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The 2017 Prairie Garden - Herbs & Spices
is dedicated to Ed Czarnecki


  • Herbal Travels: Capturing the Spirit of Provence in a Prairie Garden by Andrea Ratuski
  • DIY Herb Propagation by Dave Hanson
  • Five Tips for Better Herb Gardens by Dave Hanson
  • The Organic Herb Garden by Dave Hanson
  • Herbs for the Compost Bin by Dawn Kitching
  • Herbs of Beauty by Stefan Fediuk
  • Wild About Herbs: Herbs from Nature by Kelly Leask
  • The Black Swallowtail Butterfly: An Ornamental Insect of Dill by Ian Wise
  • Giant Herbs: Ornamental Bee Magnets by Jeanette Adams
  • The Stories Weeds Tell by Joel Penner
  • This Bonsai is Delicious by Michael Collins McIntyre
  • Flavour in the Flower Beds by Fran Wershler
  • In Celebration of Herbs: The 20th Anniversary of the Herb Society of Manitoba by Nataša Juck
  • Tried and Tested Herb Recipes
  • What to Do with All Those Herbs by Teresa Lopata
  • “Basil’s at the Top of the List”: A Conversation with Chef Kelly Andreas of Diversity Food by Linda Dietrick
  • Herb Recipes by Linda Dietrick
  • Cilantro and Friends by Dave Hanson
  • Watercress by Susanne Olver
  • Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Prairies by Tiffany Grenkow
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus Officinalis): A Plant for the Ages by Tania Ottenbrit
  • Rosemary for Remembrance by Susanne Olver
  • Garden Sorrel by Susanne Olver
  • Grow Your Own Cinnamon Tree! by Dave Hanson
  • Herb Mimics by Dave Hanson
  • Delicious Vanilla by Susanne Olver
  • The Physic Garden: A Teaching Garden for Medicinal Plants by Colin Briggs
  • Growing Hops in a Home Garden by Jason Stow
  • Cimicifugas/Acteas by Sandy Venton
  • The Common Dandelion: Rethinking a Misunderstood and Undervalued Weed by Dr. Jatish Kaler
  • Tea Tree ... a Perfect Exotic for “First Timers” by Dave Hanson
  • Herbs and Ukrainian Immigration in Manitoba by Dr. Eva Pip
  • Plants with Jobs: A Day in the Life of an Educational Greenhouse by Carla Zelmer
  • When Plants Can Do Serious Harm: The Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle by Dave Hanson
  • Annual or Perennial? That is the Question by Susanne Olver
  • Adventures of an Urban Gardener by Terry Macleod
  • Itoh Peonies in the Garden by Sandy Venton
  • A Baby Boomer and Rosyblooms by Rick Durand
  • The Spurge Hawkmoth a Garden Pest of Ornamental Cypress Spurge with a Beneficial Past by Ian Wise
  • So Remind Me: Why Am I Still Doing This? by Linda Dietrick
  • Mythbusting: The Soil Under Evergreen Trees Is Very Acidic ... False! by Terry Enno
  • Spotted Wing Drosophila: A New Insect Pest of Berries on the Prairies by Anthony Mintenko
  • Black Knot Fungus: A Destructive Disease of Maydays and Chokecherries by Dr. Ieuan Evans
  • Herb Profiles by Dave Hanson
  • We Remember Gary Platford by Frances Wershler
  • In Memory of Ed Czarnecki by Sandy Venton

The 2017 Prairie Garden

Herbs & Spices

Dave HansonThe Guest editor is Dave Hanson a Winnipeg-based gardening educator and founder/co-manager of Sage Garden Greenhouses. Dave has been growing herbs and spices since his childhood and got his professional start as a teenager, working at River View Herb Farm in Maitland, Nova Scotia. Dave has been a regular contributor to local and national media, hosts a popular gardening call-in on CBC Radio and is very active as a speaker and garden blogger. His focus is on helping gardeners succeed with an all-organic approach and - of course - enjoy the incredible diversity of herbs and other exciting plants that can thrive in prairie gardens.  Dave’s favourite herb to grow is Allspice.

