Monday, January 10, 2011

Catalogs to Curl Up With: Richter's Herbs

This is the glorious time of year when the plant porn arrives, and gardeners start thinking about what will be planted in the coming months when the ground begins to thaw.    Every catalog offers something special, but I do have some favorites.  My budget only allows me to place a couple of orders, but I can dream. 

When it comes to growing edibles, I admit that I’m attracted to the exotic.  Did you know that there are 7,000 species of food plants, but only 140 are cultivated commercially and most of the world’s food supply depend on just 12?    Anybody can find a spearmint or peppermint plant at their local Home Depot, but Richter’s has 38 varieties of mint.  They're also starting a Seed Zoo, hiring explorers to act as seed “curators,” travelling around the world to obtain landraces – plants with unique features found in only one region or sometimes in just one village.   They'll make these seeds available in limited quantities online.

My heart gives a little jump when the Richter's catalog arrives, because I know that I'll see something new.  Maybe I can’t grow them all here in zone 6A, but they’re fun to read about anyway.   Here are some highlights from this year’s catalog.  If you’ve had experience with any of them, I’d love to hear about it.

Andrographis – the main herb used to fight the common cold in Scandanavia “better than echinacea.”   Annual.

Bacopa – I grew the ornamental bacopa last year.  This variety, monniera, is medicinal, treating hysteria and insanity.  May be good to have on hand.

Sweet Salad Basil – leading variety for commercial dried spices, with a cinnamon-clove note.

Yellow bedstraw

Bedstraw Yellow – curdles milk!  Also known as cheese rennet.  Tops and roots are source of yellow and red dyes.

Rose Scented Bergamot (monarda)– a perrenial in my zone.  Source for tea and potpourri.  Pretty pink flowers.

Jewelweed – the antidote to poison ivy.  Must have.

Arp Rosemary – the hardiest variety of rosemary.  Reliable to zone 7 and can live in 6 with protection.

Chia – seeds are considered a “superfood” full of nutrients.

Bayberry – Aromatic shrub.  May go for the plant since it sounds like seeds are hard to germinate.


Edelweiss – Sentimental.  I sang this song to the E. girl when she was tiny, tiny. Sounds like it’s easy to grow, and medicinal.

Yellow Foxglove – One of my favorite flowers and does well in shade.  Yellow would be so pretty.

Wild Ginger – a.k.a Indian Ginger.  Perennial in my zone.

Golden Hops – I’ve been told these annual vines will grow fast and would like to try them on my deck arbor.


Piss- Off  Plant – they recommend planting this where you don’t want dogs or cats to pee or dig.   Only perennial in zone 11+

Orange Spice Thyme – with 24 varieties of thyme it’s hard to choose, but this is a Richter’s “exclusive.”

Right now I’m just browsing – I probably won’t place any orders until next month.  But until then, I’m curious…What are you excited about planting this year?


Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I am sorry I am not familiar with the plant above so I don't have much helpful comment to give. But I know the feeling of growing things that you won't get easily in the market. With so much variety in the seed catalogs, I too like to grow the exotic ones which we can't buy in supermarkets. The seed you are about to choose look so exciting that I can't wait to see how they grow in you garden.

meemsnyc said...

That looks like such an amazing catalog! I'm looking forward to getting the fig tree I just ordered, and for Christmas, my brother gave us an Asian pear tree and a currant bush. I can't wait to plant them!

Joanne said...

I stay with the tried and true in my veggie garden, but like the idea of trying something new and exotic. I guess I do that more with my landscape, and the past couple of years have planted different ornamental grasses around the front of the house. I love the look of them, the way they change throughout the seasons.

tina said...

Such a small percentage of cultivated food plants. Amazing!

Jingle said...

what a lovely list,
it seems like you enjoy gardening, which is promising habit...

Happy 2011.
Sorry for being missing for a long time.

Pam at HMG said...

Great list Jen. And thanks for that information on Arp Rosemary. I hate having to lug my large plant in and out of the greenhouse twice a year and this looks like the answer. Sorry, don't have any experience with any of these varieties you listed but eager to hear how you'll do with them. I'm definitely doing the rosemary though (and I would suggest that you get a plant and propagate from that rather than seed rosemary).

TALON said...

"plant porn" - I never choked on my coffee when I read this I started laughing so hard!

Now you've got me intrigued with the "Piss Off Plant" - I will definitely have to get some of those. And I love the idea of yellow foxglove - I'll have to check into that, too. You've made me start dreaming of spring and I thank you for that, JGH!