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At this year’s Spring Conference, we at OGS decided to set up a handful of volunteers with pen, paper, and the directive to go home after the event and write a post on each class they attended for us to share on the OGS Blog in a series we’re calling the Conference Blog!

In this series, we bring together the diverse perspectives of our audience and hear experiences from dozens of different voices–commercial farmers, backyard growers, conscientious consumers, and everything in between!

Ocimum tenuiflorum, Holy Basil

The lively group discussion of favorite perennial plants started in the Lipinsky auditorium before Chip’s class even officially began and it very well could have run on all evening.

While folks in the south used to have a harder time finding successful perennial varieties, we did not suffer from lack of ideas in this class! The audience waxed poetic about basil, mint, elderberry–the variety holy basil in particular had our instructor swooning!

The class aimed to provide some more options for plant lovers who were looking for useful plants and I assumed that to mean only in our gardens, but Chip broadened my mind to include potted perennials that we bring into our homes in the winter. Duh, that potted aloe I’ve had for a decade falls into this group. Chip advocated for useful houseplants, ditching the fichus and spider plants for tender perennials like key limes and ginger! He claims to have harvested 60 limes off a potted plant in his house during the holiday season. Cool!

Chip shared experiences as a dedicated “plant person” and OGS teacher from way back and opened my eyes to a plethora of amazing plants that come back year after year ..” sometimes with some reasonable accommodations.”

We learned some alternatives to bulb onions–lots of perennial varieties that are abundant and hardy beyond the common chive. Walking onions, for instance, form clusters of small onion bulbs at the top of the stem which eventually causes the stem to bend to the ground. The bulbs root and produce new shoots, providing an easy and interesting perpetual onion.

Lovage was pretty much unknown by the group, or under-appreciated for sure until Chip informed us of it’s tasty and easy growing nature.

Stinging nettles, horseradish, turmeric, and even daylilies were highlighted in this class. I was reminded of many plants on my property that I will now appreciate more with a better understanding of their healing properties. Eager to saute up some daylily buds this summer!

I’m eager to try the folk recipe for fire cider Chip included in his talk. What a great way to tie together all the powerful perennials we’d been learning about into a tasty daily medicine. The apple cider vinegar based health tonic uses the powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, decongestant, and spicy circulatory movers in the garden to boost immune, stimulate digestion, and warm you up!



Author: OGS

Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.

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