Have a look inside, free sampler Acrobat file

The Guest Editorial

It has been fifteen years since the last herb-themed edition of the Prairie Garden hit the presses and a whole new generation of gardeners is discovering the diverse joys of growing herbs. Sensory and edible plants are an easy entry point for budding gardeners: everyone can appreciate herbs and they are so well suited to gardens big or small. As one gains experience and grows into a green thumb, herbs continue to offer endless possibilities and rich engagement. It is not a surprise that in 2017 – just like fifteen years ago – herbs remain a passion for gardeners.

But it could also be said that the landscape has changed over these years: the ubiquity of quick information via the internet has revolutionized not only how people learn to garden, but also the scope of what people seek to garden. Whereas specialty nurseries were once the only reference point for out-of-the ordinary herbs, it has become quite normal to expect that just about any herb be available close to home during the spring garden rush. And why not? We live in a globally-minded, well-travelled, well-connected world (not to mention many of us have soaked up inspiration from cooking blogs and gardening travelogues that carry us away, vicariously, to exotic places, leaving us with desire to recreate the journey right here at home).

I hope this edition of The Prairie Garden can entice gardeners to herbs and spices that once seemed unlikely candidates for the local scene. Even more importantly, I hope we can inspire confidence for you to succeed and have fun growing these! Two favorite examples are cinnamon trees and galangal ginger – both featured in this edition.

Another thing that is substantially different now, compared to even a few years ago, is the greater awareness of organic options for the garden and the substantial benefits of this approach. Organic gardening is not limited to edibles, yet this is often where it starts. Herbs can be an excellent training ground for discovering the value of certified organic seeds or using a compost-based approach to fertilizing. Perhaps even more cool is seeing how herbs can play a role as companion plants or pollinator attractors. The 2017 Prairie Garden is infused with this mind-set and hopefully makes a very practical case for setting aside chemicals.

Year-round gardening has also taken a big leap forward in recent times. Herbs have always found their way into homes for winter, but some simple technology (better full spectrum lights) has opened up the options for what can actually thrive indoors. Our current herb and spice compendium takes a year-round approach to key information on maintaining herbs as all-season plants, and respects the idea that for many prairie gardeners the season does not end with fall frost!

One other area of vigorous change in the world of herb gardening – and edible gardening more broadly – is the move from backyard to all-yard edible landscaping. These days herb gardens are less often single spaces, but instead intermingled among flowers, veggies, pots, raised beds and any other gardening concept imaginable. In part this trend is in honour of the beauty of herbs . . . Many are right at home as show-stoppers in the flower garden or mixed planters. Others have character (check out our article on herbs as bonsai). But often this shift is a reflection of current trends in lifestyle; gardening is an expression and extension of our selves, and putting this front and centre in our spaces is really about authenticity.

In the end herb gardening is a fine blend of traditional and contemporary perspectives. After all, many of the plants included under the heading “herb and spice” are regional selections that have been grown and used by humans for centuries or more; it is our techniques for growing and accessing these plants that are on the move. The 2017 Prairie Garden is full of ideas on how to thrive as a cold climate herb gardener.

As guest editor, I just want to express my gratitude to the fabulous authors and remarkable volunteers who made this book possible. Thank you for your keen insights and desire to make herbs, spices and all of the other themes covered more fun and successful for prairie gardeners.

Looking forward to a well-seasoned garden!

Dave Hanson

In general use, herbs are any plants used for food, flavoring, medicine, or perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while a "spice" is a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits. In botanical English the word "herb" is also used as a synonym of "herbaceous plant". Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases spiritual usage. General usage of the term "herb" differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. In medicinal or spiritual use any of the parts of the plant might be considered "herbs", including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, resin, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), berries and sometimes the pericarp or other portions of the plant.


Copyright ©2017 The Prairie Garden Committee