Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ginger Around The World

You've made ginger cookies, you've had ginger ale. The posts this week have discussed making ginger tea (infusion) and briefly mentioned its use as a muscle soother and nausea remedy. So how about something completely delicious? Ginger syrup.

Syrups are easy--and very enjoyable to both make and use. Simply chop the ginger root very fine and measure 2-4 tablespoons. Place this in the bottom of a sauce pan and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until you're left with only 1 cup of water. In other reduce, reduce by evaporation the liquid by half. Now strain the ginger out, return the "tea" to the pan and add 1/2 cup sugar or honey. This creates a thick, very fragrant, not-terribly-sweet syrup. REmove from the heat and stir until the tea and honey are completely blended. Pour into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator. (This is important: it won't keep at room temperature.)

Enjoy this syrup in teas, added to oatmeal, drizzled onto waffles after maple syrup for a zingy taste...or even added along with chopped candied ginger. This will really get your blood moving!

The Buttercup Book List (TM) for this week looks at The Garden of Life: An Introduction To The Healing Plants Of India by Naveen Patnaik (Doubleday, 1993). This is a lovely book with a general and intriguing introduction to Ayurveda, the Indian "Way of Life" as well as a compilation of sacred plants, medicinal plants, culinary plants, cosmetic plants and aromatic plants used in Ayurveda and throughout India. Colorful illustrations on nearly every other page add to the comfortable feeling that this is a culturally rich and evocative read, and since it's full of myths, folklore and anecdotal information about a wide variety of exotic and compelling plants, it's a must for any herbal bookshelf. Pick it up if you see it at a used book store.

Enjoy the syrup!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cinnamon, Ginger & Lemon, Oh My!

This trio of tree bark, root and citrus fruit is quite a combination. Separately they are used in various desserts and tangy chutneys. But medicine?

Yes! Herbalists around the world prize these plants and the medicines made from them for healing and soothing many an illness. This week we're looking at ginger--the tropical root of Zingiber officinale. I've used this particular herb for years as a pharmaceutical as well as including it in various delicious dishes. Ginger root is valuable for addressing colds and flu, as well as easing stomach gripes and pains, increasing blood flow throughout the body and relieving chills, reducing fever and stimulating the entire body.

In the last post I suggested making a tea with ginger root and also making a honey. To make a medicinal honey, you can take two approaches: the first uses fresh herbs and is, in my opinion, the stronger of the two methods. Be creative with your herb choices: lavender makes a superbly flavored honey, as does mint. Ginger can be chopped (flesh and skin) and honeyed for an enlivening addition to any pot of tea or even added to oatmeal, hot grains, and sweet and sour salad dressing.

Chop coarsely the herb(s) you wish to use in your honey. Place the ginger in a large stainless steel pan or bowl. Cover with honey; start with one cup honey to 2-4 tablespoons chopped ginger. Cover the pot or bowl and allow to sit overnight. Honey at room temperature is very thick and viscous, so in order to strain it, the honey must be gently heated. Place the pot on low heat only until the honey liquefies. Immediately strain the roots out and reserve the fresh-smelling, vibrant honey. Use up to one teaspoon of this glorious, zingy honey per cup of mint, lemon or other herbal tea, and enjoy!

The second method uses dried, and usually powdered, herbs. Simply purchase dried ginger and add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried ginger for each cup honey. Mix with a spoon and enjoy. Over time, the honey will thicken considerably but will still be lovely for teas and to spread on toast.

For ready-made tea, go here for Vineyard Herbs' signature line of teas, especially our Organic Ginger Lemon Tea. And be sure to purchase a few roots of ginger at the store to begin making your own teas, honeys, and--tomorrow--I'll show you how to make syrups.

Holly Bellebuono

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Fierce Root: Ginger for Warming the Chills

Ginger makes The Buttercup List this week. It's a great herb--the root is the part used--and it's very common so most people are familiar with it.

But do you use it for anything other than an occasional stir-fry or a Thai soup? Ginger is very versatile and deserves a place not only in the larder for dinners but in the medicine cabinet for healing.

