Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Difference Between Herbs & Spices

{The first year I grew lavender}

One of my favorite reference books is The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. She was simply a wealth of good, practical, usable knowledge.

Have you ever thought of the difference between an herb & a spice? I hadn't really given it any thought until I recently re-read a portion of her book. In her chapter on "Herbs & Flavorings", she shares great advice about the difference . . .

"Herbs" are the leaves or other parts of the aromatic plants grown in the temperte zone. "Spices" are the stems, leaves, roots, seeds, flowers, buds, or bark of aromatic plants grown in the tropics . . .
  • Culinary Herbs: basil, bay leaf, caraway, chives, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon
  • Stronger seasoning herbs: capers, dandelion, garlic, horseradish, hot pepper, mustard, nasturtium
  • Decorative herbs: bergamot, lovage, rose, rosemary, tansy
  • Scented herbs: chamomile, scented geranium, lavender, marigold, mint, patchouli, rose, rue, thyme
  • Medicinal herbs: anise, horehound, hyssop, feverfew
  • Herbs that are natural pesticides: pennyroyal, pyrethrum
  • Herbs that thrive in containers: garlic, parsley, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, chives, mints, winter savory, geranium, bay leaf
  • Edible flowers: marigold, lemon mint, borage, nasturtium, bean, chrysanthemum, cucumber, rose, squash [including pumpkin], violet

{Some of my grown & dried herbs, spices & herb mixes}

You can also grow herbs for dyeing, making cosmetics, or attracting bees that make exotic flavors of honey . . .Unlike spices, herbs can be used fresh from the garden because we temperate-zone dwellers can grow them ourselves. You can plant herbs in a border around your vegetable garden or give them a plot of their own. Kitchen herbs fit nicely into about a 3x5-foot area, ideally outside near your back, or kitchen, door! Herbs are grown in solid patches jammed up against each other rather than in rows like a vegetable garden, so you get lots for your space. Some herbs are enthusiastic self-spreaders, but wood, stone, or metal edging keeps them within your chosen bounds and can also serve as little footpaths of stones or slate. Some herbs you can start from seed, but many are propagated by division or layering. Some are temperate-zone perennials, but many do best if you bring them in for the winter. Some do fine in an ongoing window box or container setting. For hers in the house, a southern-facing window in a coolish room is ideal.

{More of my own spices}

When I first took the step of taking my window herbs outside & beginning a little kitchen herbs garden, Carla's words of advice were my "courage in a book." Something I also found out is that herbs grow almost anywhere! For some, it seems that they even grow best in "unhealthy", un-taken-care-of ground! So, even if you don't have a green thumb, but have always wanted to grow SOMETHING, especially something that will benefit your family & your food . . . herbs are a great place for you to start!

{Drying my echinacea, lavender, rosemary & sage}

So, go look for those herb seeds or starter plants, say a little prayer & watch in amazement as your plants take off & you enjoy that fresh rosemary for your chicken, fresh cilantro for your homemade salsa/pico de gallo, herbs for your own teas & sage that you grew yourself in this fall's Thanksgiving stuffing!

Blessings from Ohio . . . Kim<><


  1. Kim,
    Thanks for the tea ideas! The recipes were just what I needed. I'm wanting to move to growing more herbs for medicinal purposes as well as enjoyment! Love the "new" look of your blog! I've been so busy with Katie and schooling that I haven't had a lot of time to blog hop, so if it's been this way for a while, give me a pass! As usual your blog posts are always informative and encouraging! Blessings,
    Sheri from Hilltop Blessings

  2. great post!!!!! I am dying to know if you would put the cute fonts on my blog for me...?? Could I send you some soaps and beeswax butter bars in trade for your efforts?

  3. We are going to be trying more herbs this year...tea herbs for me!

    I have some motherwort that we started a few years back at it is unstoppable.


Related Posts with Thumbnails