MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, the 23rd of May.
Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning! I’m Mary Reichard.
KENT COVINGTON, HOST: And I’m Kent Covington.
Up next, the latest in our continuing series on work and vocation called “What People Do All Day?”
REICHARD: Well, warm and sunny weather has finally arrived for most of the country. For many people, that means the pleasures of gardening. Gardening edibles, in particular, with a focus on “clean eating.” That means eating food in its least processed form.
COVINGTON: WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson takes us to meet a woman with a green thumb who’s made a name for herself growing those tasty fresh flavorings for food, herbs.
AUDIO: What are the best? (in a window sill) In a window sill . . . You can grow chives real good in a window sill. You can do peppermint in the house, but you’re gonna have to let it get outside every once in a while, uh, to have a vacation outside.
KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: That’s 58-year-old Kathy Sanders. Where she lives in south Mississippi, she’s better known as “The Herb Lady.”
Today, Sanders is giving a seminar at the gardening center where she works part-time.
AUDIO: Ok. Trust me, after today, you’re going to know how to grow herbs. Anybody can grow herbs.
Sanders developed her own nose for herbs as a little girl. She was visiting her great-grandmother when she smelled what she thought was gum.
AUDIO: She took me outside to the end of her house and there growing on the ground was peppermint. Everywhere. And that was my first introduction to herbs.
Sanders has spent decades learning about these edible plants – how to grow them, how to preserve them, and how to use them. She believes they have a lot to offer. They have food value. They produce beautiful flowers. They even have a therapeutic component.
AUDIO: I have found that when I get outside, and I work in my garden and I work in my herbs, it is a release of stress. It’s a release of those problems that I’m going through at that time. It’s an out.
Sanders is sought-after on the speaking circuit—from homeschool gatherings to hospital staff meetings.
AUDIO: If you don’t mind, let’s walk over here to the herb house right quick, and let’s talk about a few of the individual plants.
Today, gardeners have driven from miles around to attend her class at Buds and Blooms, a 3-acre retail complex of greenhouses and gardens.
AUDIO: Ok. If you notice this is not just the herb house. . . (0:14) It was a planned out adventure in here. Herbs make wonderful companion plants with your vegetable plants. What I mean by that is because of the volatile oils in these plants. They release those volatile oils when it gets warm and they help repel bugs from your other vegetable plants.
Leah Case manages Buds and Blooms. She’s noticed a rising interest in herbs.
AUDIO: People have been definitely doubling if not, you know, buying a whole lot more, and that goes for fruit, fruit trees and herbs alike, because just like myself trying to eat cleaner and wanting to find anything with less pesticides or anything, all natural, and wanting to grow their own.
Growing their own isn’t always easy. The would-be herbalists trailing Sanders through potted lavender and thyme are full of questions.
AUDIO: Yes, ma’am. [I have some lemon balm. What are some uses for that?] You can make a lemon balm tea, you can make a lemon balm lemonade. You can, oh, it makes a wonderful pound cake.
AUDIO: Do you harvest lavender, like, say, you would mint? … Just pull it back and whack the whole thing? Probably where they’re located at, they don’t have the type of summer we have . . .
During the hour-long session, Sanders emphasizes the basics of herb gardening, things like pinching back growth. Watering only when the top layer of soil is dry and gritty.
AUDIO: These are the best tools that God gave us – our hands and our fingers.
She also believes in passing on her knowledge of herbs to the next generation. That includes her grandchildren.
AUDIO: We’d get on our coffee table, and I’d put newspaper down on the coffee table. And I’d bring in a bucket of dirt and I’d get my seeds out. And we’d sit there, and we’d plant seeds. It made a mess, but today I can give Aimee a pack of seeds and say, “Aimee, go plant this for me,” and she can go plant it. Or I say (husband: you don’t have to check behind her) Ah unh . . . )
Sanders is quick to point out that there’s really nothing new under the sun – or in the herb bed. Basil, cilantro, dill, sage – they’ve all been around since Adam and Eve.
AUDIO: And they had to eat just like we have to eat today. And He knew those herbs was going to taste good, and whatever they prepared, it was going to just enhance that.
Sanders stresses that herbs are more than a throwback to the hippie generation or the tool of master chefs. They’re a display of God’s creativity.
AUDIO: I see that this generation now is willing to put in that extra 30 minutes required. I’m so happy for that. We’ve got to start passing on our knowledge or we’re going to be society that has no knowledge.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson, reporting from Caseyville, Mississippi.