Angelica (Archangelica officinalis, Hoffm.), a biennial or perennial herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ, so called from its supposed medicinal qualities. It is believed to be a native of Syria, from[Pg 57][Pg 56] whence it has spread to many cool European climates, especially Lapland and the Alps, where it has become naturalized.

Description. Its roots are long, spindle-shaped, fleshy, and sometimes weigh three pounds; its stems stout, herbaceous (not woody), fluted, often more than 4 feet tall, and hollow. Leaves long-stalked, frequently 3 feet in length, reddish purple at the clasping bases, and composed, in the larger ones, of numerous small leaflets, in three principal groups, which are each subdivided into three lesser groups; the flowers are generally yellowish or greenish, small and numerous, in large roundish umbels; its seeds pale yellow, membranous-edged, oblong flattened on one side, convex on the other, which is marked with three conspicuous ribs.

Cultivation. Since the seeds lose their vitality rapidly, rarely being viable after the first year, they should be sown as soon as ripe in late summer or early autumn, or not later than the following spring after having been kept during the winter in a cold storeroom. The soil should be moderately rich, rather light, deep, well drained, but moist and well supplied with humus. It should be deeply prepared and kept loose and open as long as tools can be used among the plants, which may be left to care for themselves as soon as they shade the ground well.

Prophecy of Many Toothsome Dishes
Prophecy of Many Toothsome Dishes

In the autumn, the seeds may be sown where the plants are to remain or preferably in a nursery bed, which usually does not need protection during the winter. In the spring a mild hotbed, a cold frame or a nursery bed in the garden may be used, accord[Pg 58]ing to the earliness of planting. Half an inch is deep enough to cover the seeds. The seedlings should be transplanted when still small for their first summer's growth, a space of about 18 inches being allowed between them. In the autumn they should be removed to permanent quarters, the plants being set 3 feet apart.

If well grown, the leaves may be cut for use during the summer after transplanting; the plants may not, however, produce seed until the following season. Unless seed is desired, the tops should be cut and destroyed at or before flowering time, because, if this be not done, the garden is apt to become overrun with angelica seedlings. If the seeds are wanted, they should be gathered and treated as indicated on page 28. After producing seed, the plants frequently die; but by cutting down the tops when the flower heads first appear, and thus preventing the formation of seed, the plants may continue for several years longer.

Uses. The stems and leaf stalks, while still succulent, are eaten as a salad or are roasted or boiled like potatoes. In Europe, they are frequently employed as a garnish or as an adjunct to dishes of meat and fish. They are also largely used for making candied angelica. (See below.) Formerly the stems were blanched like celery and were very popular as a vegetable; now they are little used in the United States. The tender leaves are often boiled and eaten as a substitute for spinach. Less in America than in Europe, the seeds, which, like other parts of the plant, are aromatic and bitterish, are used for flavor[Pg 59]ing various beverages, cakes, and candies, especially "comfits."

Oil of angelica is obtained from the seeds by distillation with steam or boiling water, the vapor being condensed and the oil separated by gravity. It is also obtained in smaller quantity from the roots, 200 pounds of which, it is said, yield only about one pound of the oil. Like the seeds, the oil is used for flavoring.

Angelica candied. Green says: The fresh roots, the tender stems, the leaf stalks and the midribs of the leaves make a pleasing aromatic candy. When fresh gathered the plant is rather too bitter for use. This flavor may be reduced by boiling. The parts should first be sliced lengthwise, to remove the pith. The length of time will depend somewhat upon the thickness of the pieces. A few minutes is usually sufficient. After removal and draining the pieces are put in a syrup of granulated sugar and boiled till full candy density is reached. The kettle is then removed from the fire and the contents allowed to cool. When almost cold the pieces are to be taken out and allowed to dry.

Anise (Pimpinella Anisum, Linn.), an annual herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ. It is a native of southwestern Asia, northern Africa and south-eastern Europe, whence it has been introduced by man throughout the Mediterranean region, into Germany, and to some extent into other temperate regions of both hemispheres, but seems not to be known anywhere in the wild state or as an escape from gardens. To judge from its mention in the Scriptures (Matthew xxiii, 23), it was highly valued[Pg 61][Pg 60] as a cultivated crop prior to our era, not only in Palestine, but elsewhere in the East. Many Greek and Roman authors, especially Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Pliny and Paladius, wrote more or less fully of its cultivation and uses.

Anise in Flower and in Fruit
Anise in Flower and in Fruit

From their days to the present it seems to have enjoyed general popularity. In the ninth century, Charlemagne commanded that it be grown upon the imperial farms; in the thirteenth, Albertus Magnus speaks highly of it; and since then many agricultural writers have devoted attention to it. But though it has been cultivated for at least two thousand years and is now extensively grown in Malta, Spain, southern France, Russia, Germany and India, which mainly supply the market, it seems not to have developed any improved varieties.

Description. - Its roots are white, spindle-shaped and rather fibrous; its stems about 18 inches tall, branchy, erect, slender, cylindrical; its root leaves lobed somewhat like those of celery; its stem leaves more and more finely cut toward the upper part of the stem, near the top of which they resemble fennel leaves in their finely divided segments; its flowers yellowish white, small, rather large, in loose umbels consisting of many umbellets; its fruits ("seeds") greenish-gray, small, ovoid or oblong in outline, longitudinally furrowed and ridged on the convex side, very aromatic, sweetish and pleasantly piquant.

Cultivation. - The [anise] seeds, which should be as fresh as possible, never more than two years old, should be sown in permanent quarters as soon as the weather becomes settled in early spring. They should be[Pg 62] planted ½ inch deep, about ½ inch asunder, in drills 15 or 18 inches apart, and the plants thinned when about 2 inches tall to stand 6 inches asunder. An ounce of seed should plant about 150 feet of drill. The plants, which do not transplant readily, thrive best in well-drained, light, rich, rather dry, loamy soils well exposed to the sun. A light application of well-rotted manure, careful preparation of the ground, clean and frequent cultivation, are the only requisites in the management of this crop.

In about four months from the sowing of the seed, and in about one month from the appearance of the flowers, the plants may be pulled, or preferably cut, for drying. (See page 25.) The climate and the soils in the warmer parts of the northern states appear to be favorable to the commercial cultivation of anise, which it seems should prove a profitable crop under proper management.

Uses. - The leaves are frequently employed as a garnish, for flavoring salads, and to a small extent as potherbs. Far more general, however, is the use of the seeds, which enter as a flavoring into various condiments, especially curry powders, many kinds of cake, pastry, and confectionery and into some kinds of cheese and bread. Anise oil is extensively employed for flavoring many beverages both alcoholic and non-spirituous and for disguising the unpleasant flavors of various drugs. The seeds are also ground and compounded with other fragrant materials for making sachet powders, and the oil mixed with other fluids for liquid perfumes. Various similar anise combinations are largely used in[Pg 63] perfuming soaps, pomatums and other toilet articles. The very volatile, nearly colorless oil is usually obtained by distillation with water, about 50 pounds of seed being required to produce one pound of oil. At Erfurt, Germany, where much of the commercial oil is made, the "hay" and the seeds are both used for distilling.

Balm (Melissa officinalis, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order Labiatæ. The popular name is a contraction of balsam, the plant having formerly been considered a specific for a host of ailments. The generic name, Melissa, is the Greek for bee and is an allusion to the fondness of bees for the abundant nectar of the flowers.

Balm is a native of southern Europe, where it was cultivated as a source of honey and as a sweet herb more than 2,000 years ago. It is frequently mentioned in Greek and Latin poetry and prose. Because of its use for anointing, Shakespeare referred to it in the glorious lines (King Richard II., act iii, scene 2):

"Not all the water in the rough, rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king."

As a useful plant it received attention from the pen of Pliny. From its home it has been introduced by man as a garden plant into nearly all temperate climates throughout the world, and is often found as an escape from gardens where introduced - occasionally in this role in the earliest settled of the United States. Very few well-marked varieties have been produced. A variegated one, now grown[Pg 64] for ornament as well as for culinary purposes, is probably the same as that mentioned by Mawe in 1778.

Description. - The roots are small and fibrous; the stems, about 18 inches tall, very numerous, erect or spreading, square; the leaves, green (except as mentioned), broadly ovate with toothed margins, opposite, rather succulent, highly scented; the flowers, few, whitish, or purplish, in small, loose, axillary, one-sided clusters borne from midsummer until late autumn; the seeds very small—more than 50,000 to the ounce.

Cultivation. - Balm is readily propagated by means of divisions, layers, cuttings, and by its seeds, which germinate fairly well even when four years old. Owing to its small size, the seed should be planted in a seedpan or flat in a greenhouse or hotbed, where all conditions can be controlled. The soil should be made very fine and friable, the thinly scattered seeds merely pressed upon the surface with a block or a brick, and water applied preferably through the bottom of the seedpan, which may be set in a shallow dish of water until the surface of the soil begins to appear moist.

When an inch tall the seedlings should be pricked out 2 inches apart in other, deeper flats and when about 4 inches tall set in the garden about 1 foot asunder in rows about 18 inches apart. When once established they may be increased readily by the artificial means mentioned. (See page 34.) Ordinary clean cultivation throughout the season, the removal of dead parts, and care to prevent the[Pg 65] plants from spreading unduly, are the only requisites of cultivation. Preferably the soil should be poor, rather dry, little if at all enriched and in a sunny place. The foliage of seedling plants or plants newly spring-set should be ready for use by midsummer; that of established plants from early spring until late autumn. For home use and market it should be cured as recommended on page 25, the leaves being very thinly spread and plentifully supplied with air because of their succulence. The temperature should be rather low.

Uses.—The foliage is widely used for flavoring soups, stews, sauces, and dressings, and, when fresh, to a small extent with salads. Otto or oil of balm, obtained by aqueous distillation from the "hay," is a pale yellow, essential and volatile oil highly prized in perfumery for its lemon-like odor, and is extensively employed for flavoring various beverages.

Sweet Basil
Sweet Basil

Basil (Ocymum basilicum, Linn.), an annual herb of the order Labiatæ. The popular name, derived from the specific, signifies royal or kingly, probably because of the plant's use in feasts. In France it is known as herb royale, royal herb. The generic name is derived from Oza, a Greek word signifying odor.

The plant is a native of tropical Asia, where for centuries, especially in India, it has been highly esteemed as a condiment. Probably the early Greek and Roman writers were well acquainted with it, but commentators are not decided. They suppose that the Okimon of Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Theophrastus is the same as Ocimum hortense of Columella and Varro.[Pg 66]

The plant's introduction into England was about 1548, or perhaps a little earlier, but probably not prior to 1538, because Turner does not mention it in his "Libellus," published in that year. It seems to have grown rapidly in popularity, for in 1586 Lyte speaks of it as if well known. In America it has been cultivated somewhat for about a century partly because of its fragrant leaves which are employed in bouquets, but mainly for flavoring culinary concoctions. In Australia it is also more or less grown, and in countries where French commerce or other interests have penetrated it is well known.

There are several related species which, in America less than in Europe or the East, have attracted attention. The most important of these is dwarf or bush basil (O. minimum, Linn.), a small Chilian species also reported from Cochin China. It was introduced into cultivation in Europe in 1573. On account of its compact form it is popular in gardens as an edging as well as a culinary herb, for more than a[Pg 67] century it has been grown in America. Sacred basil (O. sanctum), an oriental species, is cultivated near temples in India and its odoriferous oil extracted for religious uses. Formerly the common species was considered sacred by the Brahmins who used it especially in honor of Vishnu and in funeral rites. An African species, O. fruticosum, is highly valued at the Cape of Good Hope for its perfume.

