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? By growing your own food, you are reducing your reliance on the grocery store.
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 all summer long. 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. Plus, you can save some money gifts.
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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 the 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
Oregano – has antibiotic properties
Peppermint – invigorating, aids digestion
These are just a few herbal remedies that might be of use to you. This information is not intended for treating medical conditions. Please see a medical professional if you are sick or injured.
Make Your Own Herbal Tea
Many herbs can be combined to make herbal teas that taste wonderful hot or iced. Lavender, peppermint, chamomile, echinacea, pineapple sage, lemon balm, and bee balm (another flower) all make a tasty tea. Try combining herbs and edible flowers to make new flavors. Dry herbs and store for making your own tea all year, or give herbal teas as gifts in fancy tins.
With a bit of research, you can even create your own medicinal teas for sore throats, sleeplessness, indigestion, and other minor maladies.
Other Herbal Products
Your homegrown herbs may also be used in herbed cheeses and butter, infused oils and vinegar, herbal salts, bath and body products, salves, cough syrup, insect repellents, and rubs for meat, poultry, and fish. Use your imagination, read up a bit, and soon you’ll find a ton of other uses for herbs around your homestead.
Planting Perennial Herbs – Plant Once!
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. Add some compost and plant seeds or potted plants started indoors under lights.
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.
Planting Annuals – Try New Herbs!
Herbs like basil, calendula (a flower, but used as a medicinal herb), dill, and cilantro are annuals and will need to be planted every spring in areas with cold winters. Try planting different flavors of basil and new colors of calendula each year for variety. It is easy to save seed from some of these, and save some green for your pocketbook too.
Be sure to dry the seeds from your herbs and store in a cool dry place. Label the packets with calligraphy and hand drew pictures and 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 for kids.
Pot Up Some Herbs for Your 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 fresh herbs are a real treat (and really pricey at the store). 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 every day!
So why not plant your own herbs this year? You will enjoy the freshest flavor in your cooking and save some green while you’re at it. 🙂
Do you grow herbs? How do you use them for self-sufficiency? Leave a comment!