Savory - 2015 Herb Of The Year

   There are two varities, minimally, of Savory and generally described as "Summer & Winter" due to their flavor and habit.  Summer savory is an annual and Winter savory is a perennial in many zones.   At Wake Forest Herbfest 2015 we will feature both varities of this year's herb of the year, Savory.

    Below reprinted from to give you some more ideas on what to do with Savory:

    Savory, an herb rich in tradition and legend, has such a fine taste that a whole class of cookery is attached to it. How many times have you heard the phrase "a savory stew?" Savory is used in herb combinations, such as

Herbes de Provence, a French combination of herbs used for seasoning. It also has healing properties and has been used for centuries for a variety of ills. It should be noted that there are two distinct varieties of savory -

summer and winter.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber adds, "Summer Savory is an annual--completing its life cycle in one year. Winter Savory is a perennial, Zone 6. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall."

History of Savory

The old English word "saverey" was derived from the Latin "satureia." Roughly translated, it means "satyr's herb." It has been associated with love potions for centuries. The famous French herbalist Maurice Mességué suggested

savory instead of ginseng to help couples restore happiness in the bedroom. It has long been used to restore the sex drive. Romans used savory as a medicinal and culinary herb long before they discovered pepper. They used it

as a medicinal herb for bee stings, and as an aphrodisiac. When the Romans brought savory to England, it was used there for poultry stuffing instead of a medicinal herb .

The early colonists brought savory to America to use as an aid for indigestion. A lot of the old cookbooks discuss savory and its uses.

Medicinal Uses

As a medicine, savory is used for treating several ailments. Summer savory is most often used for healing. Summer savory is said to increase sex drive, while winter savory decreases it. Active ingredients of savory are

carvacrol, p-cymene and tannins. It is an astringent and mild antiseptic. A tea made from summer savory is said to control diarrhea, stomachache and mild sore throat. In Europe, it is often taken by diabetics to reduce

excessive thirst. Rubbing a sprig of savory on an insect bite will bring instant relief. An ointment made from savory works well for relief of minor rashes and skin irritations.

Culinary Uses

Savory is best known for its culinary powers. Both summer and winter savory are used in cooking. Summer savory has a peppery taste much like thyme, while winter savory has a more piney taste. Savory blends well with other

herbs such as basil, bay leaf, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. It is said that the taste of savory brings all these herbs together for a unique flavor.

Savory is popular in teas, herbed butters, and flavored vinegars. It complements beef soup and stews, chicken soup, eggs, green beans, peas, rutabagas, asparagus, onions, cabbage, and lentils. Use savory when cooking liver,

fish and game. Winter savory, which has a stronger presence, works well with game that has a strong flavor.

Growing Savory

Savory is best grown from seed and cuttings. It grows well in sandy loam soils with a pH balance of 6.8. Savory likes full sun, so plan your herb garden accordingly.

Summer savory is a bushy annual with finely haired stems. There are about 30 species of savory, but summer and winter are the best known. The savory plant is highly aromatic. It's woody at the base and forms a compact bush

about 1 to 1 1/2 feet in height. Leaves are soft and linear, and about 1 inch long. They are grayish, turning purple in late summer. Savory flowers in mid-July, with white or pale pink 1/4-inch blooms grouped in terminal


TIP: Karen adds, "Summer Savory readily self-seeds and can come back year after year. Allow a few flowers to go to seed in your garden and you will be rewarded with more summer savory the following season."

Savory seed germinate quickly. Planting in flats at a depth of 1/8-inch and then transplanting the seedlings after all danger of frost works best. Space about 10 inches apart, and keep the plants well watered for optimum


TIP: Karen advises, "Seeds require some light for germination, so be sure not to cover them deeply with soil."

Harvesting and Storage

You can begin to take savory as soon as plants reach 6 inches in height. Keeping the plant pruned back insures continued harvest. When they insist on flowering, cut the whole plant and put it on a screen or paper in a warm

shady place. When dry, strip the leaves and store them in airtight jars or tins. When the seed begins to turn brown, harvest them for next year's planting.

TIP: Karen suggests, "To speed the drying time of herbs, try chopping into small pieces and laying them on a screen. Once they are dry, put them in an airtight container and save for later use."

Cooking With Savory

Mince fresh summer savory leaves and combine with garlic, bay and lemon for a good marinade for fish. Make baked mozzarella sticks by cutting the cheese into squares, dip in eggs and dredge in bread crumbs with minced savory

leaves. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the cheese just begins to melt.

The savories have been used in cooking for over 2,000 years. As a medicinal herb, it has many uses. As an aromatic, it has few peers. Try growing both summer and winter savory in your herb garden this year.

Read more:

A Gigantic Grower - The Mexico Midget Salad Tomato Plant

From our perennial Master Gardener:

  "Neena, one of my master gardener friends, bought this Mexico midget at this years HerbFest and said that it's enormous.    This is the plant after several severe prunings.  "

   What makes this so outstanding is not only the size but Mexico Midget variety of tomato is known for it's prolific output.   Not only do you get a vast amount of small tomatoes, but also the Mexico Midget tends to drop the tomatoes and they in turn reseed around the plant.  By being an organic, heirloom, non GMO variety it's possible to buy 1 plant and through self seeding never buy another plant again.

