Herbs for Healthy Skin

I like receiving information from all sources. The article I’m linking to here was sent to me from a web page called BioClarity. The article contains information on 17 herbs you can grow at home that will aid in having healthy skin. Since there are so many herbs, there’s surely one- or more- that everyone can grow and use.


Below are some samples of the article.



These vibrant flowers are easy to grow and work as a fantastic component of natural skin care recipes. Not only will your garden look bright—your face will, too! Calendula oil is derived from marigold flowers, and can be used in a host of ways. It offers anti-inflammatory properties, and can soothe itchy skin conditions. It’s also a fantastic antiseptic, and can help speed up wound healing for those dealing with cuts, wounds, acne sores, and other skin ailments.

Topical Benefits: Infuse calendula into your favorite oils to make homemade lotion, salve, and even hair products. Apply calendula oil to dry skin or chapped lips for some added moisture.

Growing Tips: This bright flower thrives in areas of the yard that are partially shaded or receive full sun. Prepare a garden bed in the back yard with organic potting soil before planting. Be sure to water your calendula well and pinch off decaying blooms and petals regularly to extend the blooming period. Hint: calendula are actually great at repelling insects, so plant them near your vegetable garden to serve as natural pesticide.



Next time you’re chopping up cilantro for your favorite guacamole or salsa recipe, consider the benefits this herb offers for your skin. Eating cilantro provides plenty of health benefits, including decreased cholesterol and digestive issue relief, but it can also pack a powerful punch when it comes to skin care. Cilantro is jam-packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals, and provides a potent dose of Vitamin C. Cilantro has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can help soothe inflammation for those with acne-prone skin.

Ingestible Benefits: Throw cilantro into your favorite salad or dish to soothe your digestive system and decrease high cholesterol levels.

Topical Benefits: Grind coriander seeds and mix the powder into your favorite DIY mask to take advantage of its soothing, anti-inflammatory benefits.

Growing Tips: This aromatic herb does best in sunny or lightly shaded areas in southern zones. Make sure your soil is moist and well-draining. As you begin to plant, be sure to leave around seven inches between each seed; if you want to maintain your fresh cilantro, sow them every two to three weeks.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read more.


What to do with your herbs?

The infographic below is from the fix.com blog, an informative site with lots of easy to read information about herbs and gardening. 

Here’s what Chris McLaughlin has to say:

“When beginner gardeners ask me which plants are hardy and forgiving, my answer is always herbs. If a busy gardener asks me which plants will thrive in near-neglect, my answer is herbs. When a foodie gardener asks about fast-growing plants that will feed both people and bees, my answer is herbs

Herbs are the answer to many gardening questions for good reason: they’re an incredibly versatile and prolific group – almost to a fault. In fact, many herbs can be compared to cucumber plants. By the end of the summer, they’re being given away by the bushel because no one is sure what to do with them past some basic dishes. This doesn’t have to be the case for your abundant herb garden this year. We’ve got better ideas.”

Source: Fix.com Blog

What’s Eating My Plants

Have you ever gone out to water your garden in the morning only to find holes in your plants’ leaves that weren’t there the day before?

As many of you know, I garden organically, using only safe products to combat pests and disease on my plants. I like to make my own products, but sometimes there are remedies that I cannot make that work so well. Safer brand makes some of the products I use. The following infographic and information was sent to me. I think it’s very useful and concise.

(I am not being compensated for posting this info.)

Most pest problems can be solved with four naturally-derived pest controls: neem oil, diatomaceous earth for bugs with an exoskeleton, B.T. for caterpillars, and insecticidal soap used on soft-bodied insects.

While the culprit in your garden may be pesky bugs, don’t rule out four-legged pests that can do large scale damage. If big chunks of leaves have been eaten, the vandal is most likely a deer. Keeping deer from eating your garden before you get a chance to is easily solved with a tall fence, six feet or higher, that puts some distance between them and your crops.  Damage on a smaller scale, and closer to the ground, can be caused by rabbits.

Rabbits can operate covertly, digging a crawlspace under any fencing or squeezing through gaps. Keeping them at bay may be done by knowing what their nose knows.  A rabbit’s sense of smell is what attracts them to your garden in the first place, so use it against them by planting onions on the edge of your garden, or sprinkle powdered red pepper. You can also consider making a hot cocktail to spray on your plants out of hot peppers, onions, and garlic.

