EdibleNotesReviews's Reviews > Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using & Enjoying More Than 100 Herbs

Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung
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Mar 14, 11

bookshelves: sustainability, market-farming, garden, local-food, cooking
Read in March, 2011

It is hard to imagine a more concise, enlightened or creative approach to the art, science and spirituality of herb gardening than Homegrown Herbs by noted herbalist and gardener Tammi Hartung (Storey Publishing). Hartung brings the spirit of plant and place together with gardeners and cooks in a way in this book that is at once uplifting, challenging and achievable.

It seems that great pains have been taken in many books on the subject of growing herbs and their uses to make them both devoid of any soul. So often, the beautiful common names of herbs are masked by the ponderous Latin (why do we suffer this any longer in gardening books for anyone other than scientists?) and the natural likes and dislikes of the plants themselves are generally ignored in favor of our gardening convenience. Hartung allows the names and plants to speak for themselves and guided with her intuitive words, beginning and experienced growers can learn for themselves about natural inclinations of herbs.

Hartung offers clear charts to plant characteristics and to their habitat preferences and again, organized by common names (with Latin following for all of you purists). The charts are separated by clearly illustrated and explained designs for raised and formal herb gardens as well as herbs in food gardens and gardens for children. Theme gardens are fun and Hartung includes another excellent and highly usable chart indicating common herbs that are appropriate for children, culinary, scented, tea, medicinal and wildlife garden uses.

Any garden is only as good as its soil and Hartung shares an excellent chapter of knowledge on soil development, composting and beneficial additions especially for herb gardens. Soil testing, amendments and natural complements are well covered and turned over effortlessly with Hartung’s natural, encouraging and knowledgeable style. Hartung supplies an excellent resource on propagation that is among the clearest and easiest to follow to be found in book form. So much more can be made of a life in the garden through propagation; starting from seeds, grafts, cuttings and more than could ever be achieved by just ordering plants from a catalogue.

Harvesting and processing herbs is no little job especially when an entire row is ready to go. Hartung spells out what can or should be harvested of the major herbs, how to save seeds, dry herbs efficiently and includes another excellent, highly usable chart on preservation based on the common name of the herb in question. No doubts or fumbling around trying to find the answer in another book or online. It’s all right here.

A great set of recipes are included that show how important herbs are to cuisines from around the world. It is hard to imagine a food or for that matter a meal, that does not benefit from the proper use of herbs. While it’s is not intended to be a cookbook, the recipes included are worthy references and will lead the adventurous to explore other ideas and cuisines easily.

Hartung wraps up the over-all well designed text with chapters on common pests and a bit of Integrated Pest Management techniques, medicinal uses for herbs with some preparations to consider and then devotes the last 70 pages or so to the ‘personalities’ of herbs. This is where the book really proves its value. In addition to the usual ‘shade or sun’ or simple hardiness zone information, Hartung presents the personality of each plant, its likes and dislikes in soil, water and companion plants. The photography in this section clearly shows each plant for rapid identification, a godsend in comparison to other books that may only show one of three. Hartung wraps up each listing with information on propagation, harvesting, culinary and medicinal uses and bloom traits; all in one place about each herb and organized by common names. Brilliantly simple and totally effective.

The new or experienced herb gardener, including those considering commercial benefits will not be led astray by Hartung or Homegrown Herbs. A lifetime of work and observation has gone into making it this good and the results are not to be missed.

Edible Notes received a copy of this book directly from the publisher and was not compensated in any way for this review
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