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Primary Herb Garden Activity

Herb Activity Sheet

Making a lavender bag
You will need

A fine net of about 20x20cm

A tea plate

A pair of scissors

A round-ended needle with a large eye

About 30cm of embroidery thread or similar

A short length of narrow silk ribbon.

What you do

1. Strip the dried heads

To prepare the lavender

Pick about 20 stems of lavender on a warm

sunny day. The middle of the morning is
best, when the sun has dried the dew.

Arrange them carefully on a wire tray to dry.

A cake cooling tray is ideal. Make sure the
flower heads and stems do not touch each

Place on a sheet of paper in an airing

cupboard. Leave for about 1 week.

To make the bag

Follow these steps and the pictures on the right.
1. Strip the dried heads carefully from the
2. Cut a circle of net using a tea plate as a

2. Cut a circle of net

3. Cut 30cm of embroidery silk or similar.
Thread a round-headed needle with a large
eye. Use a running stitch. Sew the thread
approximately 2 cm from the edge of the net
circle. As you sew, ease the thread carefully.
Take care not to pull too hard. It may tear the

3. Sew around the edge

4. Draw up the thread to form a bag, leaving a

gap at the neck. Put 2 teaspoons of lavender
heads inside the bag. Pull the thread tight and
knot together with a reef knot. (Click here to
find out how to tie a reef knot).
5. Tie top with ribbon, using bow.
Make as many bags as you have lavender heads for.


Place in your clothes drawers and cupboards

to make your clothes smell nice and to keep
moths away

Or, if you think you might like a lavender

bath, hang the bag over the hot tap while you
run the water.

4. Draw up thread to make bag

5. Tie end with ribbon

Herb Activity Sheet

Cooking with herbs

Herbs add interest and flavour to cooking. A few

leaves of herbs added to soups, stews and sauces
make all the difference!
Why not try the following?

Bouquet Garni
Use either fresh or dried herbs.

Tie together the stalks of a fresh sprig of

parsley, thyme, marjoram and a bay leaf and
drop into your soup stew or sauce while

Bouquet garni

Or tie the dried herbs into piece of muslin so

that they can be easily removed before

Fines Herbes
This is a mixture of equal quantities of chopped
fresh parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon.

Add it when making an omlette or scrambled


Sprinkle it over cooked carrots, haricot or

butter beans.

Include it in a green salad.

Preparing fines herbes.

Parsley, chives and tarragon shown

If you don't have all the above herbs, just use some.

Herb Butter
Chop herbs such as sage, parsley, thyme and mint.

Mix into softened butter to make a savoury


Or add some lemon juice, salt and pepper to

serve with fish or grilled meat.

Herb Vinegar

Sage butter

Fill a screw-top jar with freshly gathered,

young, clean, dry leaves.

Fill to the top with good malt vinegar.

Replace the lid and leave for about three

You will need to shake the jar regularly

during this time to mix everything together.

Strain and rebottle in a clean jar, preferably a

vinegar bottle for easy pouring.

Find out how to make tarragon vinegar.

Herb Tea

Put a few leaves of fresh thyme, sage, lemon

balm, mint or a Lavender flower head in a

Pour on boiling water and cover with a


Leave for about 3-4 minutes (when it is

cool), then strain it before drinking it.

Mint tea

Lavender and lemon biscuit

You can make a tasty biscuit containing
lavender. Click here to find a recipe that you can try
with the help of an adult.

Lavender and lemon biscuit

Drying and preserving herbs

Keen young chefs

Try these activities out for yourselves!

Drying lavender
1. Pick the Lavender heads when they are
closed and the top florets have just burst.
This gives you the strongest perfume because
it contains the highest concentration of oils.
2. Spread the complete flower head on a tray to
dry either in an airing cupboard or under the
bed. Turn the flowers often to make sure that
all parts of properly dry.
3. You can use either the complete flower
heads, or strip the separate flower heads from
the stems.

Various herbs drying on rack

Use them in pot-pourris or small bags made from

cotton material. See Activity sheets 5 and 6.