Ginger root is warming. This by itself is enough to grant it access for the winter months. Ginger can be taken fresh, of course, and it's delicious and spicy. It can also be taken in capsules, in tincture form (a concentrated liquid extract), in powders (mix a little powder into your honey and spread on toast), or in tea.

When making ginger root tea, chop the ginger coarsely and leave the skins on. Place one teaspoon ginger in a small tea pot and pour 1 cup boiling water over top. Steep, covered, for 8-10 minutes, and then strain. Add a tiny spot of honey and sip. This is a natural remedy for sore throats and coughs, and it is wonderful for helping circulation. Ginger tea can be drunk to warm those cold hands and feet that somehow never get warm, and it can be a soothing yet expectorant tea for coughs, encouraging the lungs to expel the fluid. If you plan to drink it throughout the day, chop enough root (and skins) for 5-8 teaspoons and place in a larger teapot; cover with one quart boiling water and steep 10-15 minutes. Strain, add 1 tablespoon honey, and store in a thermos.

Taking a bath? Add ginger tea to the hot water and enjoy how it makes you feel. Keep it out of your eyes, and massage your muscles while you're in the bath.

More tips tomorrow on how to use this wonderful herbs,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fierce Heat: Advice from a Zapotecan Midwife

I had the great fortune to interview a remarkable woman last year. Dona Enriqueta Contreras is an extraordinary midwife from Oaxaca, Mexico, with a fiercely successful record (she delivered more than 2,000 babies in her 60-year career without EVER losing a mother or baby in childbirth). And more than that, she has fierce friends. They love her. She is widely regarded as a leader in her community, and in many communities of North America that value motherhood, natural childbirth, women's rights and strong medical health.

I learned more in the few hours I spoke with Dona Enriqueta than I have from any interview I've done. She appears to be a sweet little old lady, but no. It's complete deception! She's a thunderbolt, and she rocked my world with advice and guidance that I didn't believe I was ready for, or, to be honest, wasn't sure I needed at the time. She told me to be strong and stand tall. Of course, we all believe we are strong and confident.

But she said to take it further. Don't back down, she told me. (And coming from a woman who has stood up to Mexican government authorities, I gathered her meaning was one of resistance, fighting and tenacity.) Don't give up, she said. Stand your ground and don't let yourself be bullied. She was speaking from a platform of advocating for empirical study for midwifery students who are increasingly bullied by the Mexican government to take classes, take notes, read books--but not actually help deliver babies. This, according to Dona Enriqueta, is ludicrous, and she's made her views known. (American restrictions for midwifery study are not as empirically based as they should be, either.)

I endeavor to put Enriqueta's words to action in my own life. I'm not a midwife (thought I am forever grateful to the midwives who helped deliver my own two children) but as a healer, herbalist, mother, teacher, writer, wife, and business owner, I think of her advice frequently and ask myself, "What would Dona Enriqueta say if I did this?" Her fierce Zapotec eyes are enough to tell me--be strong!

Where in your life can you be stronger? Fiercer? Take a deep breath and be like the Zapotec midwife who shepherded more than two thousand women into motherhood. Don't be bullied by your employer, by the utility provider, by a salesperson, by your spouse. Be strong!

And join me on July 6, 2001 at 4pm at The Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha's Vineyard for a slide show presentation and tea reception to "meet" Dona Enriqueta and 19 other remarkable international healers from my years of herbal interviews. Go here for the complete calendar from Vineyard Herbs.


February Free Consulations

In the spirit of Valentines Day (love, compassion and the giving of loving gifts), we're offering free herbal and nutritional consultations.

Please call (508) 687-9600 or email Holly to schedule a free, half-hour phone consultation during the month of February.

Interested in enhancing your diet? Adding nutritious or healing herbs to your daily routine, but not sure which ones are right for you? Addressing a health complaint? Wishing to re-connect with natural remedies for a fitter and healthier you? Discuss these concerns and preventive ways to keep you feeling your best, or traditional methods for addressing stubborn, chronic illnesses with Holly in a friendly, encouraging environment. Family centered, individualized attention.

