This past week I’ve been having fun with herbs. Whether you cook, clean, cure or craft with them, they are truly handy plants to have. As a gardening advocate, I think everyone should have at least a couple of things they love to grow – whether it’s vegetables, fruits, flowers or herbs. With herbs, you can plant in something as small as a six inch container and put it on your windowsill, or mix and match them with your flowers and vegetables.
Herbs are some of the most versatile plants, as they have many uses. For thousands of years, herbs have been used for medicines. In fact, many of the drugs we have today have a foundation in the simple herb. Although almost all herbs have a medicinal purpose, there are some that don’t. Before you grow anything that you plan to use as a curative, make sure you not only do your research, but check with your physician and/or an expert on how to use them properly. Some herbs can be used fresh or dried for this purpose, but some require turning it into a tincture or an oil. Please – use herbs wisely and safely!
They are also some of the most friendly plants, and work diligently to assist others. Basil, for instance, helps repel pests on your tomatoes and asparagus. Thyme helps repel the cabbage worm and works well anywhere in your garden. Peppermint helps to drive ants away from your shrubs, and oregano actually loves broccoli. Borage provides great doses of calcium, potassium and other minerals and does well if planted next to strawberries. Bees also love to forage on borage, so it makes a win/win situation!
Culinary herbs, as we well know, help enhance everything from eggs, soups, stews, pastas, breads and desserts. If grown close to the back door, it only takes a few steps to harvest enough for tonight’s meal, or to bake a fresh loaf of bread for a neighbor. When using fresh herbs, make sure you wash and dry them off before chopping, and you almost always use up to two and three times more than you would if they were dried.
Lavender is an herb you can do all your C’s with – (cook, clean, cure and craft). Although I’ve never tried a lavender shortbread, I’ve heard it is delicious. I love adding lavender oil to my laundry detergent, and even have a window cleaner that contains lavender. Need to relieve stress and get a better night’s sleep? Try a lavender sachet under your pillow. If safely sewn inside a stuffed animal, lavender also works to help your child sleep better. And there is nothing better to me than a bar of lavender soap or a bowl full of lavender potpourri.
With the vast versatility of herbs, what reason could you possibly have not to grow at least a few? Even those who claim to have a black thumb can grow and harvest some of the easier ones. So why not get an herb garden started, or at the very least, plant some in your flower bed or vegetable garden. When it comes time to use them, you will certainly be glad you did!