Other herbs may be dried a similar way.

1. Bunches of herbs can be picked on a dry day,
preferably in the morning, after the dew has
gone, but before the sun gets too hot. Tie
them together at their stems and hung upside
down to dry.
2. Find an airy, dust-free place out of the sun.
An airing cupboard is ideal. This is important
as the sun will bleach the colour, smell and
flavour from the herbs. Leave until they are
brittle enough to break easily between your
fingers - about one week.
you can spread them on a tray or shelf
between sheets of newspaper or muslin.
Remember to turn them daily to allow the air
to dry them properly.
if the air is dry and out of direct sunlight,
leave them where you hung them to let their
perfumes scent a room.

Herbs used in cooking

Leaves of herbs for cooking can be arranged

Mixed bunch of herbs prepared for

hanging to dry

separately on a drying rack and turned regularly.

Drying roots
Roots of some herbs can also be dried.
1. Liquorice, horseradish and marshmallow,
need to have their skin peeled first.
leave the skin on the root of others such as
angelica and dandelion.
2. Cut the roots into 1cm slices and dry in the
same way as the flowers. It takes roots
longer to dry (often several weeks).
To dry them more quickly, place in a warm
oven until the slices are light and brittle.
3. Pack them in an airtight tin or a dark glass
jar. (pictures)

Freezing herbs

You can store dried herbs in an airtight jar. Be sure to label the jar so
you don't forget forget what is in

Place some mixed herb leaves inside a small plastic

bag, seal and put in the freezer compartment of a
Or, place leaves of borage flowers in water in ice
cube trays and freeze them.
Although frozen herbs lose some of their flavour,
they are ready to use when required.

Other activities
Now that you can dry herbs, you can make dried
herbs all year round.
Look at other Activity sheets to find uses for dried
Find out

How people dried herbs in the past

How dried herbs are used now

Mixed herbs that had been put in a

small plastic bag before being put in
the freezer. They are now crumbly
and ready to use.

How many different dried herbs are sold in

your local supermarket

Where herbs come from

What other uses for herbs are

Dried fennel in a paper bag.

What is a pot-pourri?
A pot-pourri is a mixture of dried herbs, which
smells good and looks pretty. It is an ornament and
air-freshener all in one. It is usually placed around
the house in attractive jars or bowls.
The word 'pot-pourri' comes from the French
meaning 'rotten pot'. In Medieval times people made
a moist pot-pourri from fresh herbs. Today we
usually use dried herbs.

Making a pot-pourri
First collect some containers

You can use bowls, jars and small baskets. Or

you could decorate some yoghurt pots or
small cardboard boxes.

Some containers have holes in the sides to let

the fragrances out.

Some have lids to keep the scent in when the

room is not being used.

Collect a mixture of different ingredients

Use dried leaves, flowers, bark, seeds or


Choose ingredients that have interesting

Selection of drying plants and leaves

to use in a pot-pourri

colours, shapes, textures or even sounds,

when you run your fingers through them!

Choose herbs and spices that smell nice


Stir them together

Mix in a bowl using your hands.

Check your results. Do you need to add

more of anything?

Go to next step when the mixture is just as

you want it.

A completed pot-pourri mixture in a


Place in containers

Place it carefully in your container.

Arrange some of the interesting ingredients

by shape and colour.

Cover it with clingfilm to stop it spilling if

you are carrying it home from school.

Some ideas for pot-pourri ingredients

Leaves - mint, lemon balm, sage, thyme,

rosemary, marjoram.

Flowers - lavender, rose, geranium,

nasturtium, pansy, primrose, polyanthus,
violet, pot marigold (calendula) sunflower
petals, lilac, heather. Click to see note on
drying flowers.

Fruits - dried orange, lime, or lemon peel,

dried hawthorn berries.

Spices - cinnamon sticks, whole nutmegs,

cardamom pods.

The Elizabethans liked pot-pourris to ward of bad

A selection of bowls and baskets you

could use for your pot-pourri

smells and germs.