Being proactive against a deer or rabbit invasion in your garden, however, may be the best method for keeping them out.  Plant deer-resistant plants along the inside and outside edges of your garden fences, or choose flowering perennials and annuals that will make your garden look beautiful and smell wonderful while still keeping rabbits away.

Some leaf-eating insects can cause so much damage in just a few days that your plants might be dead within the week!

Use this quick guide to identify the pest eating your plant and what solution would be best to keep that bug away from destroying your garden.

There are also a few additional insects, below the infographic, to keep an eye out for that could hurt your plant’s leaves.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. If you like our infographic, feel free to share it on your site as long as you include a link back to this post to credit Safer® Brand as the original creator of the graphic.

12 Bugs That Eat Leaves

Since you rarely see the pest that is eating your plants, you often have to decide upon a treatment by observing the damage done. Here are the most common culprits who are eating your leaves and what you can do about it.

1. Leafminers are larvae of flies, sawflies, and beetles that feed on leaves and causes discolored blotches or wiggly lines. Leafminers particular like columbine, mums, citrus trees and tomatoes. The damage is usually relatively harmless to the plant but if it does get out of control spray neem oil on the top and bottom of leaves to protect them.

2. Box suckers are wingless nymphs of the box psyllids often found inside ball shaped shoot tips in spring. To control the damage, cut off the shoot tips you find suckers and discard. The damage caused by box suckers looks like tiny holes poked into leaves. Aphids, squash bugs and spider mites are all sucking insects that cause this type of damage. Red spider mite damage will show yellow mottling on leaves. Gall mites will often cause raised pimples or clumps of matted hairs on leaves. Sucking insects are mostly harmless but you can keep them away by using insecticidal soap.

3. Scale insects cause tiny blister or shell-like bumps on leaf backs, sticky excretions, and sooty mold on plant leaves. The damage caused by scale insects could stunt growth so be sure to wash leaves off and spray with horticultural oil or neem oil.

4. Thrips are tiny black flies that suck sap from leaves, which causes white patches to appear on leaves and petals of mostly indoor plants. Get rid of thrips with diatomaceous earth (DE) or insecticidal soap.

5. Vine weevil larvae are cream-colored grubs with brown heads that feed on plant roots which causes plants to suddenly collapse. Adult vine weevils are flightless nocturnal black beetles that can make notches in leaves. To kill the larvae, use nematodes and, to kill adult vine weevils, use diatomaceous earth.

6. Caterpillars are probably what comes to mind for most people when you first see holes in your plant’s leaves. For the majority of caterpillars, you can take the time to rub off the eggs you find on the plant and pick off caterpillars. It’s best to go inspect your plants early in the morning, which is when you will most likely find them chewing away. You can also apply sticky traps to capture adult moths before they can lay their eggs on your trees and plants. There are several different kinds of caterpillars that might be causing the damage. Cabbage white caterpillars love to eat brassicas and nasturtiums. Tomato hornworms are the caterpillars who often damage fruits. To get rid of caterpillars, dust your plants with B.T. Caterpillars will leave black excrement dots called “frass” on leaves. Since earwigs can cause similar looking bite patterns in leaves as caterpillars, finding frass is a good way to tell if it is caterpillars that are damaging your plants.

7. Earwigs are usually more beneficial than harmful since they eat insect eggs and adult aphids. However, they do like their fair share of soft fruits and new plant growth. Sometimes, older leaves tend to be chewed around the edges and look ragged when earwigs are involved. Use a pot filled with hay to attract earwigs and then release elsewhere. If you’re determined to kill the earwigs invading your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around and on plants with bite marks.

8. Sawfly larvae are caterpillar-like white larvae that eat leaves on plants like roses, gooseberries and Solomon’s seal. Leaf rolling is a sign of sawflies. They lay their eggs on plants and their larvae eat the leaves, they make holes that still have some plant tissue intact so the damage looks transparent. It may eventually break down and leave holes. Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to protect your plants from sawfly larvae. You can also pick caterpillars off plants or spray with pyrethrum.