Description.—From the small, fibrous roots the square stems stand erect about 1 foot tall. They are very branching and leafy. The leaves are green, except as noted below, ovate, pointed, opposite, somewhat toothed, rather succulent and highly fragrant. The little white flowers which appear in midsummer are racemed in leafy whorls, followed by small black fruits, popularly called seeds. These, like flaxseed, emit a mucilaginous substance when soaked in water. About 23,000 weigh an ounce, and 10 ounces fill a pint. Their vitality lasts about eight years.

Like most of the other culinary herbs, basil has varied little in several centuries; there are no well-marked varieties of modern origin. Only three varieties of common basil are listed in America; Vilmorin lists only five French ones. Purple basil has lilac flowers, and when grown in the sun also purple leaf stems and young branches. Lettuce-leaved basil has large, pale-green blistered and wrinkled leaves like those of lettuce. Its closely set clusters of flowers appear somewhat late. The leaves are larger and fewer than in the common variety.[Pg 68]

The dwarf species is more compact, branching and dainty than the common species. It has three varieties; one with deep violet foliage and stems and lilac white flowers, and two with green leaves, one very dense and compact.

East Indian, or Tree Basil (O. gratissimum, Linn.), a well-known species in the Orient, seems to have a substitute in O. suave, also known by the same popular name, and presumably the species cultivated in Europe and to some extent in America. It is an upright, branching annual, which forms a pyramidal bush about 20 inches tall and often 15 inches in diameter. It favors very warm situations and tropical countries.

Cultivation. - Basil is propagated by seeds. Because these are very small, they are best sown in flats under glass, covered lightly with finely sifted soil and moistened by standing in a shallow pan of water until the surface shows a wet spot. When about an inch tall, the seedlings must be pricked out 2 inches apart each way in larger-sized flats. When 3 inches tall they will be large enough for the garden, where they should be set 1 foot asunder in rows 15 to 18 inches apart. Often the seed is sown in the mellow border as early in the spring as the ground can be worked. This method demands perhaps more attention than the former, because of weeds and because the rows cannot be easily seen. When transplanting, preference should be given to a sunny situation in a mellow, light, fertile, rather dry soil thoroughly well prepared and as free from weeds as possible. From the start[Pg 69] the ground must be kept loose, open and clean. When the plants meet in the rows cultivation may stop.

First gatherings of foliage should begin by midsummer when the plants start to blossom. Then they may be cut to within a few inches of the ground. The stumps should develop a second and even a third crop if care is exercised to keep the surface clean and open. A little dressing of quickly available fertilizer applied at this time is helpful. For seed some of the best plants should be left uncut. The seed should ripen by mid-autumn.

For winter use plants may be transplanted from the garden, or seedlings may be started in September. The seeds should be sown two to the inch and the seedlings transplanted to pots or boxes. A handy pot is the 4-inch standard; this is large enough for one plant. In flats the plants should be 5 or 6 inches apart each way.

Uses.—Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the French cuisine. It is especially relished in mock turtle soup, which, when correctly made, derives its peculiar taste chiefly from the clovelike flavor of basil. In other highly seasoned dishes, such as stews and dressings, basil is also highly prized. It is less used in salads. A golden yellow essential oil, which reddens with age, is extracted from the leaves for uses in perfumery more than in the kitchen.

The original and famous Fetter Lane sausages, formerly popular with Cockney epicures, owed their reputation mainly to basil. During the reigns of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth farmers grew[Pg 71][Pg 70] basil in pots and presented them with compliments to their landladies when these paid their visits.

Borage, Famous for Cool Tankard
Borage, Famous for "Cool Tankard"

Borage (Borago officinalis, Linn.), a coarse, hardy, annual herb of the natural order Boraginaceæ. Its popular name, derived from the generic, is supposed by some to have come from a corruption of cor, the heart, and ago, to affect, because of its former use as a cordial or heart-fortifying medicine. Courage is from the same source. The Standard Dictionary, however, points to burrago, rough, and relates it indirectly by cross references to birrus, a thick, coarse woolen cloth worn by the poor during the thirteenth century. The roughness of the full-grown leaves suggests flannel. Whichever derivation be correct, each is interesting as implying qualities, intrinsic or attributed, to the plant.

The specific name indicates its obsolete use in medicine. It is one of the numerous plants which have shaken off the superstitions which a credulous populace wreathed around them. Almost none but the least enlightened people now attribute any medicinal virtues whatever to it.

The plant is said to come originally from Aleppo, but for centuries has been considered a native of Mediterranean Europe and Africa, whence it has become naturalized throughout the world by Europeans, who grew it probably more for medicinal than for culinary purposes. According to Ainslie, it was among the species listed by Peter Martyr as planted on Isabella Island by Columbus's companions. The probability is that it was also brought to America by the colonists during Queen Eliza[Pg 72]beth's time. It has been listed in American seedsmen's catalogues since 1806, but the demand has always been small and the extent to which it is cultivated very limited.

Description.—Borage is of somewhat spreading habit, branchy, about 20 inches tall. Its oval or oblong-lanceolate leaves and other green parts are covered with whitish, rather sharp, spreading hairs. The flowers, generally blue, sometimes pink, violet-red, or white, are loosely racemed at the extremities of the branches and main stems.

"The flaming rose glooms swarthy red;
The borage gleams more blue;
And low white flowers, with starry head,
Glimmer the rich dusk through."

George MacDonald
"Songs of the Summer Night," Part III

The seeds are rather large, oblong, slightly curved, and a ridged and streaked grayish-brown. They retain their vitality for about eight years.

Cultivation.—No plant is more easily grown. The seed need only be dropped and covered in any soil, from poor to rich, and the plants will grow like weeds, and even become such if allowed to have sway. Borage seems, however, to prefer rather light, dry soils, waste places and steep banks. Upon such the flavor of the flowers is declared to be superior to that produced upon richer ground, which develops a ranker growth of foliage.

In the garden the seeds are sown about ½ inch asunder and in rows 15 inches apart. Shortly after[Pg 73] the plants appear they are thinned to stand 3 inches apart, the thinnings being cooked like spinach, or, if small and delicate, they may be made into salads. Two other thinnings may be given for similar purposes as the plants grow, so that at the final thinning the specimens will stand about a foot asunder. Up to this time the ground is kept open and clean by cultivation; afterwards the borage will usually have possession.

Uses.—More popular than the use of the foliage as a potherb and a salad is the employment of borage blossoms and the tender upper leaves, in company or not with those of nasturtium, as a garnish or an ornament to salads, and still more as an addition to various cooling drinks. The best known of these beverages is cool tankard, composed of wine, water, lemon juice, sugar and borage flowers. To this "they seem to give additional coolness." They are often used similarly in lemonade, negus, claret-cup and fruit juice drinks.

The plant has possibly a still more important though undeveloped use as a bee forage. It is so easily grown and flowers so freely that it should be popular with apiarists, especially those who own or live near waste land, dry and stony tracts which they could sow to it. For such places it has an advantage over the many weeds which generally dispute possession in that it may be readily controlled by simple cultivation. It generally can hold its own against the plant populace of such places.

Caraway for Comfits and Birthday Cakes
Caraway for Comfits
and Birthday Cakes

Caraway (Carum carui, Linn.), a biennial or an annual herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ. Its[Pg 74] names, both popular and botanical, are supposed to be derived from Caria, in Asia Minor, where the plant is believed first to have attracted attention. From very early ages the caraway has been esteemed by cooks and doctors, between which a friendly rivalry might seem to exist, each vying to give it prominence. At the present time the cooks seem to be in the ascendancy; the seeds or their oil are rarely used in modern medicine, except to disguise the flavor of repulsive drugs.

[Pg 75]

Since caraway seeds were found by O'Heer in the debris of the lake habitations of Switzerland, the fact seems well established that the plant is a native of Europe and the probability is increased that the Careum of Pliny is this same plant, as its use by Apicus would also indicate. It is mentioned in the twelfth-century writings as grown in Morocco, and in the thirteenth by the Arabs. As a spice, its use in England seems to have begun at the close of the fourteenth century. From its Asiatic home it spread first with Phoenician commerce to western Europe, whence by later voyageurs it has been carried throughout the civilized world. So widely has it been distributed that the traveler may find it in the wilds of Iceland and Scandinavia, the slopes of sunny Spain, the steeps of the Himalayas, the veldt of southern Africa, the bush of Australia, the prairies and the pampas of America.

Caraway is largely cultivated in Morocco, and is an important article of export from Russia, Prussia, and Holland. It has developed no clearly marked varieties; some specimens, however, seem to be more distinctly annual than others, though attempts to isolate these and thus secure a quick-maturing variety seem not to have been made.

Description.—The fleshy root, about ½ inch in diameter, is yellowish externally, whitish within, and has a slight carroty taste. From it a rosette of finely pinnated leaves is developed, and later the sparsely leaved, channeled, hollow, branching flower stem which rises from 18 to 30 inches and during early summer bears umbels of little white flowers[Pg 76] followed by oblong, pointed, somewhat curved, light brown aromatic fruits—the caraway "seeds" of commerce. These retain their germinating power for about three years, require about 10,000 seeds to make an ounce and fifteen ounces to the quart.

Cultivation. - Frequently, if not usually, caraway is sown together with coriander in the same drills on heavy lands during May or early June. The coriander, being a quick-maturing plant, may be harvested before the caraway throws up a flowering stem. Thus two crops may be secured from the same land in the same time occupied by the caraway alone. Ordinary thinning to 6 or 8 inches between plants is done when the seedlings are established. Other requirements of the crop are all embraced in the practices of clean cultivation.

Harvest occurs in July of the year following the seeding. The plants are cut about 12 inches above ground with sickles, spread on sheets to dry for a few days, and later beaten with a light flail. After threshing, the seed must be spread thinly and turned daily until the last vestige of moisture has evaporated. From 400 to 800 pounds is the usual range of yield.

If seed be sown as soon as ripe, plants may be secured which mature earlier than the main crop. Thus six or eight weeks may be saved in the growing season, and by continuing such selection a quick-maturing strain may be secured with little effort. This would also obviate the trouble of keeping seed from one year to the next, for the strain would be practically a winter annual.[Pg 77]

Uses. - Occasionally the leaves and young shoots are eaten either cooked or as an ingredient in salads. The roots, too, have been esteemed in some countries, even more highly than the parsnip, which, however, largely because of its size, has supplanted it for this purpose. But the [caraway] seeds are the important part. They find popular use in bread, cheese, liquors, salads, sauces, soups, candy, and especially in seed cakes, cookies and comfits. The colorless or pale yellow essential oil distilled with water from the seeds, which contain between 5% and 7½% of it, has the characteristic flavor and odor of the fruit. It is extensively employed in the manufacture of toilet articles, such as perfumery, and especially soaps.

Catnip, or cat mint (Nepeta cataria, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order Labiatæ. The popular name is in allusion to the attraction the plant has for cats. They not only eat it, but rub themselves upon it purring with delight. The generic name is derived from the Etrurian city Neptic, in the neighborhood of which various species of the genus formerly became prominent.

Like several of its relatives catnip is a well-known weed. It has become naturalized in America, and is most frequently observed in dry, waste places, especially in the East, though it is also often found in gardens and around dwellings throughout the United States and Canada.

Description.—Its erect, square, branching stems, from 18 to 36 inches tall, bear notched oval or heartshaped leaves, whitish below, and during late sum[Pg 78]mer terminal clusters of white flowers in small heads, far apart below, but crowded close above. The fruits are small, brown, ovoid, smooth and with three clearly defined angles. An ounce contains about 3,400 seeds. Viability lasts for five years.

Catnip, Pussy's Delight
Catnip, Pussy's Delight

Cultivation. Catnip will grow with the most or[Pg 79]dinary attention on any fairly dry soil. The seed need only be sown in autumn or spring where the plants are to remain or in a nursery bed for subsequent transplanting. If to be kept in a garden bed they should stand 18 to 24 inches apart each way. Nothing is needful except to keep down weeds in order to have them succeed for several years on the same spot.