Holly is a certified herbalist with sixteen years experience consulting, teaching and writing about herbs and herbal medicine. She approaches healing from the perspective of the body's natural desire to be healthy and the mind's innate knowledge of how to be healthy. Consultations are relaxed, positive, and confidential. Normal consultations are one hour at the rate of $90; enjoy this free consultation to start you on the road toward natural and radiant health!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Warming & Waking Up

One of my favorite "mentors," if you will, was the great mythologist Joseph Campbell. He didn't know it, but he greatly influenced my life and provided me with hours of contemplation and inspiration. Campbell explored mythology, consciousness and metaphor--without getting bogged down in the academic science of it like Carl Yung. Instead, Campbell approached these subjects from a sense of wonder and awe--and subsequently guides the reader into a safe place for introspection and exploration.

Campbell advocated getting out there and making the most of your life; creating an adventure that would take you farther than you'd ever imagined. This, he said, would make your life meaningful and worth living. "The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature." In other words, to wake up and be a part of things.

There are many ways to wake up, especially in the depths of winter when it's so cold: Fall in love. Get a dog (we did, and boy is he keeping us busy!). Bask by the woodstove. Eat a hot bowl of soup. Study something new. Get active (we joined our new local YMCA and are loving it). Appreciate something. This is a big one: the more we are grateful for what we have, the more our hearts open up to the expansive giving of the universe. Gratitude, joy, wonder. This is the heartbeat.

Find this rhythm and you've woken up!

Enjoy your day,

Friday, January 21, 2011

The USDA's Biobased Label: It's Not Organic!

As of today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is introducing its newest voluntary program, BioPreferred, that will allow qualifying manufacturers to label their products with a “biobased” certification. The program is designed to decrease the amount of petroleum in certain consumer products and increase the use of biological ingredients, such as soy and other plant or animal ingredients.

Now, typical consumer items such as trash bags, packaging, lips balms, inks and glues that have previously been manufactured primarily with petroleum, can be made with some natural content and be labeled "biobased." This means products from the produce aisle of the supermarket to the housecleaning aisle to the skin care aisle will have the opportunity to boast a new label certifying them petroleum-reduced or even petroleum-free.

This is a step in the right direction. But please be aware this label does not signify organic. In fact, the USDA's directive states that certain qualifying products are only required to have a minimum biobased content of 25 percent! This means that in certain products, such as animal feeds, up to 75% of the product can contain petroleum-derived or contaminated ingredients, and still boast the "biobased" label and certification. Now, even products that aren’t even close to meeting organic rules can be certified ‘biobased,’ which will likely be confusing.

I believe this USDA measure will be beneficial across a wide spectrum of industries in the effort to reduce dependence on petroleum and finite oil supplies. But, consumers looking for body care products with real quality should look to their community’s traditional herbalist first. Herbalists have always cared about the consumer, making products with top quality natural ingredients and concern for the environment. I’ve never used petroleum in my body care line, for example. I use beeswax in my salves, which is a traditional—and natural—method.

To view our full catalog, go here. And read those labels!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

So What Do You Do With Dandelion?

I know, it's winter. There's no dandelion out there to be picked. So you know all about this wonderful herb and can't harvest it right now. What to do?

There are several ways to enjoy dandelion and reap its goodness, even during snowy January.

First, harken back to your community herbalist. She probably has a good store of dandelion vinegar, wine, tincture, elixir, dried root, tea, or even root beverage ready for you to try. Go here for dandelion leaf and root tincture; go here for delicious d. root beverage (at the bottom of the page, called DandyBlend).

Ever had roasted dandelion root tea? It's basically a coffee substitute. It tastes rich, and it's thicker than tea (more like coffee). It's got a natural sweetness, but also a natural bitterness (part of its digestive quality) that makes it ideal as a mineral-rich pick-me-up on a cold winter morning. We sell a granulated drink so all you have to do is add boiling water. You can also add sweetener and milk, and voila! A nourishing satisfying winter drink with all the tonic benefits of dandelion root (yes, women, you probably need that extra iron!). This drink even employs the goodness of roasted chicory and roasted beetroot without any caffeine or additives.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dandelion: The Verve of Life

A common weed, you say? Yes, but if it were Google it would be a billionaire. I'll bet there are many, many publicists and marketing professionals who wish they were half as successful as the dandelion. It manages to be everywhere at once, a marketer's dream.

