If you are a seasoned gardener, you already know the wonderful benefits the vegetables in your garden give you. The tasty treats for dinner, the good for your body vitamins and minerals, the calming of the soul as you stare at your garden, see it burst into bloom, then see the fruit ripen. Then there is the benefit to the pocket book as you don’t have to go to the store as often, and the fun of finding new ways to cook all the produce. The more I learn about gardening the more I learn how those plants can help my body.
A wonderful addition to a vegetable garden is an herb garden. A kitchen herb garden is one of the most useful gardens you can grow. Most herbs require little in the way of maintenance, and you can grow a generous supply in a surprisingly small space. Select a small patch of your yard or find a spot for a grouping of containers as close as possible to your kitchen door—choose a spot that gets at least a half day of full sun. As you plan, consider the times you will dash out to grab a handful of chives or basil when it’s raining or something on the stove needs your attention; having your herbs within easy reach can make a big difference.
There are so many ways to use herbs and have you priced them lately? Herbs are one of the “biggest bang for the buck” things you can grow. That’s one of the reasons why most of us don’t use as many herbs as maybe we should. Besides, when we grow them in our own yard we know how they are grown and the fresher they will be.
Your first kitchen herb garden will be successful if you start simply. Fill your garden with some of your tried-and-true favorites. Start small, and you’re sure to be delighted by the fantastic flavors of your homegrown herbs. Your first herb garden can be a tiny plot of ground, a few pots on the back deck or tuck them in your vegetable garden. Start with one variety and learn all you can about it. What it needs to grow, how to cook with it, how it benefits your body. Can your animals benefit from it as well? Then begin again with a new herb.
Food just tastes better with a few herbs sprinkled on or in. You could try adding lemon thyme to fish or mint to your tea and spaghetti sauce would just not be the same without basil and oregano. There’s a whole new world out there when you add fresh herbs to your cooking.
I once had someone tell me, for good nutrition I should eat the parsley on my plate and throw the rest away. Well that’s a bit drastic, but they are right that parsley does pack a big punch of nutrition, as do a lot of herbs. That’s why a little mixed into your food can add so much to the nutrition on your plate. If you have a variety of herbs everyday you will fill in the nutritional holes and make your body more resistant to disease so you will be less likely to need as much medicine.
Did you know that at least 25% of today’s medicines are derived from plants. Such as, the oregano on your back porch has antibiotic properties and the mint in your front flower garden makes a great tea to calm your stomach. And the aloe vera that you have as a house plant is wonderful for that finger you just burned. Aspirin was derived from the willow and the Madagascar periwinkle is the source of drugs used to treat Hodgkin disease and acute leukemia. The drug for treating Hodgkin’s disease has increased patients’ chances of survival from one-in-five to nine-in-ten!
Do herbs fix everything? No, of course not. If you have a ruptured appendix, a surgeon is exactly what you need and quick. Even veterinarian/herbalist Dr. Patrick Jones from Homegrown Herbalist.net says that “scalpels are organic”. (he cracks me up) But that being said, there are many things you don ‘t need to rush off to the doctor for. If you have an herb garden you may be growing the cure right outside your kitchen door.
What a great way to give great nutrition and disease resistance to your animals. When you grow herbs yourself you will be more likely to feed herbs to your chickens or ducks. Herbs are helpful to your animals because they will be able to ward off disease better and the eggs they produce will have much higher nutritional values for you. Sounds like a great trade off to me. You can also put herbs in their nest boxes some of which keep pests away.
If you use fresh herbs for cooking or medicine you already know how expensive they are. And it just kills me to throw away half a batch of herbs that I just spent a fortune for, just because I don’t need the whole bunch. When you grow it yourself, it’s ready when you want it and you can take just what you need.
First, start with one herb, one you already like and learn all you can about that herb. Learn how to cook with it, what it’s nutritional/medicinal properties are and how it is used. Learn if it is an annual or a perennial and in what conditions it likes to grow. There are a lot of plants I would love, but they just won’t grow well where I live, so I need to concentrate on plants that do well here. Your list of plants may be quite different than mine, but we may overlap on many.
Then after you have learned all there is about that one herb, learn another. And so your herb garden will begin.
Now Have A Ducky Day!