Grow Your Own Herbs
Herbs make a wonderful addition to your home garden. But did you know that they can also make you more self sufficient? Self sufficiency is, obviously, the act of providing for yourself. By growing your own foods, you are reducing your reliance on big growers and grocery stores to do it for you, at a premium price. Planting herbs in your garden allows you to control what is sprayed on them. You will never find fresher herbs than the ones you harvest and chop straight into your salad or dinner. The fresher your food is, the more nutrients it contains, so growing your own is healthier for you too!
Fresh or Dried
Growing your own herbs provides fresh flavor for your food all summer long. The more you use your own homegrown, organic herbs, the fewer little glass jars you need to purchase from the spice section at the grocery store. Harvesting your fresh herbs and drying them in a cool, dark place allows you to stash some away for the winter when you crave the fresh summer flavors. Why not harvest extra and make your own little herbal gift kits for your friends and family? They will love that you thought of them, and they will savor the homegrown goodness! Not to mention the money you can save on gifts.
We all know that herbs are a wonderful addition to our food. They make everything taste better and reduce the amount of salt we sprinkle on our plate. You can also harvest many herbs to make your own home remedies for common ailments.
Some of the most common herbal remedies are:
Chamomile – promotes sleep and relieves anxiety and muscle pains
Lavender – helps relieve tension and headaches, calming
Echinacea – helps boost immune system
Ginseng – provides a natural energy boost
Calendula – topical antibiotic
Cayenne Pepper – improves blood circulation, helps relieve congestion and aid digestion
Comfrey – used topically to aid healing of small wounds
These are just a few herbal remedies that might be of use to you. Before using any of these remedies, you should discuss their use with your doctor. If conditions persist or get worse, go see your doctor. For more information about home remedies, I like reading this page.
Plant Once, Harvest for Years to Come
Many herbs are perennials that you only need to plant once. They are usually quite hardy and will happily co-exist with the ornamentals in your flower garden. My favorites are sage, thyme (lemon thyme is very nice), oregano, chives, rosemary (plant in a pot and bring indoors in northern climates), and marjoram.
Take the time to prepare their new beds thoroughly for best results. Loosen the soil and remove all weeds and roots. Add some compost for good measure and plant seeds or little potted plants from the nursery. You can also start your own indoors under lights and move to the garden when all danger of frost is past.
Some herbs will benefit from a bit of rejuvenation each year. Sage should be trimmed back a bit to keep it in bounds, if you wish. You can also let it flop and the branches will root and form new plants. Older plants will occasionally die back in hard winters, so mulching with leaves may be a good idea. Oregano, thyme, and marjoram will spread out and tend to die in the center, so transplanting sections will help keep it neat looking.
Herbs like basil, calendula (a flower, but used as a medicinal herb), cilantro, and parsley are annuals and will need to be planted every spring in areas with cold winters. It is easy to save seed from some of these, and save some green for your pocketbook too. Parsley is actually a biennial but seldom survives the hard winters in my area, so I’ve never collected the seed.
Be sure to dry the seeds from your herbs and store in a cool dry place. Label the packets with calligraphy and hand drawn pictures to add to those herbal gift kits we talked about earlier. Saving your own seed allows you to select plants that do better in your growing conditions. It’s also a great project to do with your kids.
Potted Up on the Windowsill
Why not pot up a few little herbs to grow in your window for the winter? They will make a welcome addition to soups and salads at a time of year when herbs are a real treat. You may want to start some new ones after a month or so if you use them a lot. They go pretty fast when you start clipping them everyday!
So why not plant your own herbs this year? You will enjoy the freshest flavors in your cooking and save some green while you’re at it. 🙂