Uses.—The most important use of the plant is as a bee forage; for this purpose waste places are often planted to catnip. As a condiment the leaves were formerly in popular use, especially in the form of sauces; but milder flavors are now more highly esteemed. Still, the French use catnip to a considerable extent. Like many of its relatives, catnip was a popular medicinal remedy for many fleshly ills; now it is practically relegated to domestic medicine. Even in this it is a moribund remedy for infant flatulence, and is clung to only by unlettered nurses of a passing generation.

Chervil (Scandix Cerefolium, Linn.), a southern Europe annual, with stems about 18 inches tall and bearing few divided leaves composed of oval, much-cut leaflets. The small white flowers, borne in umbels, are followed by long, pointed, black seeds with a conspicuous furrow from end to end. These seeds, which retain their germinability about three years, but are rather difficult to keep, may be sown where the plants are to stay, at any season, about eight weeks before a crop is desired; cultivation is like that of parsley. During summer and in warm climates, cool, shady situations should be[Pg 80] chosen, otherwise any situation and soil are suitable. The [chervil] leaves, which are highly aromatic, are used, especially in France and England, for seasoning and for mixed salads. Chervil is rarely used alone, but is the chief ingredient in what the French call fines herbes, a mixture which finds its way into a host of culinary concoctions. The best variety is the Curled, which, though it has the same flavor as the plain, is a prettier garnish.

Chives (Allium Schúnoprasum, Linn.), a bulbous, onion-like perennial belonging to the Liliaceæ. Naturally the plants form thick tufts of abundant, hollow, grasslike leaves from their little oval bulbs and mat of fibrous roots. The short flower stems bear terminal clusters of generally sterile flowers. Hence the plants are propagated by planting the individual bulbs or by division of clumps in early spring. Frequently chives are planted in flower borders as an edging, for which purpose the compact growth and dainty flowers particularly recommend them. They should not be allowed to grow in the same place more than three years.

Strictly speaking, chives do not belong with the herbs, but their leaves are so frequently used instead of onions for flavoring salads, stews and other dishes, and reference has been so often made to them in these pages, that a brief description has been included. For market the clumps are cut in squares and the whole plant sold. Treated in this way the greengrocers can keep them in good condition by watering until sold. For use the leaves are cut with shears close to the ground. If allowed to[Pg 81] stand in the garden, cuttings may be made at intervals of two or three weeks all through the season.

Clary (Salvia sclarea, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order Labiatæ. The popular name is a corruption of the specific. In the discussion on sage will be found the significance of the generic name. Syria is said to be the original home of clary, but Italy is also mentioned. The presumption is in favor of the former country, as it is the older, and the plant was probably carried westward from it by soldiers or merchants. In England clary was known prior to 1538, when Turner published his garden lore, but in America, except in foreigners' gardens, it is rarely seen. It has been listed in seedsmen's catalogs since 1806.

Description.—The large, very broad, oblong, obtuse, toothed, woolly haired, radical leaves are grayish green and somewhat rumpled like those of Savoy cabbage. From among them rise the 2-foot tall, square, branching, sparsely leaved stems, which during the second year bear small clusters of lilac or white showy flowers in long spikes. The smooth brown or marbled shining seeds retain their germinating power for three years.

Cultivation.—The plants thrive in any well-drained soil. Seed may be sown during March in drills 18 inches apart where the plants are to remain or in a seedbed for transplanting 18 inches asunder in May. Clean cultivation is needed throughout the summer until the plants have full possession of the ground. In August the leaves may be gathered, and if this harvest be judiciously done the produc[Pg 82]tion of foliage should continue until midsummer of the second year, when the plants will probably insist upon flowering. After this it is best to rely upon new plants for supplies of leaves, the old plants being pulled.

Uses.—In America, the leaves are little used in cookery, and even in Europe they seem to be less popular than formerly, sage having taken their place. Wine is sometimes made from the plant when in flower. As an ornamental, clary is worth a place in the hardy flower border.

Coriander, for Old-Fashioned Candies
Coriander, for
Old-Fashioned Candies

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum, Linn.), "a plant of little beauty and of easiest culture," is a hardy annual herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ. The popular name is derived from the generic, which comes from the ancient Greek Koris, a kind of bug, in allusion to the disagreeable odor of the foliage and other green parts. The specific name refers to its cultivation in gardens. Hence the scientific name declares it to be the cultivated buggy-smelling plant.

Coriander has been cultivated from such ancient times that its land of nativity is unknown, though it is said to be a native of southern Europe and of[Pg 83] China. It has been used in cookery and of course, too, in medicine; for, according to ancient reasoning, anything with so pronounced and unpleasant an odor must necessarily possess powerful curative or preventive attributes! Its seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs of the 21st dynasty. Many centuries later Pliny wrote that the best quality of seed still came to Italy from Egypt. Prior to the Norman conquest in 1066, the plant was well known in Great Britain, probably having been taken there by the early Roman conquerors. Before 1670 it was introduced into Massachusetts. During this long period of cultivation there seems to be no record or even indication of varieties. In many temperate and tropical countries it has become a frequent weed in cultivated fields.

Description.—From a cluster of slightly divided radical leaves branching stems rise to heights of 2 to 2½ feet. Toward their summits they bear much divided leaves, with linear segments and umbels of small whitish flowers, followed by pairs of united, hemispherical, brownish-yellow, deeply furrowed "seeds," about the size of a sweet pea seed. These retain their vitality for five or six years. The seeds do not have the unpleasant odor of the plant, but have a rather agreeable smell and a moderately warm, pungent taste.

Cultivation. - Coriander, a plant of the easiest culture, does best in a rather light, warm, friable soil. In Europe it is often sown with caraway, which, being a biennial and producing only a rosette of leaves at the surface of the ground the first year, is[Pg 84] not injured when the annual coriander is cut. The seed is often sown in the autumn, though spring sowing is perhaps in more favor. The rows are made about 15 inches apart, the seeds dropped 1 inch asunder and ½ inch deep and the plantlets thinned to 6 or 8 inches. Since the plants run to seed quickly, they must be watched and cut early to prevent loss and consequent seeding of the ground. After curing in the shade the seed is threshed as already described (see page 28). On favorable land the yield may reach or even exceed 1,500 pounds to the acre.

Uses. - Some writers say the young leaves of the plant are used in salads and for seasoning soups, dressings, etc. If this is so, I can only remark that there is no accounting for tastes. I am inclined to think, however, that these writers are drawing upon their imagination or have been "stuffed" by people who take pleasure in supplying misinformation. The odor is such as to suggest the flavor of "buggy" raspberries we sometimes gather in the fence rows. Any person who relishes buggy berries may perhaps enjoy coriander salad or soup.

Only the [coriander] seed is of commercial importance. It is used largely in making comfits and other kinds of confectionery, for adding to bread, and, especially in the East, as an ingredient in curry powder and other condiments. In medicine its chief use now is to disguise the taste of disagreeable drugs. Distillers use it for flavoring various kinds of liquors.

Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum, Linn.), a low-grow[Pg 85]ing annual herb of the Nile valley, but cultivated in the Mediterranean region, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, India, China, and Palestine from very early times, (See Isaiah xviii, 25-27 and Matthew xxiii, 23.) Pliny is said to have considered it the best appetizer of all condiments. During the middle ages it was in very common use. All the old herbals of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries figure and describe and extol it. In Europe it is extensively cultivated in Malta and Sicily, and will mature seed as far north as Norway; in America, today, the seed is cataloged by some seedsmen, but very little is grown.

Description.—The plant is very diminutive, rarely exceeding a height of 6 inches. Its stems, which branch freely from the base, bear mere linear leaves and small lilac flowers, in little umbels of 10 to 20 blossoms each. The six-ribbed, elongated "seeds" in appearance resemble caraway seeds, but are straighter, lighter and larger, and in formation are like the double seeds of coriander, convex on one side and concave on the other. They bear long hairs, which fold up when the seed is dry.

After the seed has been kept for two years it begins to lose its germinating power, but will sprout reasonably well when three years old. It is characterized by a peculiar, strong aromatic odor, and a hot taste.

Culture.—As soon as the ground has become warm the seed is sown in drills about 15 inches apart where the plants are to remain. Except for keeping down the weeds no further attention is[Pg 87][Pg 86] necessary. The plants mature in about two months, when the stems are cut and dried in the shade. (See page 28.) The seeds are used in India as an ingredient in curry powder, in France for flavoring pickles, pastry and soups.

Dill, of Pickle Fame
Dill, of Pickle Fame

Dill (Anethum graveolens, Linn.), a hardy annual, native of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, smaller than common fennel, which it somewhat resembles both in appearance and in the flavor of the green parts, which are, however, less agreeable.

In ancient times it was grown in Palestine. The word translated, "anise" in Matthew xxiii, 23, is said to have been "dill" in the original Greek. It was well known in Pliny's time, and is often discussed by writers in the middle ages. According to American writings, it has been grown in this country for more than 100 years and has become spontaneous in many places.

Description.—Ordinarily the plants grow 2 to 2½ feet tall. The glaucous, smooth, hollow, branching stems bear very threadlike leaves and in midsummer compound umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose small petals are rolled inward. Very flat, pungent, bitter seeds are freely produced, and unless gathered early are sure to stock the garden with volunteer seedlings for the following year. Under fair storage conditions, the seeds continue viable for three years. They are rather light; a quart of them weighs about 11 ounces, and an ounce is said to contain over 25,000 seeds.[Pg 88]

Cultivation.—Where dill has not already been grown seed may be sown in early spring, preferably in a warm sandy soil, where the plants are to remain. Any well-drained soil will do. The drills should be 1 foot apart, the seeds scattered thinly and covered very shallow; a bed 12 feet square should supply abundance of seed for any ordinary family. To sow this area ¼ to ½ ounce of seed is ample. For field use the rows may be 15 inches apart and the seed sown more thinly. It should not be covered much more than ¼ inch. Some growers favor fall sowing, because they claim the seed is more likely to germinate than in the spring, and also to produce better plants than spring-sown seed.

At all times the plants must be kept free from weeds and the soil loose and open. When three or four weeks old the seedlings are thinned to 9 inches, or even a foot apart. As soon as the seed is ripe, shortly after midsummer, it must be gathered with the least possible shaking and handling, so as to prevent loss. It is well to place the stems as cut directly in a tight-bottomed cart or a wheelbarrow, with a canvas receptacle for the purpose, and to haul direct to the shade where drying is to occur. A good place for this is a barn, upon the floor of which a large canvas sheet is spread, and where a free circulation of air can be secured. (See page 28.)

Uses.—The French use dill for flavoring preserves, cakes and pastry. For these purposes it is of too strong and pronounced a character to be relished by American palates. The seeds perhaps more often[Pg 89] appear in soups, sauces and stews, but even here they are relished more by our European residents than by native Americans. Probably they are most used in pickles, especially in preserving cucumbers according to German recipes. Thousands of barrels of such pickles are sold annually, more especially in the larger cities and to the poorer people; but as this pickle is procurable at all delicatessen stores, it has gained great popularity among even the well-to-do. An oil is distilled from the seeds and used in perfuming soap. The young leaves are said to be used in pickles, soups and sauces, and even in salads. For the last purpose they are rather strong to suit most people, and for the others the seeds are far more popular.

Dill vinegar is a popular household condiment. It is made by soaking the seed in good vinegar for a few days before using. The quantity of ingredients to use is immaterial. Only a certain amount of the flavor can be dissolved by the vinegar, and as few samples of vinegar are alike, the quantities both to mix and of the decoction to use must be left to the housewife. This may be said, however, that after one lot of seed has been treated the vinegar may be poured off and the seeds steeped a second time to get a weaker infusion. The two infusions may then be mixed and kept in a dark cupboard for use as needed.