The Romans used scented herbs in their homes.
They usually used the strewing method. They
strewed (covered) the floors of their homes with
different sweet smelling herbs, which also repelled
insects. They also had under floor heating. This
warmth made the beautiful perfumes smell stronger.
Each morning the strewing herbs on the floors were
swept up and used to light the fire. New fresh herbs
were then laid down. Oregano was part of the
mixture because it kept away ants, mice and rats,
especially in the kitchen area.
Check out our History page to learn more.

Spices like cinnamon sticks,

cardamom pods and whole nutmeg
may be used in pot-pourris

Making a tussie mussie

A tussie mussie was a posy of flowers and herbs

carried by people in Medieval and Tudor times to
hide bad smells. They were also thought to protect
people form disease - particularly the plague.

Step 1

Step 2

Tussie mussies both look nice and smell nice.

Before you start

You will need

A variety of herbs and flowers

Some fine string

A length of ribbon

Step 1
Start with a sweet smelling flower of your choice.

Step 2
Add round it some lavender.

Step 3
Now add some rosemary.

Step 4
What about adding some other herb? Try lemon

Step 3

balm or mint perhaps.

Step 5
Tie with some fine string and finish with a piece of

Herbs you can use

Of course, you don't have to use the herbs and
flowers just described. You can use anything safe
which smells and looks nice. Here is a list of
possible herbs to use

Step 4



Lemon Balm






Clove Carnations



Lily Of The Valley

Scented Geranium Leaves


Marigold Flowers

Step 5
The completed tussie mussie


Cotton Lavender


Lemon Verbena


Bay Leaves

Pomanders are perfumed balls usually made from an
From medieval times right up to the 18th century,
they were carried, worn or hung in rooms against
"foule, stinkying aire".

Step 2. Use the tape to divide the

surface of the the orange into four
equal parts
Henry V carried a musk (a pungent, sweet perfume)
ball of gold.
In the court of Queen Elizabeth I, pomanders were
worn in bejewelled gold and silver containers.
Today they can be bought in the form of perforated
pottery balls to hang in wardrobes or bedrooms.

Before you start, you will need

1 medium or large orange

About 1 oz (25g) cloves

1 teaspoon of orris root powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

A length of ribbon and a similar length of


A few pins and a cocktail stick

A paper bag or tissue paper

Step 3. Pierce the skin of the orange

with the cocktail stick and set in the

Orris root is available from Health Food shops

Step 1
Gently knead the orange in your hands to soften the
Step 2
Use the tape to divide the surface of the the orange
into four equal parts and pin the tape in place. Later,
the ribbon will go where you have put the tape.
Step 3
Pierce the skin of the orange with the cocktail stick
and set in the cloves, either in a pattern or to
completely cover the orange.
Step 4
Mix the orris root powder and ground cinnamon and
put in a paper bag or on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Roll the orange in these spices.
Step 5

Step 4. Mix the orris root powder

and ground cinnamon and roll the
orange in these spices.

Wrap the orange in tissue paper or leave in the paper

bag and store for a few days in a dry, warm place.
An airing cupboard is ideal. Leave until the skin
under the tape is dry.
Step 6
When dry, remove the tape and decorate with the
ribbon and with a bow.

Finally, decorate with the ribbon and

with a bow.

Growing Herbs From Seeds

Seeds can be grown directly into the ground, but

they can also be started in trays and pots using

Seeds used
basil, marjoram, garlic chives and rocket.


Seed compost (preferably peat-free compost)

Seed trays or pots of about 8cm diameter)

What you do
1. Almost fill the tray/pots with damp compost
2. Using a rounded-end spatula, sprinkle a few
seeds thinly over the compost

Seed pots

3. Cover with a thin layer of compost

4. Water sparingly
5. Place in a warm, light place (on a window
sill or in a conservatory) and wait for the
seedlings to appear. This should take
between 2 -5 days, depending on conditions
6. Water regularly to keep the compost damp
7. Turn the pots/trays regularly when the
seedlings appear.
Do you know why you need to do this?