9.Viburnum beetles, both the adult and larvae, eat leaves, which can slow your plant’s growth and looks ugly. To get rid of viburnum beetles and larvae, throw out twigs in late summer that have viburnum beetles’ eggs on them or release lady bugs in the spring to capture the larvae.

10. Japanese beetles feed on flowers and the tissue between leaf veins. Their larvae often causes brown patches in grass. To get rid of Japanese beetles, spray your plants and grass area with neem oil and set up these Japanese beetle traps to capture the adults.

11. Slugs and snails like areas that are moist and shady and eat irregular-shaped holes in the leaf (but not along the edges). To see of snails and slugs are your plant-eating culprits, come out at night with a flashlight and look under leaves. Pour beer in a used, open tuna tin or plate to attract slugs and snails away from plants and into the beer. Slugs and snails often leave shiny trail on leaves and the holes are larger than a pencil eraser but smaller than a quarter. Slugs will also eat ripening fruit touching the ground. If you have a bad infestation, use Dr. T’s Slug and Snail Killer for quick results that won’t harm other beneficial insects.

12. Cucumber beetles can destroy an ornamental overnight. Cucumber beetles will leave tiny transparent circles on plant leaves. Take immediate action to control these plant bugs with diatomaceous earth or use row covers to protect plants before cucumber beetles become a problem.

Don’t think your plants are being eaten by any of these bugs? Animals can often eat your plants too so watch out for possums, rats, deer and rabbits around your garden.

The information in this post is from the Safer blog: 

For over 25 years, Safer® Brand has been a resource for organic gardeners and growers. We proudly offer the broadest and most successful line of OMRI Listed® organic gardening, organic fungicide and organic pest control products.

It’s Organic*, It’s Effective, It’s Safer® Brand.

*For use in organic gardening.

Comal Master Gardener Association

Comal MG Garden EntranceEarlier this Spring, I was privileged to present a program for the Comal (TX) Master Gardener Association. Their facility is on the west side of New Braunfels, TX. I arrived early for my talk since I wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take me to get there. I’m very glad I did!

The facility has been planted with various gardens, all flourishing under the care of many dedicated volunteers.

The following is an annotated photo tour of the gardens.

Comal MG Rose Bed

The rose bed was past it’s first big flush of blooms, but still was full of blossoms. Comal MG Rose Bed

The bed borders the vegetable area.


Neat rows of mature vegetables with drip irrigation installed.

Comal MG Vegetable Garden


Onions, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Broccoli, a huge patch of Potatoes! And more!


I was so impressed with the condition of this vegetable patch. Volunteers must put in many hours of hard work!


And, here is one of my favorite features of the garden –Comal MG Keyhole Garden

A Keyhole Garden done in limestone and actually mortared together. Very nice!



Comal MG Succulents


Across the parking lot, near the building is this bed full of succulents and other native or adapted plants for the Hill Country. The day I was there, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds were visiting the Aloe blossoms.


Then, I discovered the beds in the back of the building!

Herbs! Lots of herbs! Comal MG Herb Garden






Native plants, including various types of Bluebonnets were planted with Salvia greggii, a fabulous blooming plant for dry and sunny areas. Notice the limestone edging bordering the beds.

Comal MG Herb & Native Garden

Comal MG Herb Garden Comal MG Herb Garden



Comal MG Bluebonnets

Did you notice the little touches such as the brightly painted mailboxes used to store tools? Stacked rock wall bordering the Herb Bed?

Most of the plants in the beds are clearly marked, which I particularly like. The facility harvests rainwater for the gardens and everything is well mulched. I’ll say it again- I am very impressed with this facility and the gardens surrounding it. Good job, everyone!

If you live in or around Comal County and have never been to this facility, I highly recommend a visit. It’s at 325 Resource DrNew Braunfels, TX

Here’s a link to the Comal County Master Gardener Facebook Page

Until Next Time,

Good Gardening to you,



We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color. -Maya Angelou, poet (b. 4 Apr 1928)

Early Spring Herbs

While we wait for Spring to really arrive, I’m enjoying these very hardy early Spring or late Winter herbs.