Fennel (Fœniculum officinale, All.), a biennial or perennial herb, generally considered a native of southern Europe, though common on all Mediterranean shores. The old Latin name Fœniculum is[Pg 90] derived from fœnum or hay. It has spread with civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world, upon dry soils near the sea coast and upon river banks.

Sweet Fennel
Sweet Fennel

It seems to be partial to limestone soils, such as the chalky lands of England and the shelly formation of Bermuda. In this latter community I have seen it thriving upon cliffs where there seemed to be only a pinch of soil, and where the rock was so dry and porous that it would crumble to coarse dust when crushed in the hand. The plant was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots. Whether cultivated in northern Europe at that time is not certain, but it is frequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon cookery prior to the Norman conquest. Charlemagne ordered its culture upon the imperial farms. At present it is most popular in Italy, and France. In America it is in most demand among French and[Pg 91] Italians. Like many other plants, fennel has had a highly interesting career from a medical point of view. But it no longer plays even a "small part" in the drama. Hints as to its history may be found on page 54.

Description.—Common garden or long, sweet fennel is distinguished from its wild or better relative (F. vulgare) by having much stouter, taller (5 to 6 feet) tubular and larger stems, less divided, more glaucous leaves. But a still more striking difference is seen in the leaf stalks which form a curved sheath around the stem even as far up as the base of the leaf above. Then, too, the green flowers are borne on more sturdy pedicels in the broader umbels, lastly the seeds are double the size of the wild fennel seeds, ¼ or ½ inch long. They are convex on one side, flat on the other, and are marked by five yellowish ribs. Though a French writer says the seed degenerates "promptly," and recommends the use of fresh seed annually, it will not be wise to throw away any where it is not wanted to germinate, unless it is over four years old, as seed as old even as that is said to be satisfactory for planting.

Cultivation.—In usual garden practice fennel is propagated by seeds, and is grown as an annual instead of as a biennial or a perennial. The plants will flourish in almost any well-drained soil, but seem to prefer light loams of a limy nature. It is not particular as to exposure. The seed may be sown in nursery beds or where the plants are to remain. In the beds, the drills may be 6 inches[Pg 92] apart, and not more than 1-3 inch deep, or the seed may be scattered broadcast. An ounce will be enough for a bed 10 feet square. When the plants are about 3 inches tall they should be transplanted 15 or 18 inches asunder in rows 2 to 2½ feet apart. Some growers sow in late summer and in autumn so as to have early crops the following season; they also make several successional sowings at intervals of one or two weeks, in order to supply the demands of their customers for fresh fennel stalks from midsummer to December or even later. The plants will grow more or less in very cold, that is, not actually freezing weather.

If sown in place, the rows should be the suggested 2 to 2½ feet apart, and the plants thinned several times until the required distance is reached. Thinnings may be used for culinary purposes. For family use half an ounce of seed, if fairly fresh, will produce an ample supply of plants, and for several years, either from the established roots or by reseeding. Unless seed is needed for household or sowing purposes, the flower stems should be cut as soon as they appear.

Uses.—Fennel is considered indispensable in French and Italian cookery. The young plants and the tender leaves are often used for garnishes and to add flavor to salads. They are also minced and added to sauces usually served with puddings. The tender stems and the leaves are employed in soups and fish sauces, though more frequently they are eaten raw as a salad with or without dressing. The famous "Carosella" of Naples consists of the stems[Pg 93] cut when the plant is about to bloom. These stems are considered a great delicacy served raw with the leaf stalks still around them. Oil, vinegar and pepper are eaten with them. By sowing at intervals of a week or 10 days Italian gardeners manage to have a supply almost all the year.

The seeds are used in cookery, confectionery and for flavoring liquors. Oil of fennel, a pale yellow liquid, with a sweetish aromatic odor and flavor, is distilled with water. It is used in perfumery and for scenting soaps. A pound of oil is the usual yield of 500 pounds of the plant.

Finocchio, or Florence fennel (F. dulce, D. C.), deserves special mention here. It appears to be a native of Italy, a distinct dwarf annual, very thick-set herb. The stem joints are so close together and their bases so swelled as to suggest malformation. Even when full grown and producing seed, the plant rarely exceeds 2 feet. The large, finely cut, light green leaves are borne on very broad, pale green or almost whitish stalks, which overlap at their bases, somewhat like celery, but much more swelled at edible maturity, to form a sort of head or irregular ball, the "apple," as it is called, sometimes as large as a man's fist. The seeds are a peculiar oblong, much broader than long, convex on one side and flat on the other, with five conspicuous ribs.

Cultivation is much the same as for common fennel, though owing to the dwarf nature of the plant the rows and the plants may be closer together. The seedlings should be 5 or 6 inches asunder. They are very thirsty things and require water frequently.[Pg 94] When the "apple" attains the size of an egg, earth may be drawn up slightly to the base, which may be about half covered; cutting may begin about 10 days later. Florence fennel is generally boiled and served with either a butter or a cream dressing. It suggests celery in flavor, but is sweeter and is even more pleasingly fragrant. In Italy it is one of the commonest and most popular of vegetables. In other European countries it is also well known, but in America its cultivation is almost confined to Italian gardens or to such as supply Italian demands in the large cities. In New York it is commonly sold by greengrocers and pushcart men in the Italian sections.

Fennel Flower (Nigella sativa, Linn.), an Asiatic annual, belonging to the Ranunculaceæ, grown to a limited extent in southern Europe, but scarcely known in America. Among the Romans it was esteemed in cookery, hence one of its common names, Roman coriander. The plant has a rather stiff, erect, branching stem, bears deeply cut grayish-green leaves and terminal grayish-blue flowers, which precede odd, toothed, seed vessels filled with small, triangular, black, highly aromatic seeds. For garden use the seed is sown in spring after the ground gets warm. The drills may be 15 to 18 inches apart and the plants thinned to 10 or 12 inches asunder. No special attention is necessary until midsummer, when the seed ripens. These are easily threshed and cleaned. After drying they should be stored in sacks in a cool, dry place. They are used just as they are or like dill in cookery.[Pg 95]

Hoarhound, or horehound (Marrubium vulgare, Linn.), a perennial plant of the natural order Labiatæ, formerly widely esteemed in cookery and medicine, but now almost out of use except for making candy which some people still eat in the belief that it relieves tickling in the throat due to coughing. In many parts of the world hoarhound has become naturalized on dry, poor soils, and is even a troublesome weed in such situations. Bees are very partial to hoarhound nectar, and make a pleasing honey from the flowers where these are abundant. This honey has been almost as popular as hoarhound candy, and formerly was obtainable at druggists. Except in isolated sections, it has ceased to be sold in the drug stores. The generic name Marrubium is derived from a Hebrew word meaning bitter. The flavor is so strong and lasting that the modern palate wonders how the ancient mouth could stand such a thing in cookery.

The numerous branching, erect stems and the almost square, toothed, grayish-green leaves are covered with a down from which the common name hoarhound is derived. The white flowers, borne in axillary clusters forming whorls and spikes, are followed by small, brown, oblong seeds pointed at one end. These may be sown up to the third year after ripening with the expectation that they will grow. Spring is the usual time for sowing. A dry, poor soil, preferably exposed to the south, should be chosen. The plants may stand 12 to 15 inches apart. After once becoming established no further attention need be given except to prevent seed form[Pg 96]ing, thus giving the plant less chance to become a nuisance. Often the clumps may be divided or layers or cuttings may be used for propagation. No protection need be given, as the plants are hardy.

An old author gives the following recipe for hoarhound candy: To one pint of a strong decoction of the leaves and stems or the roots add 8 or 10 pounds of sugar. Boil to candy height and pour into molds or small paper cases previously well dusted with finely powdered lump sugar, or pour on dusted marble slabs and cut in squares.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis, Linn.), a perennial evergreen undershrub of the Labiatæ, native of the Mediterranean region. Though well known in ancient times, this plant is probably not the one known as hyssop in Biblical writings. According to the Standard Dictionary the Biblical "hyssop" is "an unidentified plant ... thought by some to have been a species of marjoram (Origanum maru); by others, the caper-bush (Capparis spinosa); and by the author of the 'History of Bible Plants,' to have been the name of any common article in the form of a brush or a broom." In ancient and medieval times hyssop was grown for its fancied medicinal qualities, for ornament and for cookery. Except for ornament, it is now very little cultivated. Occasionally it is found growing wild in other than Mediterranean countries.

Description.—The smooth, simple stems, which grow about 2 feet tall, bear lanceolate-linear, entire leaves and small clusters of usually blue, though sometimes pink or white flowers, crowded in terminal spikes. The small, brown, glistening three-angled seeds, which have[Pg 97] a little white hilum near their apices, retain their viability three years. Leaves, stems and flowers possess a highly aromatic odor and a hot, bitter flavor.

Cultivation.—Hyssop succeeds best in rather warm, limy soil. It may be readily propagated by division, cuttings, and seed. In cold climates the last way is the most common. Seed is sown in early spring, either in a cold frame or in the open ground, and the seedlings transplanted in early summer. Even where the plants survive the winters, it is advisable to renew them every three or four years. When grown in too rich soil, the growth will be very lush and will lack aroma. Plants should stand not closer than 6 inches in the rows, which should be at least 18 inches apart. They do best in partial shade.

Uses.—Hyssop has almost entirely disappeared from culinary practice because it is too strong-flavored. Its tender leaves and shoots are, however, occasionally added to salads, to supply a bitter taste. The colorless oil distilled from the leaves has a peculiar odor and an acrid, camphorescent taste. Upon contact with the air it turns yellow and changes to a resin. From 400 to 500 pounds of the fresh plant yield a pound of oil. The oil is used to some extent in the preparation of toilet articles.

Lavender, (Lavendula vera, D. C.; L. Angustifolia, Moench.; L. spica, Linn.), a half-hardy perennial undershrub, native of dry, calcareous uplands in southern Europe. Its name is derived from the Latin word Lavo, to wash, a distillation of the flowers being anciently used in perfuming water for washing the body. The plant forms a compact clump 2 to 2½ feet[Pg 98] tall, has numerous erect stems, bearing small, linear gray leaves, above which the slender, square, flower stems arise. The small violet-blue flowers are arranged in a short, terminal spike, and are followed by little brown, oblong, shiny seeds, with white dots at the ends, attached to the plant. The seeds remain viable for about five years.

Cultivation. - Lavender succeeds best on light, limy or chalky soil, but will do well in any good loam. In gardens it is usually employed as an edging for flower beds, and is most frequently propagated by division or cuttings, seed being used only to get a start where plants cannot be secured in the other ways mentioned. In cold climates the plants must either be protected or removed to a greenhouse, or at least a cold frame, which can be covered in severe weather. The seed is sown indoors during March, and if crowding, pricked out 2 inches asunder. When the ground has become warm, the plants are set in the open 15 to 20 inches asunder. It delights in a sunny situation, and is most fragrant on poor soil. Rich soil makes the plant larger but the flowers poorer in perfume.

Uses.—The plant is sometimes grown for a condiment and an addition to salads, dressings, etc., but its chief use is in perfumery, the flowers being gathered and either dried for use in sachet bags or distilled for their content of oil. In former years no girl was supposed to be ready for marriage until, with her own hands, she had made her own linen and stored it with lavender. And in some sections[Pg 99] the lavender is still used, though the linen is nowadays purchased.