Seed trays

8. When the seedlings are big enough, prick out

the young seedlings.
("Prick out" means lift out the seedlings
carefully and plant them in another, perhaps
bigger, pot or tray where they will have more
room to grow.) You can prick them out into
your garden.
How can you tell when the seeds are big

Growing seeds in different conditions

All green plants need





Seed Trays planted and labeled

Can you think of an experiment to test this?

Clue: suppose you excluded one of the things
mentioned above.
Then Test Condition 1 might be

Light - no

Water - yes

Seed trays and pots planted

Soil - yes

Heat - yes

Think about

How long your test will last

How you will make sure it is a fair test

What you notice when the seeds begin to


When you prick out the young plants, what

you notice about the seedling

Counting how many seedlings germinated

(grew into plants)

Estimating the number of seeds that did not

germinate (the seed packet might give you a
clue how to do this)

Writing down your observations

Using a table to record your findings

Doing some reading to find out why a plant

needs leaves and roots

Writing a report on what you did, using your

observations. Include your table of results
and any drawings you make.

So you like writing stories and poems?

Rosie and Nick like writing stories and poems - I
expect you do too.
Well then, you'd probably like to use your
imagination and make up a short story, or a poem,
about a herb.

Seeds germinated between 2 to 5


Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.

It may be one about how the herb got its name.
Look at the Fact Sheet on Tarragon. Its Latin name
is Artemisia dracunculus. You will see 'dracunculus'
means little dragon. Now there's an interesting story
to write. How did it get that name?
Use your imagination and write the story.
Or, another idea may come to you if you look at the
Fact Sheet on Lavender, or the History of Herbs web
There you will find a lot of ideas for short stories.
For example, you might like to write a story about
how Zeus changed the birds into Lavender. Or a
story about Elizabeth I and lavender jam ('conserve',
as it was called then).

'Dracunculus' means little dragon.

The Latin name for tarragon
is Artemisia dracunculus
This would make a good story.

You may need to do some research for your story to

find out what the difference between 'jam' and
'conserve' is.
Another idea is to write a mystery story. It might be
that the mystery can only be solved by working out
the names of herbs. But you will have your own
ideas, I'm sure.
Or, if you are studying The Tudors at school, you
will learn that herbs were used a lot in Tudor times.
Go to the History of Herbs page and use some ideas
from there. For example, you could write a romantic
story about a kitchen maid and a stable lad who got
I'm sure you will have lots of good ideas yourselves.
Send us your story and we can put it on the website
for other children to read. Send it to

The Herb Society

What about a story telling how

Queen Elizabeth I liked lavender

Sulgrave Manor
OX17 2SD

Or go to our contact page to find out how to email us

but do ask an adult if you can email it to Rosie or

Or write a detective story about


You do not need a spare plot of ground at your

school to make a herb garden. You can easily grow
herbs in containers. However, they do require a
little more care and attention.

Choosing your container

Almost any container is suitable provided it has:

drainage holes

a wide base to prevent it falling over

it is big enough and suitable for the plant

Some herbs can be grown in hanging baskets, but

you must prepare the basket well and choose the site
to hang it carefully. Hanging baskets do not like full
sun all day or high winds. As herbs grow quickly
they can become root-bound and dry out. The herb
must also be picked regularly to stop it straggling.

Preparing the container

Place gravel or broken pots in the

bottom of the container to prevents
the holes from getting blocked with

Which compost?
The best compost for growing herbs is John Innes
No. 3 because it is soil based and contains longerlasting nutrients. This means less feeding. It also
holds moisture well. If it does dry out, it absorbs
water quickly. However, take care not to overwater!
John Innes No. 2 will also do. The higher the
number, the more added nutrients. Use different
compost for hanging baskets because John Innes
composts are too heavy for them

Fill the container to three-quarters

full with compost

See below for different kinds of compost.

Filling and planting

Wash any pots that have been used before.

Check the drainage holes. Are there enough?
Are they unclogged?

Place gravel or broken pots in the bottom.

