PITTSTON — Toss a few salad burnet leaves into your yogurt and the herb will give you “lots of cucumber flavor, without the burping.”
Munch on Jerusalem artichoke roots instead of potatoes and your blood glucose levels should stay on a more even keel.
As for licorice tea, brew a cupful and you won’t want to add sugar. “It’s intensely sweet,” master gardener Marietta Garr told the approximately 20 individuals who attended a “Perennial Herbs” seminar at the Pittston Memorial Library last week.
The presentation, first in a series of three gardening talks hosted by Friends of the Pittston Memorial Library in conjunction with Penn State Master Gardeners, covered herbs that might be growing in your backyard already — or perhaps in the yard of a friend or neighbor willing to share.
“The lady who gave me some walking onions said, ‘Plant this and you’ll never have to buy onions again,’” Garr said, showing the group a picture of tall green stalks topped with little bulbs.
Walking onions got their name because the weight of the bulb can pull a stalk to the ground where the bulb can take root and sprout new growth. If that happens again and again, the onions look like they’re on the march.
“It’s a good plant to get a child interested in gardening,” Garr said.
Some of the herbs Garr discussed weren’t exactly household names.
“Is anybody familiar with lovage?” the master gardener asked, appearing a trifle disappointed as audience members shook their heads.
“It comes up in April and it tastes like celery. If you don’t harvest the tap root, it will come back,” she said, explaining she often uses lovage in recipes that call for celery.
When one audience member asked how to make basil plants last longer, Garr said basil is an annual, not a perennial. Its life can be prolonged by pinching off the flowers as they form, but it won’t last through the winter.
Responding to a question about keeping rosemary through the winter, Garr said ideally the herb should be kept in a pot that can be moved to an unheated garage or porch.
After the talk, members of the audience inspected a table full of herbs, which Garr encouraged them to crush between their fingers to release more of the fragrance.
“Oh, smell this,” Jackie Debo, of Pringle, said, crumbling some greenery.
“Beautiful,” said Gerri Casey, of Lehman.
Both women were eager to add to their own gardens. Debo asked about walking onions, and Garr promised to give her some. Then Casey expressed an interest in Jerusalem artichokes, which are not artichokes but actually a type of sunflower.
“Come over to my yard,” Debo told her. “I’ve got plenty.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT