By Maria Lailani “Lanie” Espiritu

Herbs add dash of color and flavor to the food and reduce the salt needed for seasoning. They also contribute to its nutritional value in the form of minerals and vitamins.

The fragrant evergreen herb of rosemary is a powerful natural remedy for soothing indigestion, neutralizing bad breath, and relieving pain. Use rosemary oil or herb-infused water to clear up dandruff, promote hair growth, and help clear the mind, quit anxiety, and relieve everyday stress.

Don’t you know that rosemary herb can be added fresh or dried to fish, chicken, and sautéed mushroom? Well, one of my favorite recipes is roast chicken with rosemary herb. When I bought my new oven, the first recipe I cooked was roast chicken. Here’s how to do it:

Rosemary chicken.

• First, season chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff with lemon grass, quartered-cut onion, salt and pepper, ginger, and rosemary. Marinate overnight.

• Next step is to preheat oven to 350OF (175OC) the following day–just as you are about to cook the marinated chicken.

• Roast in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and the juices run clear. Cooking time will vary depending on the weight of the chicken.

Benefits of growing rosemary plants from stem cuttings 

Instead of purchasing a new rosemary plant every year or starting new plants from seeds, you can grow your own rosemary herb from stem cuttings. Here are some ways to do it:

1. Select new shoots from the mother plant. Choose healthy stems and which is freshly grown. Avoid woody stem cuttings.

2. Use sharp scissors to take cuttings about 6-7 inches back from a fresh growing tip. Cut plenty of extra stems–some may fail to grow roots, anyway.

3. Gently strip off the lower leaves (about 2 inches from stem cutting) with your finger.

4. Place cuttings in water or in pot with either a potting soil, cactus potting soil, or sandy soil mix. Drain well. Plant the stem cuttings and cover them with recycled plastic bottle or ziplock bag tied with a rubber band. Sprinkle the newly-planted cuttings with water and place them in a warm area, away from direct sunlight.

Depending on the temperature, the rosemary stem cuttings should then grow roots after a few weeks (although it can take longer in cold temperatures). After 4 to 8 weeks, it should already be evident if the rosemary cuttings have survived. The cuttings that do not survive will turn brown and will shed needles. However, for the remaining cuttings that were able to survive, give them more time to let the new plants emerge before harvesting; it should be done once the plant becomes 7 inches tall. Cut the stem as needed. New growth will continue to form on the stem. Rosemary grows slowly so don’t harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at one time.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s October 2018 issue.