Spring herbs –  I’m always happy to see my little patch of stinging nettle every spring.  The leaves decrease pain and act as a mild diuretic, accounting for their use in providing relief from allergies and arthritis. The young leaves, rich in iron, chlorophyll and vitamin C are excellent cooked as a vegetable.  Once the leaves are cooked, they lose their sting, and you can drink the water for an extra boost.   Herbalists use a strong infusion as a tonic for treating iron deficiency anemia.  To keep your supply fresh, cut them back three or four times a year to encourage new growth, but the dried leaves can also be used to make an excellent tea – steep 1-2 tbsp dried leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 5-30 minutes.  Strain, sweeten if desired and enjoy.

          Lavender, it’s a good friend to have on the windowsill or in the garden,  but Lavandula officinalis/Lavandula angustifolia is a herb we don’t give much thought to. Yet, for centuries it’s been used as a general tonic, sedative, antispasmodic, diuretic, and digestive aid.  We use the tea and essential oil for insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and a host of other complaints.  Lavender is easy to grow in most climates.  It doesn’t require a lot of water, likes full sun and well-drained soil.  It will form fairly large bushes that can easily be made into a hedge.  Harvest lavender as it blooms throughout the summer, and prune back by about a third each fall.   

          If you’re an avid gardener or athlete, this recipe is for you:  Blend 2 drops rosemary essential oil, 1 drop lavender essential oil and 1 drop eucalyptus oil.  (Avoid essential oils in pregnancy, and never take internally.) Add 4 teaspoons of sweet almond or sesame oil.  Blend well.  Apply to body, especially joints before going out to the gym or the garden. (Lavender makes a great athlete’s foot ointment, for the recipe, e-mail me at lumbypublicmarket@gmail.com) Donna, the herb lady