In southern France and in England considerable areas are devoted to lavender for the perfumery business. The flower stems are cut in August, covered at once with bast matting to protect them from the sun and taken to the stills to obtain the thin, pale yellow, fragrant oil. Four-year-old plants yield the greatest amount of oil, but the product is greater from a two-year plantation than from an older one, the plants then being most vigorous. Two grades of oil are made, the best being used for lavender water, the poorer for soap making. In a good season about one pound of oil is obtained from 150 to 200 pounds of the cut plants.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale, Koch.), a perennial, native of the Mediterranean region. The large, dark-green, shining radical leaves are usually divided into two or three segments. Toward the top the thick, hollow, erect stems divide to form opposite, whorled branches which bear umbels of yellow flowers, followed by highly aromatic, hollowed fruits ("seeds") with three prominent ribs. Propagation is by division or by seeds not over three years old. In late summer when the seed ripens, it is sown and the seedlings transplanted either in the fall or as early in spring as possible to their permanent places. Rich, moist soil is needed. Root division is performed in early spring. With cultivation and alternation like that given to Angelica, the plants should last for several years.[Pg 100]

Formerly lovage was used for a great variety of purposes, but nowadays it is restricted almost wholly to confectionery, the young stems being handled like those of Angelica. So far as I have been able to learn, the leaf stalks and stem bases, which were formerly blanched like celery, are no longer used in this way.

Marigold (Calendula officinalis, Linn.), an annual herb of the natural order Compositæ, native of southern Europe. Its Latin name, suggestive of its flowering habit, signifies blooming through the months. Our word calendar is of the same derivation. Its short stems, about 12 inches tall, branch near their bases, bear lanceolate, oblong, unpleasantly scented leaves, and showy yellow or orange flowers in heads. The curved, gray seeds, which are rough, wrinkled and somewhat spiny, retain their germinating power for about three years.

Cultivation.—For the garden the seed is usually started in a hotbed during March or April and the plants pricked out in flats 2 inches apart and hardened off in the usual way. When the weather becomes settled they are set a foot or 15 inches apart in rather poor soil, preferably light and sandy, with sunny exposure. Often the seed is sown in the open and the seedlings thinned and transplanted when about 2 inches tall.

Uses.—The flower heads are sometimes dried and used in broths, soups, stews, etc., but the flavor is too pronounced for American palates. One gardener remarked that "only a few plants are needed by a family." I think that two would produce about[Pg 101] twice as much as I would care to use in a century. For culinary use the flowers are gathered when in full bloom, dried in the shade and stored in glass jars. The fresh flowers have often been used to color butter.

The marigold, "homely forgotten flower, under the rose's bower, plain as a weed," to quote Bayard Taylor, is a general favorite flowering plant, especially in country gardens. It is so easily grown, is so free a bloomer, and under ordinary management continues from early summer until even hard frosts arrive, that busy farmers wives and daughters love it. Then, too, it is one of the old-fashioned flowers, about which so many happy thoughts cling. What more beautiful and suggestive lines could one wish than these:

"The marigold, whose courtier's face
Echoes the sun, and doth unlace
Her at his rise, at his full stop
Packs up and shuts her gaudy shop."

John Cleveland
"On Phillis Walking before Sunrise"

"Youth! Youth! how buoyant are thy hopes! They turn
Like marigolds toward the sunny side,"

Jean Ingelow
"The Four Bridges"

Sweet Marjoram
Sweet Marjoram

Marjoram.—Two species of marjoram now grown for culinary purposes (several others were formerly popular) are members of the Labiatæ or mint family—pot or perennial marjoram (Origanum vulgare, Linn.) and sweet or annual (O. Marjorana). Really, both plants are perennials, but sweet marjoram,[Pg 102] because of its liability to be killed by frost, is so commonly cultivated in cold countries as an annual that it has acquired this name, which readily distinguishes it from its hardy relative. Perennial marjoram is a native of Europe, but has become naturalized in many cool and even cold temperate climates. It is often found wild in the Atlantic states in the borders of woods.

The general name origanum, meaning delight of the mountain, is derived from two Greek words, oros, mountain; and ganos, joy, some of the species being found commonly upon mountain sides. Under cultivation it has developed a few varieties the most popular of which are a variegated form used for ornamental purposes, and a dwarf variety noted for its ability to come true to seed. Both varieties are used in cookery. The perennial species seems to have had the longer association with civilization; at least it is the one identified in the writings of Pliny, Albertus Magnus and the English herbalists of the middle ages. Annual marjoram is thought to be the species considered sacred in India to Vishnu and Siva.[Pg 103]

Description.—Perennial marjoram rises even 2 feet high, in branchy clumps, bears numerous short-stemmed, ovate leaves about 1 inch long, and terminal clusters or short spikes of little, pale lilac or pink blossoms and purple bracts. The oval, brown seeds are very minute. They are, however, heavy for their size, since a quart of them weighs about 24 ounces. I am told that an ounce contains more than 340,000, and would rather believe than be forced to prove it.

Annual marjoram is much more erect, more bush-like, has smaller, narrower leaves, whiter flowers, green bracts and larger, but lighter seeds—only 113,000 to the ounce and only 20 ounces to the quart!

Cultivation.—Perennial marjoram when once established may be readily propagated by cuttings, division or layers, but it is so easy to grow from seed that this method is usually employed. There is little danger of its becoming a weed, because the seedlings are easily destroyed while small. The seed should be sown during March or April in flats or beds that can be protected from rain. It is merely dusted on the surface, the soil being pressed down slightly with a board or a brick. Until the seedlings appear, the bed should be shaded to check evaporation. When the plants are 2 or 3 inches tall they may be transplanted to the places where they are to remain, as they are not so easy to transplant as lettuce and geraniums. The work should be done while the plants are very small, and larger numbers should be set than will ultimately be allowed to grow. I have[Pg 104] had no difficulty in transplanting, but some people who have had prefer to sow the seed where the plants are to stand.

If to be used for edging, the dwarf plants may be set 3 or 6 inches apart; the larger kinds require a foot or 15 inches in which to develop. In field cultivation the greater distance is the more desirable. From the very start the plants must be kept free from weeds and the soil loose and open. Handwork is essential until they become established. The plants will last for years.

Annual marjoram is managed in the same kind of way as to seeding and cultivation; but as the plant is tender, fresh sowings must be made annually. To be sure, plants may be taken up in the fall and used for making cuttings or layers towards spring for the following seasons beds. As annual marjoram is somewhat smaller than the perennial kind (except the dwarf perennial variety), the distances may be somewhat less, say 9 or 10 inches. Annual marjoram is a quick-growing plant—so quick, in fact, that leaves may be secured within six or eight weeks of sowing. The flowers appear in 10 to 12 weeks, and the seed ripens soon after.

When it is desired to cure the leaves for winter use, the stems should be cut just as the flowers begin to appear, and dried in the usual manner. (See page 25.) If seed is wanted, they should be cut soon after the flowers fall or even before all have fallen—when the scales around the seeds begin to look as if drying. The cut stems must be dried on sheets of very fine weave, to prevent loss[Pg 105] of seed. When the leaves are thoroughly dry they must be thrashed and rubbed before being placed in sieves, first of coarse, and then of finer mesh.

Uses.—The leaves and the flower and tender stem tips of both species have a pleasant odor, and are used for seasoning soups, stews, dressings and sauces. They are specially favored in France and Italy, but are popular also in England and America. In France marjoram is cultivated commercially for its oil, a thin, light yellow or greenish liquid, with the concentrated odor of marjoram and peppermint. It has a warm, and slightly bitter taste. About 200 pounds of stems and leaves are needed to get a pound of oil. Some distillation is done in England, where 70 pounds of the plant yield about one ounce of oil. This oil is used for perfuming toilet articles, especially soap, but is perhaps less popular than the essential oil of thyme.

Mint (Mentha viridis, Linn.)—Spearmint, a member of the Labiatæ, is a very hardy perennial, native to Mediterranean countries. Its generic name is derived from the mythological origin ascribed to it. Poets declared that Proserpine became jealous of Cocytus's daughter, Minthe, whom she transformed into the plant. The specific name means green, hence the common name, green mint, often applied to it. The old Jewish law did not require that tithes of "mint, anise and cumin" should be paid in to the treasury, but the Pharisees paid them while omitting the weightier matters, justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew xxiii, 23). From this and many other references in old writings it is evident that mint has been[Pg 106] highly esteemed for many centuries. In the seventeenth century John Gerarde wrote concerning it that "the smelle rejoyceth the heart of man." Indeed, it has been so universally esteemed that it is found wild in nearly all countries to which civilization has extended. It has been known as an escape from American gardens for about 200 years, and is sometimes troublesome as a weed in moist soil.

Mint, Best Friend of Roast Lamb
Mint, Best Friend
of Roast Lamb

Description.—From creeping rootstocks erect square stems rise to a height of about 2 feet, and near their[Pg 107] summits bear spreading branches with very short-stemmed, acute-pointed, lance-shaped, wrinkled leaves with toothed edges, and cylindrical spikes of small pink or lilac flowers, followed by very few, roundish, minute, brown seeds.

Cultivation.—The plant may be easily propagated by means of cuttings, offsets and division in spring. They may be expected to yield somewhat of a crop the first season, but much more the second. In field culture they will continue profitable for several years, provided that each autumn the tops are cut off near the ground and a liberal dressing of manure, compost or even rich soil is given. In ordinary garden practice it is well also to observe this plan, but usually mint is there allowed to shift for itself, along with the horseradish and the Jerusalem artichoke when such plants are grown. So treated, it is likely to give trouble, because, having utilized the food in one spot, its stems seek to migrate to better quarters. Hence, if the idea is to neglect the plants, a corner of the garden should be chosen where there is no danger of their becoming a nuisance. It is best to avoid all such trouble by renewing or changing the beds every 5 or 6 years.

Mint will grow anywhere but does best in a moist, rich loam and partial shade. If in a sheltered spot, it will start earlier in the spring than if exposed. Upon an extensive scale the drills should be 2 inches deep and 12 to 15 inches apart. Bits of the rootstocks are dropped at intervals of 6 to 12 inches in the rows and covered with a wheel hoe. For a new[Pg 108] plantation the rootstocks should be secured when the stems have grown 2 or 3 inches tall.

For forcing, the clumps are lifted in solid masses, with the soil attached, and placed in hotbeds or forcing house benches. Three or four inches of moist soil is worked in among and over them and watered freely as soon as growth starts. Cuttings may be made in two or three weeks. Often mint is so grown in lettuce and violet houses both upon and under the benches. During winter and spring there is enough of a demand for the young tender stems and leaves to make the plants pay. It is said that the returns from an ordinary 3 x 6-foot hotbed sash should be $10 to $15 for the winter. For drying, the stems should be cut on a dry day when the plants are approaching full bloom and after the dew has disappeared in the morning. They should be spread out very thinly in the shade or in an airy shed. (See page 25.) If cut during damp weather, there is danger of the leaves turning black.

Uses.—In both the green and the dried state mint is widely used in Europe for flavoring soups, stews and sauces for meats of unpronounced character. Among the Germans pulverized mint is commonly upon the table in cruets for dusting upon gravies and soups, especially pea and bean purees.

In England and America the most universal use of mint is for making mint sauce, the sauce par excellence with roast spring lamb. Nothing can be simpler than to mince the tender tops and leaves very, very finely, add to vinegar and sweeten to taste. Many people fancy they don't like roast lamb. The[Pg 109] chances are that they have never eaten it with wellmade mint sauce. In recent years mint jelly has been taking the place of the sauce, and perhaps justly, because it can not only be kept indefinitely without deterioration, but because it looks and is more tempting. It may be made by steeping mint leaves in apple jelly or in one of the various kinds of commercial gelatins so popular for making cold fruit puddings. The jelly should be a delicate shade of green. Of course, before pouring into the jelly glasses, the liquid is strained through a jelly bag to remove all particles of mint. A handful of leaves should color and flavor four to six glasses full.

Parsley (Carum Petroselinum, Linn.), a hardy biennial herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ, native to Mediterranean shores, and cultivated for at least 2,000 years. The specific name is derived from the habitat of the plant, which naturally grows among rocks, the Greek word for which is petros. Many of the ancient writings contain references to it, and some give directions for its cultivation. The writings of the old herbalists of the 15th century show that in their times it had already developed several well-defined forms and numerous varieties, always a sure sign that a plant is popular. Throughout the world today it is unquestionably the most widely grown of all garden herbs, and has the largest number of varieties. In moist, moderately cool climates, it may be found wild as a weed, but nowhere has it become a pest.