Artemisia "Silver Mound" - Van Gogh's Bad Choice For Absinthe

     Van Gogh may have kept his ear had he not been sipping absinthe ( Banned in the U.S.), a toxicating substance derived from the plant species "artemisia".   Yes it was known that Van Gogh was imbibing on absinthe when he made that fateful choice to amputate his ear.   But the basic rule is not to use artemisia internally for it's medical properties but to use  externally as a poultice for:

  • bruises
  • sprains
  • antiseptic for topical infections

    Artemisia is also called  "wormwood," and has been used over the centuries to treat people for worms - accounting for the common name.  There are presently over 400 varieties of artemisia.  Depending on native plants artemisia had numerous other medicinal uses; i.e., to treat poor circulation, rheumatism, colds, fevers, jaundice, stomach problems, and more.  However, it is generally considered unsafe for internal use; because the active ingredient in artemisia is thujone, which is a narcotic and a poison which causes convulsions.  

Practicial Uses:
    It is an effective insect repellant, especially against black flea beetles, cabbageworm butterflies and in some instances ants.  It is also a great plant to have around to discourage slugs.  Due to the absinthe in the plant it is not always the best neighbor for surrounding plants and some feel it dwarfs their growth. If you have concerns, though, give your artemisia its own special place and use as a true specimen plant in it's own niche.

     One of the nicer aspects of artemisia is using it in your landscape as a specimen plant or for borders or mounding as a visual feature.  The silvery aspect of the leaves makes it stand out in areas where greens, yellows, and browns are predominant coloration.   At night the silver leaves reflect the moon's light and it becomes a very attractive night time addition to the landscape.  Many people use artemisia as a ground cover plant and plant it to edge out areas of their yard, gardens in the overall landscape design.   The distinctive color and habit helps to deliniate borders.  The problem with artemisia over time is the plant tends to get "heavy in the middle" and the branches will flop down leaving a mound with a hole in it.   The way to avoid this issue is to simply cut back the branches in early spring so they do not get as heavy and thus the moundings aspects of the plant's habit are retained.  The other control method is to divide and plant each spring when one of the plants is getting too large.    Artemisia does have a flower, generally yellow, however it is of little concern as the flower does not last long and is small in overall appearance of the plant. 

Growing Conditions:
   Artemisia grows in zones 3- 7 and is known as a Mediterranean herb.    It requires little, if any, fertilization.  The more sunlight the better for growth.  The "deal killer" to artemisia in your landscape is "wet feet".  Being a meditteranean herb the ideal soil is sandy, not rich in nutrient content, and rain falls on the plant, into the ground and passes away from the roots.  The plant will not survive in a moist environment.

Artemisia "powis castle"


Artemisia 'Silver Mound' and 'Powis Castle" will be available at HerbFest 2014.   Artemisia is the International Herb Association Herb of the Year in 2014.


      What do you do with all those mint leaves you harvest each year?     There are so many uses and benefits of mint as pointed out by Organic Facts in the article below.   

    When you see the varities of mint it becomes apparent how they developed and were cultivated over time.  Lemon, orange, lime, pineapple mints are just the tip of the

iceberg.  Basically all mints derived from the basic spearmint or peppermint plants and over time certain characteristics of the plants were culled for flavor and fragrance. 

The biggest user of mint oil is Wrigley's, the gum company.

Mint, the well known mouth and breath freshener that is scientifically known as Mentha, has more than two dozen species and hundreds of varieties. It is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years for its remarkable medicinal properties.

The market is full of products like tooth paste, chewing gum, breath fresheners, candy and inhalers which have mint as their base element. Most of us are familiar with the refreshing application of mint, but it has far more to offer than that.

Health Benefits of Mint Leaves

The health benefits of mint include the following:

Digestion: Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation. When you feel sick to your stomach, drinking a cup of mint tea can give you relief. Also, if you are someone who travels long distances via plane or boat, the menthol oil derived from mint can be very soothing for nausea and related motion sickness.


The aroma of mint activates the salivary glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion. These attributes are why mint is extensively used in the culinary arts. Much of the western world includes mint as a part of appetizers or as an element of palate cleansers, to be eaten before the main course so the food will digest comfortably.

Nausea & Headache: Again, the strong and refreshing aroma of mint is a quick and effective remedy for nausea. Even just the smell of mint oil or freshly crushed mint leaves or the use of any product with mint flavor, and your stomach issues will be alleviated. In fact, many people keep menthol oil or mint-flavored products with them at all time to avoid nausea. Balms with a mint base or basic mint oil, when rubbed on the forehead and nose, gives quick relief in case of headache. Mint is a naturally soothing substance, so it can alleviate the inflammation and temperature rise that is often associated with headaches and migraines.

Respiratory Disorders and Coughs: The strong aroma of mint is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose, throat, bronchi and lungs, which gives relief for respiratory disorders that often result from asthma and the common cold. As mint cools and soothes the throat, nose and other respiratory channels, it relieves the irritation which causes chronic coughing. This is the main reason why so many balms are based on mint. Unlike the inhalers that are based on aerosols, those with mint as the fundamental component tend to be more effective and eco-friendly as well.

