice cocktail (1 48-ounce can)
2 Tblsp wine vinegar
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil
Tabasco sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste


Cut vegetables into large chunks and add to blender or food processor with all other ingredients.  Blend or pulse a few seconds, leaving small bits of vegetable for texture.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Chill in the refrigerator several hours, allowing the flavors to marry.  Serve in chilled bowls, and garnish with thin cucumber slices or finely chopped fresh herbs.  If you prefer the texture of hand-cut vegetables, use 1/4-inch dice and skip the blending/processing.

Baton Rouge, LA