"Ah! the green parsley, the thriving tufts of dill;
These again shall rise, shall live the coming year."

[Pg 110]

Curled Parsley
Curled Parsley

Description.—Like most biennials, parsley develops only a rosette of leaves during the first year. These leaves are dark green, long stalked and divided two or three times into ovate, wedge-shaped segments, and each division either entire, as in parsnip, or more or less finely cut or "curled." During the second season the erect, branched, channeled flower stems rise 2 feet or more high, and at their extremities bear umbels of little greenish flowers. The fruits or "seeds" are light brown or gray, convex on one side and flat on the other two, the convex[Pg 111] side marked with fine ribs. They retain their germinating power for three years. An interesting fact, observed by Palladius in 210 A. D., is that old seed germinates more freely than freshly gathered seed.

Cultivation.—Parsley is so easily grown that no garden, and indeed no household, need be without it. After once passing the infant stage no difficulty need be experienced. It will thrive in any ordinary soil and will do well in a window box with only a moderate amount of light, and that not even direct sunshine. Gardeners often grow it beneath benches in greenhouses, where it gets only small amounts of light. No one need hesitate to plant it.

The seed is very slow in germinating, often requiring four to six weeks unless soaked before sowing. A full day's soaking in tepid water is none too long to wake up the germs. The drills may be made in a cold frame during March or in the open ground during April.

It is essential that parsley be sown very early in order to germinate at all. If sown late, it may possibly not get enough moisture to sprout, and if so it will fail completely. When sown in cold frames or beds for transplanting, the rows may be only 3 or 4 inches apart, though it is perhaps better, when such distances are chosen, to sow each alternate row to forcing radishes, which will have been marketed by the time the parsley seedlings appear. In the open ground the drills should be 12 to 15 inches apart, and the seed planted somewhat deeper and farther apart than in the presumably better-[Pg 112]prepared seedbed or cold frame. One inch between seeds is none too little.

In field culture and at the distances mentioned six or seven pounds of seed will be needed for the acre. For cultivation on a smaller scale an ounce may be found sufficient for 50 to 100 feet of drill. This quantity should be enough for any ordinary-sized family. In all open ground culture the radish is the parsley's best friend, because it not only marks the rows, and thus helps early cultivation, but the radishes break, loosen and shade the soil and thus aid the parsley plants.

When the first thinning is done during May, the parsley plants may be allowed to stand 2 inches asunder. When they begin to crowd at this distance each second plant may be removed and sold. Four to six little plants make a bunch. The roots are left on. This thinning will not only aid the remaining plants, but should bring enough revenue to pay the cost, perhaps even a little more. The first cutting of leaves from plants of field-sown seed should be ready by midsummer, but as noted below it is usually best to practice the method that will hasten maturity and thus catch the best price. A "bunch" is about the amount that can be grasped between the thumb and the first finger, 10 to 15 stalks.

It is usual to divide the field into three parts so as to have a succession of cuttings. About three weeks are required for a new crop of leaves to grow and mature after the plants have been cut. Larger yields can be secured by cutting only the fully ma[Pg 113]tured leaves, allowing the others to remain and develop for later cuttings. Three or four times as much can be gathered from a given area in this way. All plain leaves of such plants injure the appearance and reduce the price of the bunches when offered for sale.

If protected from frost, the plants will yield all winter. They may be easily transplanted in cold frames. These should be placed in some warm, sheltered spot and the plants set in them 4 by 6 inches. Mats or shutters will be needed in only the coldest weather. Half a dozen to a dozen stalks make the usual bunch and retail for 2 or 3 cents.

In the home garden, parsley may be sown as an edging for flower beds and borders. For such purpose it is best to sow the seed thickly during late October or November in double rows close together, say 3 or 4 inches. Sown at that time, the plants may be expected to appear earlier than if spring sown and to form a ribbon of verdure which will remain green not only all the growing season, but well into winter if desired. It is best, however, to dig them up in the fall and resow for the year succeeding.

For window culture, all that is needed is a box filled with rich soil. The roots may be dug in the fall and planted in the box. A sunny window is best, but any window will do. If space is at a premium, a nail keg may be made to yield a large amount of leaves. Not only may the tops be filled with plants, but the sides also. Holes should be bored in the staves about 4 inches apart. (See[Pg 114] illustration, page 2.) A layer of earth is placed in the bottom as deep as the lowest tier of holes. Then roots are pushed through these holes and a second layer of earth put in. The process is repeated till the keg is full. Then plants are set on the top. As the keg is being filled the earth should be packed very firmly, both around the plants and in the keg. When full the soil should be thoroughly soaked and allowed to drain before being taken to the window. To insure a supply of water for all the plants, a short piece of pipe should be placed in the center of the keg so as to reach about half way toward the bottom. This will enable water to reach the plants placed in the lower tiers of holes. If the leaves look yellow at any time, they may need water or a little manure water.

As parsley is grown for its leaves, it can scarcely be over fertilized. Like cabbage, but, of course, upon a smaller scale, it is a gross feeder. It demands that plenty of nitrogenous food be in the soil. That is, the soil should be well supplied with humus, preferably derived from decaying leguminous crops or from stable manure. A favorite commercial fertilizer for parsley consists of 3 per cent nitrogen, 8 per cent potash and 9 per cent phosphoric acid applied in the drills at the rate of 600 to 900 pounds to the acre in two or three applications—especially the nitrogen, to supply which nitrate of soda is the most popular material.

A common practice among market gardeners in the neighborhood of New York has been to sow the seed in their cold frames between rows of lettuce[Pg 115] transplanted during March or early April. The lettuce is cut in May, by which time the parsley is getting up. When grown by this plan the crop may be secured four or five weeks earlier than if the seed is sown in the open ground. The first cutting may be made during June. After this first cutting has been made the market usually becomes overstocked and the price falls, so many growers do not cut again until early September when they cut and destroy the leaves preparatory to securing an autumn and winter supply.

When the weather becomes cool and when the plants have developed a new and sturdy rosette of leaves, they are transplanted in shallow trenches either in cold frames, in cool greenhouses (lettuce and violet houses), under the benches of greenhouses, or, in fact, any convenient place that is not likely to prove satisfactory for growing plants that require more heat and light.

This method, it must be said, is not now as popular near the large cities as before the development of the great trucking fields in the Atlantic coast states; but it is a thoroughly practical plan and well worth practicing in the neighborhood of smaller cities and towns not adequately supplied with this garnishing and flavoring herb.

A fair return from a cold frame to which the plants have been transplanted ranges from $3 to $7 during the winter months. Since many sashes are stored during this season, such a possible return deserves to be considered. The total annual yield from an acre by this method may vary from $500 to[Pg 116] $800 or even more—gross. By the ordinary field method from $150 to $300 is the usual range. Instead of throwing away the leaves cut in September, it should be profitable to dry these leaves and sell them in tins or jars for flavoring.

When it is desired to supply the demand for American seed, which is preferred to European, the plants may be managed in any of the ways already mentioned, either allowed to remain in the field or transplanted to cold frames, or greenhouses. If left in the field, they should be partially buried with litter or coarse manure. As the ground will not be occupied more than a third of the second season, a crop of early beets, forcing carrots, radishes, lettuce or some other quick-maturing crop may be sown between the rows of parsley plants. Such crops will mature by the time the parsley seed is harvested in late May or early June, and the ground can then be plowed and fitted for some late crop such as early maturing but late-sown sweet corn, celery, dwarf peas, late beets or string beans.

When seed is desired, every imperfect or undesirable plant should be rooted out and destroyed, so that none but the best can fertilize each other. In early spring the litter must be either removed from the plants and the ground between the rows given a cultivation to loosen the surface, or it may be raked between the rows and allowed to remain until after seed harvest. In this latter case, of course, no other crop can be grown.

Like celery seed, parsley seed ripens very irregularly, some umbels being ready to cut from one to[Pg 117] three weeks earlier than others. This quality of the plant may be bred out by keeping the earliest maturing seed separate from the later maturing and choosing this for producing subsequent seed crops. By such selection one to three weeks may be saved in later seasons, a saving of time not to be ignored in gardening operations.

In ordinary seed production the heads are cut when the bulk of the seed is brown or at least dark colored. The stalks are cut carefully, to avoid shattering the seed off. They are laid upon sheets of duck or canvas and threshed very lightly, at once, to remove only the ripest seed. Then the stalks are spread thinly on shutters or sheets in the sun for two days and threshed again. At that time all seed ripe enough to germinate will fall off. Both lots of seed must be spread thinly on the sheets in an airy shed or loft and turned daily for 10 days or two weeks to make sure they are thoroughly dry before being screened in a fanning mill and stored in sacks hung in a loft.

Varieties.—There are four well-defined groups of parsley varieties; common or plain, curled or moss-leaved, fern-leaved, and Hamburg. The last is also known as turnip-rooted or large-rooted. The objections to plain parsley are that it is not as ornamental as moss-leaved or fern-leaved sorts, and because it may be mistaken for fools parsley, a plant reputed to be more or less poisonous.

In the curled varieties the leaves are more or less deeply cut and the segments reflexed to a greater or less extent, sometimes even to the extent of showing[Pg 118] the lighter green undersides. In this group are several subvarieties, distinguished by minor differences, such as extent of reflexing and size of the plants.

In the fern-leaved group the very dark green leaves are not curled but divided into numerous threadlike segments which give the plant a very delicate and dainty appearance.

Hamburg, turnip-rooted or large-rooted parsley, is little grown in America. It is not used as a garnish or an herb, but the root is cooked as a vegetable like carrots or beets. These roots resemble those of parsnips. They are often 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Their cultivation is like that of parsnips. They are cooked and served like carrots. In flavor, they resemble celeriac or turnip-rooted celery, but are not so pleasing. In Germany the plant is rather popular, but, except by our German gardeners, it has been little cultivated in this country.

Uses.—The Germans use both roots and tops for cooking; the former as a boiled vegetable, the latter as a potherb. In English cookery the leaves are more extensively used for seasoning fricassees and dressings for mild meats, such as chicken and veal, than perhaps anything else. In American cookery parsley is also popular for this purpose, but is most extensively used as a garnish. In many countries the green leaves are mixed with salads to add flavor. Often, especially among the Germans, the minced green leaves are mixed with other vegetables just before being served. For instance, if a liberal dusting of finely minced parsley be added to peeled, boiled potatoes, immediately after draining, this[Pg 119] vegetable will seem like a new dish of unusual delicacy. The potatoes may be either served whole or mashed with a little butter, milk and pepper.

Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order Labiatæ, native of Europe and parts of Asia, found wild and naturalized throughout the civilized world in strong, moist soil on the borders of ponds and streams. Its square, prostrate stems, which readily take root at the nodes, bear roundish-oval, grayish-green, slightly hairy leaves and small lilac-blue flowers in whorled clusters of ten or a dozen, rising in tiers, one above another, at the nodes. The seed is light brown, oval and very small. Like most of its near relatives, pennyroyal is highly aromatic, perhaps even more so than any other mint. The flavor is more pungent and acrid and less agreeable than that of spearmint or peppermint.

