Growing a Herb Garden

When we started our backyard home garden, we had a raised bed garden designated for herbs only. We chose to plant our favorite herbs that we usually use in our cooking such as sage, rosemary, sweet basil, mint, and thyme. We love using fresh herbs that will add fabulous flavor to home-prepared meals.

If you’re just starting a herbs garden, or if your garden space is limited, you’ll probably want to stick with basic culinary herbs. Homegrown herbs straight from the garden offer the freshest of flavors – something you just can’t get from store-bought herbs. It gets so expensive also when buying from the store. It’s easy to dry herbs at home, their savory flavors will remain to add a taste of summer to midwinter meals.

Some of the most dependable herbs for cooking we have in our home garden includes basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint and cilantro. One tip for herbal cooking I know is, fresh and dried homegrown herbs are interchangeable in most recipes. Most herbs don’t require cooking, you can add them just before serving. For the freshest flavor, simply add a pinch of herbs to each plate at serving time. I love to put fresh mint leaf on my tea.

Herbs are also a traditional ingredient in many home remedies. Grow herbs like chamomile and mint to brew teas that help relieve stress. Add slices of fresh ginger root, or fresh fennel seeds to the tea to calm an upset stomach. Or substitute horehound or hyssop leaves, and a little honey, to soothe sore throats.

Back home in the Philippines, every home garden has herbs for cooking and medicinal use, mixed together in a garden plot. If you decide to grow and use herbs for medicinal purposes, keep these important safety tips in mind.

– Make sure each plant is correctly identified before using it for medicine.

– Limit daily use to 3 tablespoons of dried or 9 tablespoons of fresh herbs.

– Don’t mix herbal remedies with medicinal prescriptions.

Most herbs have dual purposes or even more, cooking, medicinal, or for crafts. Versatile herbs like mint and sage are tasty in tea and pretty in potpourri. I have used lots of herb arrangements for our daughter’s teacher appreciation day and it was a great success.

Making craft projects with herbs is a creative and delightful way to bring your garden indoors. You can work with fresh and dried herbs to make wreaths, potpourris, and fragrant oils. The uses are really only limited by your imagination!

Many common herbs are great for craft projects. Instead of a ribbon bow for instance, add small bunches of dried leafy herbs like thyme and sage to wreaths or gift wrapping. Braid fresh garlic heads together with bunches of herbs then hang them to dry in the kitchen. Later, use scissors to cut away the bulbs or dried herbs as needed. Create a personalized potpourri by mixing together your favorite dried herbs, flowers, and spices. Mint, rosemary, sage and thyme are just a few of the herbs that hold their fragrance well when dried.

When planting herbs, you can also mix with ornamental plants in a pot or container. With their charming flowers and lovely leaves, many herbs do double duty as ornamental plants. Plan on mixing some of them into foundation plantings, flower beds, and container gardens. Count on these herbs to provide lots of attractive blossoms: bee balm, borage, chamomile, chives, dill, fever-few and lavender. For great looking foliage, try the purple-leaved cultivars of basil. Use dramatic gray and silver foliage – lamb’s ears, lavender, sage as a background for colorful flowers. Look for variegated cultivars of scented geranium, mint, oregano, and thyme. For extra interest, add the feathery foliage of dill, fennel, parsley, and other members of the carrot family. It is even better to plant herbs in a hanging basket and front patio is the perfect place to hang where visitors can smell right away the welcoming aroma of the herbs.

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