This prevents the holes from filling with soil

Fill the container three-quarters full with


Remove the herb very carefully from its pot.

If the soil is moist, it will tap out when
turned upside down. Be careful not to disturb
the roots.

Place plant in the centre of the container and

add more compost around it until the plant is
able to stand upright without support.

Gently firm the soil around the plant, adding

more compost, leaving a 2-3cm rim.

Water the plant well

Here is a finished pot with rosemary.

It is a good idea to put gravel or
wood chips on the top of the
compost to hold in the moisture and
stop weeds.

Hanging baskets need to be lined with sphagnum

moss and a layer of black plastic with drainage holes
cut in it.

Half fill with compost and arrange the herbs

carefully. Put 3-4 trailing herbs at the edge

Arrange your pots into nice

and 1-2 upright ones in the centre. Take care

not put in too many as they spread and grow

Fill to the top with compost and water well.

Allow it to drain before hanging it in a

suitable position that is not too high - it must
be watered frequently in dry hot weather sometimes twice a day!


Caring for your container herbs


Water regularly - do not let the pots dry out

Move out of the noonday sun

Dead-head any flowers (or pick them for


Feed weekly, preferably with an organic

liquid feed (seaweed)

Cut off any pest damaged leaves

You can put a few different herbs in

a big pot. This one has rosemary,
bay, tarragon and flat-leaf parsley.


Cut back perennial herbs (these grow year

after year)

Weed and feed the containers, after removing

the top few centimetres of soil

Bring indoors (or put in a cold greenhouse)

any tender plants before the first frost

Do not water so often


It is best to put all container-herbs in doors,

or at least cover them to protect them for
severe weather

Rosie asks, "Can you identify the

herbs in the pot below?
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Then see how many herbs you can
name. Use the Fact sheets on this
web site to help identify each herb.

Minimum watering only

some herbs may need re-potting. You can usually tell
if their roots are spreading from the bottom of the

Use the next size up

Carefully remove the herb from the old pot

Remove dead leaves and prune the straggly

shoots and cut the growing tip of perennial
herbs - this encourages bushy growth

Replant after preparing the container as


Water well

Begin feeding when new shoots appear

Different types of compost

Multipurpose Potting compost

Widely available, light, clean and easy to


Needs frequent watering and feeding.

Do not let it dry out as it does not take up

water well.

Peat-free composts

Coir - made form the fibers found between

the husk and the outer shell of a coconuts

Composted tree bark

Further reading:
Jekka McVicar, Jekka's Complete herb book, Kyle
Cathie Ltd, 1994

Bag of compost
Peat-based composts should be
avoided. We are running out of
supplies of peat because of over use.

Herb puzzles
Try your hand at the following puzzles. You will find it easier if you print the page

Sort the letters to find the names of the herbs
5 . C PAE L ME E A N


Solution to anagrams.

Word Search

Find the following herbs in the above letter grid by reading across, down or




Solution to word search.


1 Melissa or lemon ____ (4)
6 This spice comes in quills from the inner bark of a tree and is used to flavour
cakes, biscuits, curries and chutney (8)
9 Used in curries and is one of the oldest herbs. Its seeds were found in Egyptian
11 Used to flavour sweets and toothpaste (10)
12 Mainly used to flavour ice cream and chocolate (7)
1 A leaf from this tree goes into a bouquet garni (3)
2 Has the same name a a medieval staff with a metal spike (4)
3 Used in sauce to go with roast lamb (4)
4 Julius Caesar found the natives of Britain stained with this (4)
5 A yellow flower with four petals, used in herbal medicine and for treatment of
stomach upsets (9)
7 This little known herb used to be grown in kitchen gardens. The roots and leaves
were eaten (7)
8 Our feline friends love this 3 (7)
9 Small unopened buds usually pickled in vinegar . They are also found in tartare
sauce (6)
10 Shakespeare called this the herb o'grace o'Sundays (3)

Solution to crossword

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Copyright of The Herb Society, 2006 - 2008



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Word Search

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Copyright of The Herb Society, 2006 - 2008