Everyone knows dandelion; it's the little weed with a bright yellow flower that turns to fluff with seeds that scatter with wishes in the wind. Taraxacum vulgare's leaves are deeply serrated--giving it the name dent-de-lion, or tooth of the lion. But I think its name reveals more about its personality than its physical shape.

Dandelion is another herb that perseveres. It's found everywhere from rich, shady gardens to dry, sunburned gravelly lots. It holds on tight with a deep taproot and launches its seeds to the far corners of the universe, with ultimate hope.

Most people use dandelion as an iron supplement and a liver nourisher, and for these purposes you can find more information at It's fantastic for helping stimulate digestive "juices" due to its bitter flavor and it helps the liver manufacture new cells and succeed at its job as a toxin remover for the entire body. But today I'm discussing a lesser known virtue of this common plant: its traditional use as a weight-loss aid. Because dandelion is a diuretic, it causes the body to lose water. It accomplishes this with astonishing efficiency, and while commercial diuretics cause the body to become potassium depleted (and can therefore be dangerous to the cardiac system), dandelion naturally re-supplies the body with the potassium it loses, keeping a healthy balance. It's because of this function that dandelion tops the charts in helping people lose water weight, which can be the beginning of a successful weight loss program. (Excess water weight is harmful to the heart, because it must pump a greater volume of fluid through channels meant for less. Removing excess water gives the heart a break and puts less pressure on arteries and vessels.) Combine water weight loss with healthy eating, conscious food selection, appropriate exercise and the determination to accomplish a goal, and dandelion can be pivotal in helping people begin to achieve their ideal weight.

Its versatility and reliability put dandelion at the top of The Buttercup List. Not to mention, dandelion improves liver and endocrine function by strengthening the liver's ability to "cleanse" the blood and remove toxins through to the kidneys. And of course, dandelion's naturally high levels of iron make it ideal for women with heavy menstrual periods or those who struggle with anemia. Vineyard Herbs creates a concentrated tincture of freshly harvested dandelion root and leaf (Liver Cleanse Extra Iron Formula) which can be taken daily; we also sell a delicious dandelion root beverage that can be a coffee substitute with its rich, deep flavor and velvety consistency. Tomorrow we'll have ideas and recipes for making dandelion a delicious and productive part of the daily diet. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Perseverance, and Strrretching

Five petals. Five posts a week, plus one to recap and look ahead. Today's post continues our lesson from the buttercup, that cheerful yellow weed everyone loves to hate, but from which we can learn a great deal. We can look it this weed's success and make a mental note about perseverance, about tenacity, about never giving up.

But what about when you're wrong? Tenacity doesn't mean being stubborn or insisting you're right when you might not be. The buttercup is one of those weeds, along with mint and ivy and morning glory, that twists and turns and climbs. It grows so fast you can almost watch it; morning glory seems able to take over a garden in a single day. Plants may seem to be still and unmoving, but in fact they have the uncanny ability to move, transport themselves and sometimes even relocate. Physic-ly this is because their cells are responding to photosynthesis by adding cells to the darker side of the stalk, enabling the stalk to bend and stretch toward the life-giving light. If a morning glory is climbing a fence, it bends itself around the fence post in a circuitous direction--essentially going out of its way--to get to its final destination.

Ah, a lesson in disguise. These plants are persistent. They're not giving up but they're not stoically stubborn, either. They stretch, navigate, explore alternate routes. And so must we.

So, not to belabor the point, I'll get to the book review. The book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I read this book last week and fell in love with it--with the characters (who are very personable and real), with the theme (about class structure and equality and rights and friendship), and even with the setting (1962 rural Mississippi). The characters are almost all women, who, with the tunnel vision of 1962, perform their roles as employer or servant. The women all know each other, work with each other, socialize with each other, and pray on Sundays. But their lives are vastly different. The white women live lives of apparent ease until you realize they are tortured by things not so apparent on the outside. The black women live lives of apparent hardship until you realize that while their lives are difficult, they are perhaps richer emotionally and spiritually, especially compared to some of the white women who have closed their hearts and minds to what would otherwise make them more complete, holistic beings.

