Monday, October 17, 2016

GERTRUDE B. FOSTER 1920 - 1997 Herbalist

In the month of November we celebrate the birthday of Bunny Foster, editor of The Herb Grower Magazine, which was published by my parents, Phil Foster, the printer and Bunny, the writer. 

During WWII the supply of reliable herb seeds from Europe was interrupted giving Bunny and Phil a reason to start their herb seed business. In 1946 with the war won the first issue of the Magazine was released. 

In 1943 Bunny authored a booklet titled, It Is Easy to Grow Herbs, to encourage people to grow their own garden of herbs from seed.  Here are two paragraphs from page one of that booklet.

Perhaps this brief account of some of the herbs we have grown and loved may inspire you to discover for yourself the new fields of adventure they have opened for us.

You may gain a new enthusiasm for cooking with herbs at hand to enhance favorite dishes or transform less palatable ones.  Botany and history come alive through the fascinating lore surrounding these age-old plants.  In the gardens of the early colonies sweet herbs (for flavoring), pot herbs (vegetables) and simples (medicinal herbs) mingled happily to provide savor, sustenance, and physic. 

The pictures of Bunny and her garden were taken in Falls Village, CT in 1966.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Review by Rosemary Foster Louden

Anne Ophelia Dowden’s The Clover & the Bee was published in 1990.  As author and  illustrator, she details the magical process of pollination.  Although the Library of Congress Catalog lists this book in “juvenile literature”, it is a joy to read at any age.  As with all her scientifically based books she clearly presents the concepts and exquisitely illustrates them. 

If you have not read this book it is available from many used book sellers, some at nominal cost.  If you are a gardener, find and read it. Purchase a copy for your library, share it with the next generation and observe all the many pollinators around you.

Gardeners are an optimistic group. They spend many hours preparing for events that may or may not happen. Will the perennial plant enjoyed last season grow again this year? Will the tomatoes ripen early? Will the newly planted Dogwood display its color on Mother’s Day?  When the roses open their first bloom, will the showers spoil their perfection?

Even when people follow gardening “best practices”, Mother Nature’s support is essential to achieve the desired results.  Gardeners read information, buy seeds, plants, fertilizer, hoses, and tools. Their money expands the horticultural industry in many directions. These millions of dedicated and occasional gardeners can improve their community.  They can choose organic methods and join together to inspire even non-gardeners to buy food at markets that offer local produce.

While tending my small plot at Greenwich Community Garden, I happened to talk to a budding gardener.  He asked me if what he was growing would taste better than what he could buy in the supermarket.  That is not an easy question to answer.  I told him that if he harvested his beans young and picked is tomatoes at their peak of ripeness he would be rewarded.   

Gardening is a recreational activity, farming and landscaping are businesses.  The science of agriculture brings about more changes in the natural environment than individuals’ gardening. People and animals need food, sports need playing fields and florists need constantly available flowers. For business, predicability is key to success and as a result their focus is on the money as well as the product.  

Chemicals are used extensively in agriculture to minimize the need for labor.  Eliminating “pests” can mean destroying weeds, insects and animals.  One of the chemical treatments now available is neonicotinoid pesticide.  Corn seeds and soybean seeds, among others, are treated with it so that the emerging plant will be filled with chemical protection as it grows.

Fortunately, there are scientists who study the web of life, watching for changes, both beneficial and harmful.  In recent years honey bees vital to agriculture have been dying in large numbers.  These losses have been labeled “colony collapse disorder”.  There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids caused this problem.  In July 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides in all national wildlife refuges across the United States by January 2016. While many people rail against genetically modified foods, other equally worrisome products are sold without any fanfare.  Even your neighbors’ lawns treated with chemicals become a desert of green, providing no habitat for essential insects, and become a death trap for bees and butterflies. Our life on this planet requires pollinators: observe, preserve and encourage them. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free seed starting containers

Although our family did not have a television set until I was 11 years old, I remember  watching Captain Kangaroo.  A regular feature of the show was a demonstration of how to use found objects to create something useful or artistic.  Whenever I see discarded items I always try to think of another way to use the trash, rather than add it to the dump. 
Gardening provides wonderful opportunities for reuse of discarded containers.  This picture has summer savory in a foam egg tray, dill in half an orange juice jug, shallots in a clear plastic box with vent holes that held strawberries, scented geranium cuttings in plastic cups and parsley in foam coffee cups.  All these containers were washed out and those without drainage had holes punched in the bottom.
After the plants have been transplanted to the garden the containers marked for recycling will be washed again and added to the bin for Wednesday’s pick up.  If not, they will finally be added to the trash heap.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Please check back soon as the Rosemary will be posting more frequently in the future.