Ordinarily the plant is propagated by division like mint, or more rarely by cuttings. Cultivation is the same as that of mint. Plantations generally last for four or five years, and even longer, when well managed and on favorable soil. In England it is more extensively cultivated than in America for drying and for its oil, of which latter a yield of 12 pounds to the acre is considered good. The leaves, green or dried, are used abroad to flavor puddings and other culinary preparations, but the taste and odor are usually not pleasant to American and English palates and noses.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita, Linn.) is much the same in habit of growth as spearmint. It is a native of northern Europe, where it may be found in moist[Pg 120] situations along stream banks and in waste lands. In America it is probably even more common as an escape than spearmint. Like its relative, it has long been known and grown in gardens and fields, especially in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Description.—Like spearmint, the plant has creeping rootstocks, which rapidly extend it, and often make it a troublesome weed in moist ground. The stems are smaller than those of spearmint, not so tall, and are more purplish. They bear ovate, smooth leaves upon longer stalks than those of spearmint. The whorled clusters of little, reddish-violet flowers form loose, interrupted spikes. No seed is borne.

Cultivation.—Although peppermint prefers wet, even swampy, soil, it will do well on moist loam. It is cultivated like spearmint. In Michigan, western New York and other parts of the country it is grown commercially upon muck lands for the oil distilled from its leaves and stems. Among essential oils, peppermint ranks first in importance. It is a colorless, yellowish or greenish liquid, with a peculiar, highly penetrating odor and a burning, camphorescent taste. An interesting use is made of it by sanitary engineers, who test the tightness of pipe joints by its aid. It has the faculty of making its escape and betraying the presence of leaks. It is largely employed in the manufacture of soaps and perfumery, but probably its best known use is for flavoring confectionery.

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis, Linn.)—As its generic name implies, rosemary is a native of sea-[Pg 121]coasts, "rose" coming from Ros, dew, and "Mary" from marinus, ocean. It is one of the many Labiatæ found wild in limy situations along the Mediterranean coast. In ancient times many and varied virtues were ascribed to the plant, hence its "officinalis" or medical name, perhaps also the belief that "where rosemary flourishes, the lady rules!" Pliny, Dioscorides and Galin all write about it. It was cultivated by the Spaniards in the 13th century, and from the 15th to the 18th century was popular as a condiment with salt meats, but has since declined in popularity, until now it is used for seasoning almost exclusively in Italian, French, Spanish and German cookery.

Description.—The plant is a half-hardy evergreen, 2 feet or more tall. The erect, branching, woody stems bear a profusion of little obtuse, linear leaves, green above and hoary white beneath. On their upper parts they bear pale blue, axillary flowers in leafy clusters. The light-brown seeds, white where they were attached to the plant, will germinate even when four years old. All parts of the plant are fragrant—"the humble rosemary whose sweets so thanklessly are shed to scent the desert" (Thomas Moore). One of the pleasing superstitions connected with this plant is that it strengthens the memory. Thus it has become the emblem of remembrance and fidelity. Hence the origin of the old custom of wearing it at weddings in many parts of Europe.

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember:
And there is pansies, that's for thoughts."

Hamlet, Act iv, Scene 5.
[Pg 122]

Cultivation.—Rosemary is easily propagated by means of cuttings, root division and layers in early spring, but is most frequently multiplied by seed. It does best in rather poor, light soil, especially if limy. The seed is either sown in drills 18 to 24 inches apart or in checks 2 feet asunder each way, half a dozen seeds being dropped in each "hill." Sometimes the seedbed method is employed, the seed being sown either under glass or in the open ground and the seedlings transplanted. Cultivation consists in keeping the soil loose and open and free from weeds. No special directions are necessary as to curing. In frostless sections, and even where protected by buildings, fences, etc., in moderate climates, the plants will continue to thrive for years.

Uses.—The tender leaves and stems and the flowers are used for flavoring stews, fish and meat sauces, but are not widely popular in America. Our foreign-born population, however, uses it somewhat. In France large quantities, both cultivated and wild, are used for distilling the oil of rosemary, a colorless or yellowish liquid suggesting camphor, but even more pleasant. This oil is extensively used in perfuming soaps, but more especially in the manufacture of eau de cologne, Hungary water and other perfumes.

Rue (Ruta graveolens, Linn.), a hardy perennial herb of roundish, bushy habit, native of southern Europe. It is a member of the same botanical family as the orange, Rutaceæ. In olden times it was highly reputed for seasoning and for medicine among the Greeks and the Romans. In Pliny's time it was considered to be effectual for 84 maladies! Today[Pg 123] it "hangs only by its eyelids" to our pharmacopœia. Apicus notes it among the condiments in the third century, and Magnus eleven centuries later praises it among the garden esculents. At present it is little used for seasoning, even by the Italians and the Germans, and almost not at all by English and American cooks. Probably because of its acridity and its ability to blister the skin when much handled, rue has been chosen by poets to express disdain. Shakespeare speaks of it as the "sour herb of grace," and Theudobach says:

"When a rose is too haughty for heaven's dew
She becometh a spider's gray lair;
And a bosom, that never devotion knew
Or affection divine, shall be filled with rue
And with darkness, and end with despair."

Description.—The much branched stems, woody below, rise 18 to 24 inches and bear small oblong or obovate, stalked, bluish-green glaucous leaves, two or three times divided, the terminal one broader and notched at the end. The rather large, greenish-yellow flowers, borne in corymbs or short terminal clusters, appear all summer. In the round, four or five-lobed seed vessels are black kidney-shaped seeds, which retain their vitality two years or even longer. The whole plant has a very acrid, bitter taste and a pungent smell.

Cultivation.—The plant may be readily propagated by means of seed, by cuttings, by layers, and by division of the tufts. No special directions are needed, except to say that when in the place they are to remain the plants should be at least 18 inches[Pg 124] apart—21 or 24 inches each way would be even better. Rue does well on almost any well-drained soil, but prefers a rather poor clayey loam. It is well, then, to plant it in the most barren part of the garden. As the flowers are rather attractive, rue is often used among shrubbery for ornamental purposes. When so grown it is well to cut the stems close to the ground every two or three years.

Rue, Sour Herb of Grace
Rue, Sour Herb of Grace

Uses.—Because of the exceedingly strong smell of the leaves, rue is disagreeable to most Americans, and could not become popular as a seasoning. Yet it is used to a small extent by people who like bitter flavors, not only in culinary preparations, but in[Pg 125] beverages. The whole plant is used in distilling a colorless oil which is used in making aromatic vinegars and other toilet preparations. A pound of oil may be secured from 150 to 200 pounds of the plant.

Sage (Salvia officinalis, Linn.), a perennial member of the Labiatæ, found naturally on dry, calcareous hills in southern Europe, and northern Africa. In ancient times, it was one of the most highly esteemed of all plants because of its reputed health-insuring properties. An old adage reads, "How can a man die in whose garden sage is growing?" Its very names betoken the high regard in which it was held; salvia is derived from salvus, to be safe, or salveo, to be in good health or to heal; (hence also salvation!) and officinalis stamps its authority or indicates its recognized official standing. The name sage, meaning wisdom, appears to have had a different origin, but as the plant was reputed to strengthen the memory, there seems to be ground for believing that those who ate the plant would be wise.

Description.—The almost woody stems rise usually 15 to 18 inches high, though in Holt's Mammoth double these sizes is not uncommon. The leaves are oblong, pale green, finely toothed, lance-shaped, wrinkled and rough. The usually bluish-lilac, sometimes pink or white flowers, borne in the axils of the upper leaves in whorls of three or four, form loose terminal spikes or clusters. Over 7,000 of the small globular, almost black seeds, which retain their vitality about three years, are required to weigh an ounce, and nearly 20 ounces to the quart.

Cultivation.—Sage does best upon mellow well-[Pg 127][Pg 126]drained soil of moderate fertility. For cultivation on a large scale the soil should be plowed deeply and allowed to remain in the rough furrows during the winter, to be broken up as much as possible by the frost. In the spring it should be fined for the crop. Sage is easily propagated by division, layers and cuttings, but these ways are practiced on an extensive scale only with the Holt's Mammoth variety, which produces no seed. For other varieties seed is most popular. This is sown in drills at the rate of two seeds to the inch and covered about ¼ inch deep. At this rate and in rows 15 inches apart about 8 pounds of seed will be needed to the acre.

Sage, the Leading Herb for Duck and Goose Dressing
Sage, the Leading Herb for Duck and Goose Dressing

Usually market gardeners prefer to grow sage as a second crop. They therefore raise the plants in nursery beds. The seed is sown in very early spring, not thicker than already mentioned, but in rows closer together, 6 to 9 inches usually. From the start the seedlings are kept clean cultivated and encouraged to grow stocky. By late May or early June the first sowings of summer vegetables will have been marketed and the ground ready for the sage. The ground is then put in good condition and the sage seedlings transplanted 6 or 8 inches apart usually. Clean cultivation is maintained until the sage has possession.

When the plants meet, usually during late August, the alternate ones are cut, bunched and sold. At this time one plant should make a good bunch. When the rows meet in mid-September, the alternate rows are marketed, a plant then making about two bunches. By the middle of October the final[Pg 128] cutting may be started, when the remaining plants should be large enough to make about three bunches each. This last cutting may continue well into November without serious loss of lower leaves. If the plants are not thinned, but are allowed to crowd, the lower leaves will turn yellow and drop off, thus entailing loss.


Relative Sizes of Holt's Mammoth and Common Sage Leaves
Relative Sizes of
Holt's Mammoth and Common
Sage Leaves

For cultivation with hand-wheel hoes the plants in the rows should not stand closer than 2 inches at first. As soon as they touch, each second one should be removed and this process repeated till, when growing in a commercial way, each alternate row has been removed. Finally, the plants should be 12 to 15 inches apart. For cultivation by horse the rows will need to be farther apart than already noted; 18 to 24 inches is the usual range of distances. When grown on a large scale, sage usually follows field-grown lettuce, early peas or early cabbage. If not cut too closely or too late in the season sage plants stand a fair chance to survive moderate winters. The specimens which succeed in doing so may be divided and transplanted to new soil with little trouble. This is the common practice in home gardens, and is usually more satisfactory than growing a new lot of plants from seed each spring.

For drying or for decocting the leaves are cut when the flowers appear. They are dried in the shade. If a second cutting is to be made, and if it is desired that the plants shall live over winter, this second cutting must not be made later than September in the North, because the new stems will not have time to mature before frost, and the plants will probably winterkill.[Pg 129]

Sage seed is produced in open cups on slender branches, which grow well above the leaves. It turns black when ripe. The stems which bear it should be cut during a dry afternoon as soon as the seeds are ripe and placed on sheets to cure; and several cuttings are necessary, because the seed ripens unevenly. When any one lot of stems on a sheet is dry a light flail or a rod will serve to beat the seed loose. Then small sieves and a gentle breeze will separate the seed from the trash. After screening the seed should be spread on a sheet in a warm, airy place for a week or so to dry still more before being stored in cloth sacks. A fair yield of leaves may be secured after seed has been gathered.

Uses.—Because of their highly aromatic odor sage leaves have long been used for seasoning dressings, especially to disguise the too great lusciousness of strong meats, such as pork, goose and duck. It is one of the most important flavoring ingredients in certain kinds of sausage and cheese. In France the whole herb is used to distill with water in order to secure essential oil of sage, a greenish-yellow liquid employed in perfumery. About 300 pounds of the stems and leaves yield one pound of oil.

Samphire (Crithmum maritimum, Linn.), a Euro[Pg 130]pean perennial of the Umbelliferæ, common along rocky sea coasts and cliffs beyond the reach of the tide. From its creeping rootstocks short, sturdy, more or less widely branched stems arise. These bear two or three thick, fleshy segmented leaves and umbels of small whitish flowers, followed by yellow, elliptical, convex, ribbed, very light seeds, which rarely retain their germinating power more than a year. In gardens the seed is therefore generally sown in the autumn as soon as mature in fairly rich, light, well-drained loam. The seedlings should be protected with a mulch of straw,[Pg 131] leaves or other material during winter. After the removal of the mulch in the spring no special care is needed in cultivation. The young, tender, aromatic and saline leaves and shoots are pickled in vinegar, either alone or with other vegetables.