The Help makes The Buttercup List because of its heartfelt writing style, because much of it is based on true stories experienced by the author, and because it has the capacity to teach us exactly what the buttercup and the morning glory can teach us. Namely, to persevere and at the same time, to stretch. Two of the characters in The Help aren't content with their social structure--they recognize that it is wrong-- and they work to change it. These women stretch (in fact, they put themselves in great danger to do so), but because of them the flowers of Jackson, Missippippi blossom all the brighter.

I highly recommend The Help and also encourage you to look for a part of your life that needs changing. Where could you stretch a little to make a change happen? Where can you bend or change something (your attitude? your locale? your relationship?) in such a way that you explore all the options? Like photosynthesis encourages a flower to bend its stalk toward the sun, so can you. Look around for the warming sunshine in your life and bend your entire existence toward it.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Hang In There: Tenacity is Buttercup's Lesson

The little yellow buttercup is one of those plants we never see in medicinal herbals; it's not a healing herb, it's not an edible. It's not even a cultivar, since its persistence in taking over a garden makes it one of those flowers generally hated by gardeners. But is it all that bad? In fact, it's not. One of buttercup's greatest teachable lessons is tenacity. We can learn a lot from a small, insignificant herb that has the strength and staying power to root its way across fields and gardens, through parking lots and cities, across meadows and farms--all the while blooming its cheery, bright blossoms.

Working on a project? In the middle of a crazy commitment, perhaps wondering if you can complete it? Responsible for something difficult? Scared? Many plants have the silent ability to teach us lessons, and the buttercup is no exception: it teaches the lesson of perseverance. Of never giving up. The creeping buttercup is referred to in some dictionaries as an "opportunitistic colonizer" or in other words, a very successful weed. Take a clue from this flower and mark your opportunities. Claim your space. Branch out, roots and all, toward what will make you whole, happy and successful. Weeds across the world are those very plants that have struck out on their own and multiplied so veraciously that they are not only known and recognized wherever they go, they are also among the most vigorous and healthy plants in any given area. Unwilling to say no, unable to be driven off, weeds (and buttercups in particular) are hardy, flexible, bending, changing, stretching, reaching, twisting, climbing. In short, they do what it takes to survive.

And sometimes they survive in a harsh atmosphere. Doing so requires they adapt in peculiar ways. The buttercup, for example, is not only inedible--it's actually toxic, especially to cattle and sheep that may graze it in the pastures. It displays its toxicity with a foul taste that warns cattle to leave it alone--and they do. As a result, buttercup lives. It's this tenacity--this going the extra mile to ensure its survival--that enables buttercups to thrive...and it's this lesson from the plant world that can inspire humans to dig down, recognize your strengths and your unique abilities, and to survive. Not only to survive, but to flourish, especially in the face of difficult times.

I'd always hated this little weed when I gardened, ripping it out mercilessly and following the long skinny roots to their source in an attempt to eradicate it. But it was always futile; the cheerful yellow flowers would pop up again. The buttercup lived. I look back on those gardening days a little wistfully now, thankful that I had the opportunity to experience the tenacity of buttercup, recognizing its beauty now and appreciating the fact that it, like all the other herbs I love, has a lesson to teach me. Perseverance. Overcoming obstacles. Becoming an "opportunistic" and successful being. Flourishing in whatever endeavor I decide to pursue. We can all be so successful!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Week: Tenacity & The Dandelion

This time of year I receive a lot of questions about natural and botanical ways to keep the body fit, healthy and vigorous. We're all in the throes of winter (at my house right now, the yard is an ice skating rink upon which even our dog can't stand up straight). We're hovering around the woodstove and eating filling, hearty meals. Exercise may include going to the gym or working out in the basement; seldom do we have the snow-free or wind-free days that allow us to enjoy sunshine and safe exercise in the outdoors. It's during these months that people, rightfully so, concern themselves with weight maintenance and, symbiotically, the health of the liver and the digestion. As an herbalist, I guide many people toward herbs and nourishing therapies that can truly make a difference in these cold winter months.

This week's focus, then, will be on the liver. It coincides nicely with The Buttercup theme of tenacity, since the key herb for the liver is the Dandelion. We all know this weed--it's everywhere and it makes a point of sticking around. Just last month there were still blossoms peeking through the dead grass. It's a long-term herb for a long-term organ: your liver is vital to the proper functioning of your body.

