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Most Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
House Leek (crassulaceoe)
Anemone (wood)


Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
House Leek (crassulaceoe)
Anemone (wood)



History








It seems probable that many of the flavoring herbs now in use were
similarly employed before the erection of the pyramids and also that
many then popular no longer appear in modern lists of esculents. Of
course, this statement is based largely upon imperfect records, perhaps,
in many cases only hints more or less doubtful as to the various
species. But it seems safe to conclude that a goodly number of the herbs
discussed in this volume, especially those said to be natives of the
Mediterranean region, overhung and perfumed the cradle of the human race
in the Orient and marked the footsteps of our rude progenitors as they
strode more and more sturdily toward the horizon of promise. This idea
seems to gain support also from the fact that certain Eastern peoples,
whom modern civilization declares to have uneducated tastes, still
employ many herbs which have dropped by the wayside of progress, or like
the caraway and the redoubtable "pusley," an anciently popular potherb,
are but known in western lands as troublesome weeds.

Relying upon Biblical records alone, several herbs were highly esteemed
prior to our era; in the gospels of Matthew and Luke reference is made
to tithes of mint, anise, rue, cummin and other "herbs"; and, more than
700 years previously, Isaiah speaks of the sowing and threshing of
cummin which, since the same passage (Isaiah xxviii, 25) also speaks of
"fitches" (vetches), wheat, barley and "rie" (rye), seems then to have
been a valued crop.

The development of the herb crops contrasts strongly with that of the
other crops to which reference has just been made. Whereas these latter
have continued to be staples, and to judge by their behavior during the
last century may be considered to have improved in quality and yield
since that ancient time, the former have dropped to the most subordinate
position of all food plants. They have lost in number of species, and
have shown less improvement than perhaps any other groups of plants
cultivated for economic purposes. During the century just closed only
one species, parsley, may be said to have developed more than an
occasional improved variety. And even during this period the list of
species seems to have been somewhat curtailed--tansy, hyssop, horehound,
rue and several others being considered of too pronounced and even
unpleasant flavor to suit cultivated palates.

With the exception of these few species, the loss of which seems not to
be serious, this absence of improvement is to be regretted, because with
improved quality would come increased consumption and consequent
beneficial results in the appetizing flavor of the foods to which herbs
are added. But greatly improved varieties of most species can hardly be
expected until a just appreciation has been awakened in individual
cultivators, who, probably in a majority of cases, will be lovers of
plants rather than men who earn their living by market gardening.

Until the public better appreciates the culinary herbs there will be a
comparatively small commercial demand; until the demand is sufficient to
make growing herbs profitable upon an extensive scale, market gardeners
will devote their land to crops which are sure to pay well; hence the
opportunity to grow herbs as an adjunct to gardening is the most likely
way that they can be made profitable. And yet there is still another;
namely, growing them for sale in the various prepared forms and selling
them in glass or tin receptacles in the neighborhood or by advertising
in the household magazines. There surely is a market, and a profitable
one if rightly managed. And with right management and profit is to come
desire to have improved varieties. Such varieties can be developed at
least as readily as the wonderful modern chrysanthemum has been
developed from an insignificant little wild flower not half as
interesting or promising originally as our common oxeye daisy, a
well-known field weed.

Not the least object of this volume is, therefore, to arouse just
appreciation of the opportunities awaiting the herb grower. Besides the
very large and increasing number of people who take pleasure in the
growing of attractive flowering and foliage plants, fine vegetables and
choice fruits, there are many who would find positive delight in the
breeding of plants for improvement--the origination of new
varieties--and who would devote much of their leisure time to this
work--make it a hobby--did they know the simple underlying principles.
For their benefit, therefore, the following paragraphs are given.





Next: Production Of New Varieties

Previous: Culinary Herbs Defined



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