In the Herb Garden the flowers I love to see in early Spring are the blue of Borage, Borago officinalis











and Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, with its tiny yellow and white daisy-like blooms.


Neither Borage nor Chamomile seem to be grown much around here. I don’t know why. Both reseed nicely without being invasive and are useful herbs, too.

Maybe because they’re not in the top five culinary herbs, they’re often forgotten.

Both herbs do well in average garden soil or in large containers. Both will reseed and can be easily grown from seed or from transplants. 

I like to let Chamomile come up where it wants around the garden. It’s so cheery and sweet smelling, never invasive or unwanted in my beds. 

Borage, with its rich blue flowers and large, coarse leaves is a stunning garden addition. It fills space early in the season before the weather gets too hot. Blue flowers are unusual enough that to me, Borage is very special.

Continue reading “Early Spring Herbs”



Featured Post for November 2015

As many of you know, if you’ve been following The Herb Cottage for a while, I like books!

I especially like books on plants and gardening. And, it will come as no surprise to you, that I especially like books on herbs. I keep finding myself adding to my book collection, even though the volumes I have would likely comprise the foundation of a good herb library. Each person who sets out to write a book on herbs brings something different to the project than anyone else. At least, that’s my excuse for having so many good books on herbs!

As I have done in past years, I’ve decided to review some herb books that you might find interesting for gifts or for yourself. Some of these are new titles, some are new to me, but published earlier, and some are my favorites for the study of herbs. So, settle back and enjoy the journey through some books on herbs. A cup of herb tea would be just the thing to accompany you.


The Lavender Garden

by Robert Kourik,

Photographs by Deborah Jones,                    Published 1998

This book has been reviewed many times since its pubication. It is a lovely and useful book on growing lavender, one of the most popular herbs, if my sales are any indication. It covers the main species and many of the cultivars available. The information on growing deals with soil, light, climate and what types do best in what growing conditions. There is a section that will introduce you to the many varieties of lavender- all lavenders are not created equal, you might say- and the pictures are beautiful and helpful. Harvesting and pruning of the plants is also included.

If you are not interested in growing lavender, only in using it for crafts or cooking, you will still find this book helpful. There is considerable information on using lavender in crafts, toiletries and cooking. Mr. Kourik even talks about using the leaves of the lavender plant for flavor, not just the flowers or buds.

You can’t go wrong with this book for a lavender lover! It captures the essence of lavender and is a useful book to have on the shelf. The photographs are divine!



Dental Herbalism, Natural Therapies for the Mouth

by Leslie M. Alexander, PhD, RH(AHG) and Linda A. Straub-Bruce, BS Ed, RDH                                        Published 2014

I saw this book at our local library and thought I would scan it, reading bits here and there to see what it’s all about. Much to my surprise, I’m quite fascinated by it. Dental Herbalism has an introductory section on the physical characteristics of the mouth including teeth, gums, bone, etc. Then, the book opens up into why our oral health is so important. How the mouth is key to our total good health.

As the book continues, various strategies concerning the health of the mouth, teeth, etc. are discussed with the focus being on using herbs to maintain good oral health. There’s a mini herbal encyclopedia with herbs listed that are beneficial to the care of the mouth. Alternative methods for oral care are discussed, giving the reader choices other than the commercial products available.

All in all, this is a valuable approach to wholistic health with the care of the mouth as the focus. A good reference for anyone interested in a healthier body aided by the use of herbs. Even with so much technical information, the book is easy to read and comprehend. It’s written in a very friendly style.



Southern Herb Growing

by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay    Published 1997

If you live and want to grow herbs in South Texas or elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, this book is a must-have. Written in 1997 and updated a couple of times since then, it was the first book that really addressed growing herbs in Texas, which many people said “couldn’t be done”. The book is a wealth of growing information in the Southern climate, when to plant which herb, which ones are easy and which ones are more difficult to get to thrive. It’s useful for anyone along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.

There is a Recipe Section with absolutely mouth-watering photographs accompanying each recipe, a section on planning your herb garden, preserving and crafting which makes the book really complete.

Even with all the books in my library, this is still my go-to book for growing herbs here in Texas.