Two years ago I happened upon a lush, two-foot high dandelion growing in the shade. I was astonished at the health of this plant--normally we see it as a flat, crushed, stepped-upon, forgotten weed. But this one was soaring up toward my knees with full green foilage. I won't belabor the metaphor--it could easily be compared to the healthy human body--but I will say that this herb, as do others, offers clues as to its purpose and use for human health. The old-fashioned Doctrine of Signatures is an outdated and superficial method of determining how to use a plant, although sometimes it happened to make sense: the yellow color of barberry and goldenseal roots comes from the alkaloid berberine, which does indeed help with the health of the liver (with which the color gold is associated). While dandelion contains no berberine (it contains choline), its orangish/yellow color guided early herbalists to use it as a hepatic (liver) herb. It is a wonderful liver tonic, a "loving massage" for the liver, if you will. Use it frequently.

There's also a metaphor with your emotional and spiritual health. Do you, like the dandelion, frequently feel flat, crushed, stepped-upon or forgotten? We all do, at times, but it's the strength of your tenacity that will determine how quickly you rise up again. Sometimes a vitamin or mineral deficiency can contribute to these "down" feelings, and simple herbs like dandelion can quickly and easily help the body's natural balance of vitamins and minerals right itself. This week's posts will show you how easy (and tasty) it can be to include dandelion as part of a mineral-rich, liver-strengthening diet.

So, dandelion. Tenacity. The Buttercup List this week will address liver health, perseverance, and ways to use that wonderful weed from your yard. Can't dig it up right now? No problem, we've done it for you. Prepared medicines and delicious dandelion beverages are available at Join us throughout the week for more complete information, helpful ideas and inspiration.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

An Herbalist Makes Her Peace with Technology

Yes, I'm normally found fingers in the dirt, bare feet in the garden, or standing behind my farmer's market booth selling my medicines. I'm happiest in these places--where the sounds of nature are familiar and the sun is a stronger presence than my swivel chair. But I've made peace with the technology around me--even, dare I say it? Embraced it. I opened a Quickbooks account. I'm starting a blog. I'm (gasp) getting a Facebook page. I've reached the episode in my professional life as an herbalist, healer, teacher and writer where I feel the need to take the next step, which in this case is offering a few words of encouragement alongside a smattering of herbal know-how to anyone who might be looking for it.

For sixteen years, I've taught what I've been fortunate enough to learn about herbal medicine. I learned traditionally--following around old-timers in the rugged Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, and watching what they harvested, experimenting with my formulas, and finally establishing my practice as a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of potent and effective natural herbal remedies. My products contain herbs I've harvested myself (about 85%), either cultivated or wildcrafted, and many of my products are completely organic. I don't use the bad ingredients and I try to foster an appreciation and respect for the natural world with the wonderful people who take my classes or apprentice with me. (More information at my website,

So, what is The Buttercup List? As any gardener will tell you, buttercups are lovely little yellow flowers that will take over a garden and quickly strangle it. When I served as head gardener at the historic Mast Farm Inn, the owner bitingly referred to the yellow blossoms as "ranunculus" as she ripped them out by the roots. Over time, I've learned to never plant buttercups in my garden (or ivy, mint, morning glory or honeysuckle, for that matter) but I've also learned to appreciate the flower's tenacity. It has five petals and its very fierceness can teach us something about staying true to your cause and never giving up. Thus: The Buttercup List is five days each week of inspiration, quotes, plant information and even guidelines with recipes for making herbal medicines for you and your family. It's not the World Cup: It's The Buttercup!

Here's the Buttercup Schedule: Monday: Daily Inspiration; Tuesday: International Inspiration and Book Reviews; Wednesday: Meet a Plant; Thursday: Herbs & How They Work; Friday: Recipes & How-To. Saturday we take off, and then it's Buttercup Sunday--recapping the week and looking ahead.

If I can figure out the links, you'll be able to access this blog and The Buttercup List directly from Facebook, as well as from my website Thanks for following, and please come back and share with friends who might need a pick-me-up, an encouraging word, an answer to a question about herbs or health, or an idea for how to use all those wonderful herbs growing outside the back door.