Dainty Summer Savory
Dainty Summer Savory

Savory, Summer (Satureia hortensis, Linn.), a little annual plant of the natural order Labiatæ indigenous to Mediterranean countries and known as an escape from gardens in various parts of the world. In America, it is occasionally found wild on dry, poor soils in Ohio, Illinois, and some of the western states. The generic name is derived from an old Arabic name, Ssattar, by which the whole mint family was known. Among the Romans both summer and winter savory were popular 2,000 years ago, not only for flavoring, but as potherbs. During the middle ages and until the 18th century it still maintained this popularity. Up to about 100 years ago it was used in cakes, puddings and confections, but these uses have declined.

Description.—The plant, which rarely exceeds 12 inches in height, has erect, branching, herbaceous stems, with oblong-linear leaves, tapering at their bases, and small pink or white flowers clustered in the axils of the upper leaves, forming penciled spikes. The small, brown, ovoid seeds retain their viability about three years. An ounce contains about 42,500 of them, and a quart 18 ounces.

Cultivation.—For earliest use the seed may be sown in a spent hotbed or a cold frame in late March, and the plants set in the open during May. Usually, however, it is sown in the garden or the field where[Pg 132] the plants are to remain. In the hotbed the rows may be 3 or 4 inches apart; in the field they should be not less than 9 inches, and only this distance when hand wheel-hoes are to be used, and each alternate row is to be removed as soon as the plants begin to touch across the rows. Half a dozen seeds dropped to the inch is fairly thick sowing. As the seed is small, it must not be covered deeply; ¼ inch is ample. When the rows are 15 inches apart about 4 pounds of seed will be needed to the acre. For horse cultivation the drills should be 20 inches apart. Both summer and winter savory do well on rather poor dry soils. If started in hotbeds, the first plants may be gathered during May. Garden-sown seed will produce plants by June. For drying, the nearly mature stems should be cut just as the blossoms begin to appear. No special directions are needed as to drying. (See page 25.)

Uses.—Both summer and winter savory are used in flavoring salads, dressings, gravies, and sauces used with meats such as veal, pork, duck, and goose and for increasing the palatability of such preparations as croquettes, rissoles and stews. Summer savory is the better plant of the two and should be in every home garden.

Savory, Winter (Satureia montana, Linn.), a semi-hardy, perennial, very branching herb, native of southern Europe and northern Africa. Like summer savory, it has been used for flavoring for many centuries, but is not now as popular as formerly, nor is it as popular as summer savory.[Pg 133]

Description.—The numerous woody, slender, spreading stems, often more than 15 inches tall, bear very acute, narrow, linear leaves and pale lilac, pink, or white flowers in axillary clusters. The brown, rather triangular seeds, which retain their vitality about three years, are smaller than those of summer savory. Over 70,000 are in an ounce, and it takes 15 ounces to fill a quart.

Cultivation.—Winter savory is readily propagated by means of cuttings, layers and division as well as seeds. No directions different from those relating to summer savory are necessary, except that seed of winter savory should be sown where the plants are to remain, because the seedlings do not stand transplanting very well. Seed is often sown in late summer where the climate is not severe or where winter protection is to be given. The plant is fairly hardy on dry soils. When once established it will live for several years.

To increase the yield the stems may be cut to within 4 or 5 inches of the ground when about ready to flower. New shoots will appear and may be cut in turn. For drying, the first cutting may be secured during July, the second in late August or September. In all respects winter savory is used like summer savory, but is considered inferior in flavor.

Southernwood (Artemisia Abrotanum, Linn.), a woody-stemmed perennial belonging to the Compositæ and a native of southern Europe. It grows from 2 to 4 feet tall, bears hairlike, highly aromatic leaves and heads of small yellow flowers. The plant is often found in old-fashioned gardens as an orna[Pg 134]mental under the name of Old Man. In some countries the young shoots are used for flavoring cakes and other culinary preparations.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Linn.), a perennial of the Compositæ, native of Europe, whence it has spread with civilization as a weed almost all over the world. From the very persistent underground parts annual, usually unbranched stems, sometimes 3 feet tall, are produced in more or less abundance. They bear much-divided, oval, oblong leaves and numerous small, yellow flower-heads in usually crowded corymbs. The small, nearly conical seeds have five gray ribs and retain their germinability for about two years.

Tansy is easily propagated by division of the clumps or by seed sown in a hotbed for the transplanting of seedlings. It does well in any moderately fertile garden soil, but why anyone should grow it except for ornament, either in the garden or as an inedible garnish, is more than I can understand. While its odor is not exactly repulsive, its acrid, bitter taste is such that a nibble, certainly a single leaf, would last most people a lifetime. Yet some people use it to flavor puddings, omelettes, salads, stews and other culinary dishes. Surely a peculiar order of gustatory preference! It is said that donkeys will eat thistles, but I have never known them to eat tansy, and I am free to confess that I rather admire their preference for the thistles.

Tarragon, the French Chef's Delight
Tarragon, the French
Chef's Delight

Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus, Linn.), a fairly hardy, herbaceous rather shrubby perennial of the Compositæ, supposed to be a native of southern[Pg 135] Russia, Siberia, and Tartary, cultivated for scarcely more than 500 years for its leaves and tender shoots. In all civilized countries its popular name, like its specific name, means dragon, though why it should be so called is not clear.

Description.—The plant has numerous branching stems, which bear lance-shaped leaves and nowadays white, sterile flowers. Formerly the flowers were said to be fertile. No one should buy the seed offered as tarragon. It is probably that of a related plant which resembles tarragon in everything except flavor—which is absent! Tagetes lucida, which[Pg 136] may be used as a substitute for true tarragon, is easily propagated by seed and can be procured from seedsmen under its own name. As tarragon flowers appear to be perfect, it is possible that some plants may produce a few seeds, and that plants raised from these seeds may repeat the wonder. Indeed, a variety which naturally produces seed may thus be developed and disseminated. Here is one of the possible opportunities for the herb grower to benefit his fellow-men.

Cultivation.—At present tarragon is propagated only by cuttings, layers and division. There is no difficulty in either process. The plant prefers dry, rather poor soil, in a warm situation. In cold climates it should be partially protected during the winter to prevent alternate freezing and thawing of both the soil and the plant. In moist and heavy soil it will winterkill. Strawy litter or conifer boughs will serve the purpose well. Half a dozen to a dozen plants will supply the needs of a family. As the plants spread a good deal and as they grow 15 to 18 inches tall, or even more, they should be set in rows 18 to 24 inches apart each way. In a short time they will take possession of the ground.

Uses.—The tender shoots and the young leaves are often used in salads, and with steaks, chops, etc., especially by the French. They are often used as an ingredient in pickles. Stews, soups, croquettes, and other meat preparations are also flavored with tarragon, and for flavoring fish sauces it is especially esteemed.[Pg 137]

Probably the most popular way it is employed, however, is as a decoction in vinegar. For this purpose, the green parts are gathered preferably in the morning and after washing are placed in jars and covered with the best quality vinegar for a few days. The vinegar is then drawn off as needed. In France, the famous vinegar of Maille is made in this way.

The leaves may be dried in the usual way if desired. For this purpose they are gathered in midsummer. A second cutting may be made in late September or early October. Tarragon oil, which is used for perfuming toilet articles, is secured by distilling the green parts, from 300 to 500 pounds of which yield one pound of oil.

Thyme for Sausage
Thyme for Sausage

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Linn.), a very diminutive perennial shrub, of the natural order Labiatæ, native of dry, stony places on Mediterranean coasts, but found occasionally naturalized as an escape from gardens in civilized countries, both warm and cold. From early days it has been popularly grown[Pg 138] for culinary purposes. The name is from the Greek word thyo, or sacrifice, because of its use as incense to perfume the temples. With the Romans it was very popular both in cookery and as a bee forage. Like its relatives sage and marjoram, it has practically disappeared from medicine, though formerly it was very popular because of its reputed properties.

Description.—The procumbent, branched, slender, woody stems, which seldom reach 12 inches, bear oblong, triangular, tapering leaves from ¼ to ½ inch long, green above and gray beneath. In the axils of the upper leaves are little pink or lilac flowers, which form whorls and loose, leafy spikes. The seeds, of which there are 170,000 to the ounce, and 24 ounces to the quart, retain their germinating power for three years.

Cultivation.—Thyme does best in a rather dry, moderately fertile, light soil well exposed to the sun. Cuttings, layers and divisions may be made, but the popular way to propagate is by seed. Because the seed is very small, it should be sown very shallow or only pressed upon the surface and then sprinkled with finely sifted soil. A small seedbed should be used in preference to sowing in the open ground first, because better attention can be given such little beds; second, because the area where the plants are ultimately to be can be used for an early-maturing crop. In the seedbed made out of doors in early spring, the drills may be made 4 to 6 inches apart and the seeds sown at the rate of 5 or 6 to the inch. A pound should produce enough plants for an acre. In hand sowing direct in the field, a fine[Pg 139] dry sand is often thoroughly mixed with the seed to prevent too close planting. The proportion chosen is sometimes as great as four times as much sand as seed. Whether sown direct in the field or transplanted the plants should finally not stand closer than 8 inches—10 is preferred. When first set they may be half this distance. In a small way one plant to the square foot is a good rate to follow. The young plants may be set in the field during June, or even as late as July, preferably just before or just after a shower. The alternate plants may be removed in late August or early September, the alternate rows about three weeks later and the final crop in October.

Thyme will winter well. In home garden practice it may be treated like sage. In the coldest climates it may be mulched with leaves or litter to prevent undue thawing and freezing and consequent heaving of the soil. In the spring the plants should be dug, divided and reset in a new situation.

When seed is desired, the ripening tops must be cut frequently, because the plants mature very unevenly. But this method is often more wasteful than spreading cloths or sheets of paper beneath the plants and allowing the seed to drop in them as it ripens. Twice a day, preferably about noon, and in the late afternoon the plants should be gently jarred to make the ripe seeds fall into the sheets. What falls should then be collected and spread in a warm, airy room to dry thoroughly. When this method is practiced the stems are cut finally; that is, when the bulk of the seed has been gathered.[Pg 140] They are dried, threshed or rubbed and the trash removed, by sifting. During damp weather the seed will not separate readily from the plants.

Of the common thyme there are two varieties: narrow-leaved and broad-leaved. The former, which has small grayish-green leaves, is more aromatic and pleasing than the latter, which, however, is much more popular, mainly because of its size, and not because of its superiority to the narrow-leaved kind. It is also known as winter or German thyme. The plant is taller and larger and has bigger leaves, flowers and seeds than the narrow-leaved variety and is decidedly more bitter.

Uses.—The green parts, either fresh, dried or in decoction, are used very extensively for flavoring soups, gravies, stews, sauces, forcemeats, sausages, dressings, etc. For drying, the tender stems are gathered after the dew is off and exposed to warm air in the shade. When crisp they are rubbed, the trash removed and the powder placed in stoppered bottles or tins. All parts of the plant are fragrant because of the volatile oil, which is commercially distilled mainly in France. About one per cent of the green parts is oil, which after distillation is at first a reddish-brown fluid. It loses its color on redistillation and becomes slightly less fragrant. Both grades of oil are used commercially in perfumery. In the oil are also crystals (thymol), which resemble camphor and because of their pleasant odor are used as a disinfectant where the strong-smelling carbolic acid would be objectionable.[Pg 141]

Besides common thyme two other related species are cultivated to some extent for culinary purposes. Lemon thyme (T. citriodorus, Pers.), like its common relative, is a little undershrub, with procumbent stems and with a particularly pleasing fragrance. Wild thyme, or mother-of-thyme (T. serpyllum, Linn.), is a less grown perennial, with violet or pink flowers. It is occasionally seen in country home gardens, and is also used somewhat for seasoning.[Pg 143][Pg 142]

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