Rocky Fork Enterprise

Herb Harvest Day grows with new offerings, Herbal Trail

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The Ohio Herb Education Center's Wendy Winkler explains how to dry herbs during Herb Harvest Day on Oct. 13 at the OHEC.

Gahanna's Oct. 13 Herb Harvest Day reaped a cornucopia of offerings, from a new seasonal-plant sale by the Ohio Herb Education Center to educational workshops.

Luke Messinger, executive director of the Dawes Arboretum in Jacksontown, offered tips to incorporate herbs into the landscape.

Messinger, a Gahanna resident, said the city has a wide diversity of soils, and a key component to healthy herbs is soil preparation.

"I'm the common person's guide to a herb garden," he said. "In my opinion, one of the easiest herbs to grow is basil. My wife and I have basil growing in containers. All those plants (for sale from the OHEC) can be grown in sunny spots in your house over the winter. Basil is (among) the easiest to grow, even if you just use it for pesto."

Messinger said sage is one of his favorites, and it's probably easier to grow than basil.

"I have so much of it that I could probably have Thanksgiving every day," he said. "I'll grab a bunch of it and throw it on the grill. It gives a nice aromatic smell."

He said he recommends that gardeners grow herbs that complement what they like to eat.

Messinger said the most common mistake people make is in overwatering herbs.

In addition to Messinger, nationally known garden designer, author and lecturer Debra Knapke provided advice on "enhancing your life with herbs."

The OHEC's own Wendy Winkler educated guests about the herb society, how to dry herbs and how to grow herbs indoors.

"One of the most popular questions has been what to do with basil," she said.

Winker distributed a recipe for a basic pesto using basil, nuts, garlic and olive oil.

Volunteers at the OHEC dished out free samples of autumn pumpkin-spice soup, herbal mint brownies and lemon thyme bars.

Gahanna's Bonnie Ross Coleman was one of many vendors at Creekside. Her home business, Natures Moisture, touts all-natural products.

"When my grandson was born, he had dry skin," she said. "I took a course on herbs and started making my own lotions. We live in such a toxic society. I say if you can't eat it, don't put it on your body."

She said one of her favorite moisturizers contains cocoa butter because it helps regenerate the skin.

"It's great for aging skin," Coleman said.

After the herbal vendors wrapped up business Saturday afternoon, Herbal Trail activities began with a Soup & Sizzle cook-off at the historic Ridenour House and gardens.

Jane "Bunnie" Geroux, retired director of OHEC, helped judge five entries.

The winning entry was called "Mother's Cure-all Soup," by Edie Hall, who said the chicken-vegetable soup has been in her family for more than 100 years. Second place went to Gail Bush for her escarole soup.

Various businesses along the Herbal Trail also offered specials throughout the day.

For more information about OHEC workshops, go online to or call 614-342-4380.

For more information about the Herbal Trail, go to or call the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau at 614-418-9114 or 1-866-GAHANNA.