The Big Book of Herbs

by Arthur O. Clark and Thomas DeBaggio Published 2000

More scholarly than some of the other books on this list, this one goes into great detail about all the various cultivars available for each herb, how to grow the varieties, historical uses as well as the chemistry of each plant. Even though the book is very detailed, it is easy to read and understand. Here’s what Jim Long, publisher of many books on herbs says: “Tom DeBaggio and Dr. Art Tucker give us new insight into herbs we thought we knew well. Everything from propagation to the chemistry of herbs is found here, along with precise pronunciation and the origins of each plant. These two highly esteemed experts have brought together expansive and enlightening information from their many years of experience.”

If you’re serious about herbs, whether growing or using them in products, this book is invaluable. 



The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses

by Deni Bown                                         Published 2001

This is an extensive and very complete collection of herbal information. The Herb Catalog section contains a description of the plants, country of origin and, in some cases, a bit of the usage. In the next section, The Herb Dictionary, you’ll find what the herb is used for, how to grow it, harvest it and a history of usage. Good photos compliment the listings.

If you have room for only one book on herbs and their uses, this would definitely be one to consider.



Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

by Scott Cunningham                                                             Published 1985 (numerous updates)

I added this book to my collection in 2014. Even though I’m not given to casting spells or magical chanting, I do think there is more to this world than we can see. (Fairies, Elves, ESP, Dreams …?)

Scott Cunningham has nicely categorized many herbs into encyclopedic form listing the botanical name, associations for each herb (gender, planet, element and powers) and provided a black and white line drawing for most every listing.

Here’s a sample:

“Dill, Anethum graveolens
Folk Names: Aneton, Dill Weed, Dilly, Garden Dill, Chebbit, Sowa, Keper, Hulwa, Buzzalchippet
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mercury
Element: Fire
Powers: Protection, money, Lust, Love
Magical Uses: The herb is protective when hung at the door and carried in protective sachets. Placed in the cradle it protects children. And if it is placed over the door, no one ill-disposed or envious of you can enter your house.

Dill, owing to the number of seeds the plant produces, is used in money spells. (As is fennel.)

Added to the bath, it makes the bather irresistible, and dill stimulates lust if eaten or smelled (which is why dill pickles are so popular).

Smell dill to cure hiccoughs.”

It’s an interesting and useful book, even if you never want to cast a spell!




The Wild and Weedy Apothecary by Doreen Shababy, Published in 2010

I wrote about this book in the November 2012 edition of the newsletter. I love the tone of this book… and the title! And, now in 2015, I find myself using this book more and more!

It’s incredibly useful, easy to read and the information is clearly presented. The book contains “recipes” for healing uses of herbs, simple teas, food recipes using herbs and a lot about harvesting and using herbs found in your own area. Then, there is an encyclopedic listing of herbs with remedies and recipes for each listing. For instance, under A, you will find the following– Alliums, Anise, Apple, Aromatherapy and Aunt Carols’s Manicotti– each with a recipe or useful commentary.

The Wild and Weedy Apothecary is a book to own and browse through. Use it to make tried and true homemade recipes for simple, everyday ailments with easy to find ingredients.


edibleEdible, An Illustrated Reference to the World’s Food Plants

by National Geographic                                           Published 2008

This book isn’t about herbs, but it’s a fascinating look into the geography of the food we eat.

Given the intense interest today in local foods and eating a more plant based and basic diet, this reference gives us a look at food worldwide. If you’re looking to add some more unusual foods to your diet, this book can help- with food history, how the food is prepared locally and lots more interesting information.

There are almost innumerable books on herbs, each one offering something a little bit different. Whether your herbal passion is to cook with herbs, use them in the garden as pollinators and companion plants, for skin care or other medicinal uses, for use in rituals or in crafts there are books for you.
In addition to books, there is a wealth of information on the Internet, of course. But, something I like about books is how immediate the format is. You can flip from section to section, have several books open on your table at once, make notes in the margins, press herb sprigs or flowers among the pages -try doing that with your laptop! Books are warm, they don’t intrude and can be kept forever.

Oh, if your books are being nibbled on by silverfish, press wormwood, Artemesia officinalis, among the pages or scatter it around your bookshelves to deter them.


And… who could resist…


The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.

-Charles Schulz, cartoonist (26 Nov 1922-2000)