Asthma: Regular use of mint is very beneficial for asthma patients, as it is a good relaxant and relieves congestion. That being said, using too much mint in this way can also irritate the nose and throat.

MintDepression and Fatigue: Mint is a natural stimulant, and the smell alone can be enough to charge your batteries and get your brain functioning on a high level again. If you are feeling sluggish, anxious, depressed, or simply exhausted, mint and its derivative essential oils can help. It can be ingested, applied topically in a salve form, or inhaled as a vapor, and all of those techniques can give you a much-needed boost! A popular way to get good results in an easy manner is to put a few drops of mint essential oil or menthol oil on your pillow at night and let it work on your body and mind while you sleep.

Skin Care and Pimples: While mint oil is a good antiseptic and anti-pruritic material, mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes skin, and helps to cure infections and itchiness, as well as being a good way to reduce pimples, and it can even relieve some of the symptoms of acne. Its anti-pruritic properties can be used for treating insect bites like those of mosquitoes, honeybees, hornets, wasps, and gnats. The cooling sensation will relieve you of the irritating sensation to scratch, and the anti-inflammatory nature of mint will bring down swelling! In that same vein, mint oil is often a basic component of bug repellent products like citronella candles, because the strong aroma is unappealing to most insects.

Memory Loss: A recent study explored the effects that mint has on alertness, retention, and cognitive function. It found that people who frequently use chewing gum, whose major active ingredient is mint, had higher levels of memory retention and mental alertness than those who did not. The stimulant qualities of mint, once again, have shown yet another reason to pop that stick of gum in your mouth, or chew some leaves when you’re feeling less than brilliant!


Weight Loss: Aside from all the other health benefits of mint, it also can help in your efforts to lose weight in a healthy way! Mint is a stimulant, as we’ve already mentioned, but it also stimulates the digestive enzymesthat absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into usable energy. Therefore, by adding mint to your diet, you are increasing the amount of fat that is being consumed and put to use, rather than being stored and contributing to your weight gain!

Female Sterility: There are mixed opinions regarding the role of mint in treating this condition. Some argue that prolonged use of menthol may cause sterility, reducing a woman’s ability to conceive by interfering with the production of ova and killing these gametes. This is due to the germicidal and insecticidal properties of mint, which are beneficial for so many other health concerns. Other research has claimed that men who smoke menthol cigarettes are more likely to suffer from impotency than those who smoke normal cigarettes. It is not certain whether this is due to the tobacco alone or if the mentholated aspect has anything do with it. Another group or researchers suggest that mint may actually be used to treat sterility in females. Suffice to say, a great deal of further research must be done on the effects of mint in both male impotency and female sterility.

Breast Feeding: For many women, breastfeeding is a beautiful part of raising a child, but it can seriously damage your breasts and nipples. Studies have shown that mint oil can reduce the nipple cracks and nipple pain that so often accompany breastfeeding.

Allergies and Hay Fever: Season allergies and hay fever (also known as rhinitis) affect millions of people around the world at certain times of the year. Extracts from mint leaves have been shown to inhibit the release of histamines, which often spur on the severe nasal symptoms that are associated with hay fever and seasonal allergies.

mintOral Care: Improving the health of a person’s mouth is a well known benefit of mint. Since it has germicidal qualities and quickly freshens breath, it adds to oral health by inhibiting harmful bacterial growth inside the mouth and by cleaning the tongue and teeth. This is why mint used to be rubbed directly on the teeth and gums to refresh the mouth and eliminate dangerous forms of growth. In modern times, for the same reason, mint is one of the most common elements in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other dental hygiene products. Of course, the easiest way to get these results is to simply chew on the leaves.

Cancer: Current research shows that certain enzymes that can be found in mint may help prevent and treat cancer.

Other Benefits: Besides its wide industrial use in foods like ice-cream and chocolates, as well as in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, medicines, inhalers and breath fresheners, it is also used as a condiment and a decorative item in culinary preparation around the world. Drinks and foods containing mint cool you off in the summer, and it is often included in summer cocktails for a refreshing burst of flavor. It is also a good relaxant.

One peculiar property of mint that seems quite contrary to its traditional cooling and soothing effects is that it induces sweating if consumed during fever, thereby breaking the fever and speeding the rate of recovery. Mint juice can also be applied to heal and soothe burns. It is also beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism. Furthermore, mint is also said to improve the activity of the brain, although legitimate and consistent research on its neurological impact has yet to be completed.

Are you feeling tired or bored after reading all of that info on mint? Why don’t you have a stick of mint chewing gum? That may be just the refreshing boost you need!


Will Genetically Modified Insects Be Safer Than Using Insecticides?


    As with all changes made one has to measure the detriments of not changing with the benefits of change.   Of course the "hidden" is the NIC - Not Intended Consequences.   That is the case as you read this article by Joe Arrigo discussing the positives of using GM bees  GM insects are already being used to save crops and also to ward off diseases transmitted by other insects such as mosquitos.  Go here to....