HERBS YOU SHOULD BE USING EVERYDAY

 In Blog, Garden, Health, Lifestyle, Valley Of The Sun Naturals

HERBS YOU SHOULD BE USING EVERYDAY

Growing your own herbs is becoming more and more popular every day, and for a good reason. Herbs have practical value as well as being attractive. When most people think of herb gardening they automatically think of cooking, but herbs are also grown for their pleasant aroma and their beauty and here are some top herbs you should be using everyday.

Having an herb garden can be very practical as well as rewarding. You can start one in an out-of-the-way corner of your home or any spot in the yard.  You can grow a better product with a fraction of the cost of having to go out to buy some for household use. It’s like finding a sale every time you walk out to the garden!

HERBS YOU SHOULD BE USING EVERYDAY

Lavender

Lavender is probably the most beloved herb in all of herb gardening and certainly one of the most fragrant. It is often used as a perfume scent, in candle making and to improve the smell in clothing, for soap and washing. The light purple flowers smell absolutely lovely. Lavender, like most all herbs, are hardy to grow and grow best in sunny, dry climates or a sunny location in your yard if growing in a more northerly climate.

Basil

Basil is one of the most well-known herbs for cooking and one of the easiest to grow.   It gives food that unique flavor we know and love in sauces for spaghetti and pizza. It is an annual that also has Mediterranean origins so it is only a warm weather crop outside. But like other herbs, it grows well indoors in a pot in the Winter. One of the most common uses for is for making Pesto and only takes a few stems for a delicious sauce.

Purple basil, Thai, Cinnamon and green Sweet basils like Genovese are beautiful additions to any garden and often used as decorative int he border. Dark Opal has light pink flowers and dark red leaves but green basil is also very attractive and grown in a flower bed is an easy way to incorporate growing herbs if you don’t have a lot of room. If left to go to seed a bit, it is attractive to bees as well.

TOP HERBS YOU SHOULD BE USING EVERYDAY

Chives

Chives are very petite looking and resemble a blade of grass. They are much stronger than they look, however, and will grow well through a drought and dry weather. Their toughness and sturdiness makes Chives a perfect plant for herb gardening, especially if the gardener doesn’t want plants that are fussy. Chives are good used in salads, egg dishes and different salad or sauces.

Mint

Mint is also very simple to grow and is good to use in jelly, with rice and lemonades or any other kind of fruity drink. This herb is also long known to help with digestion problems. Mint is easy to grow and likes a little shady spot. But you must be watchful for it creeping into areas that you don’t want it to. Happily established, it can be invasive to other areas.

Thyme

Culinary Thyme is also from the Mediterranean and well-known for it’s place in songs but it has medicinal uses that go back to ancient times. Thyme is commonly used in the kitchen in blends for poultry seasoning and turkey stuffing and also pairs well with fish chowder and soups.

The little Thyme plant only 6-8 inches tall, is packed with big vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health and nutrition. It contains many antioxidants and has antiseptic, and anti-fungal characteristics. Thyme tea is taken for coughing and bronchitis or just to feel better. Like all herbs it is easy to grow and should be essential to any herb garden.

Parsley

Parsley is another one of our herbs of Mediterranean origins that we have been using for millennia for many dishes. It is definitely one of the top herbs you may already be using everyday. But many people mostly see parsley as simply garnish at the salad bar and may not realize how nutritious it actually is. Parsley is rich in vitamins A, C and K and may even block cancer-causing cells. TOP HERBS YOU SHOULD BE USING EVERYDAYParsley is also a rich source of antioxidants.

Unlike most of the others, Parsley is a biennial herb. That means you can easily start new seedlings in the spring but they won’t go to seed until the following year. That does give you a longer growing season (if you can overwinter outside) and will give you more time to use your parsley fresh.

Parsley is one of the easiest herbs to dry by drying in bunches as noted below. But if you only have a little at a time, parsley dries really well in a dehydrator as well.

Sage

One herb that appears in nearly everyone’s herb garden is Sage. It is a culinary favorite used for flavoring soups, poultry and sausage. But it’s also a beautiful landscaping plant. You could grow Sage just for its beautiful blue spiked flowers and the fragrant leaves are a bonus!

Plant Sage in a spot that gets sun at least half the day.  Sage also prefers sandy or loamy soil, but will grow in more clay soils. Just add more compost matter to give it the drainage it prefers. Try not to over-fertilize and give it time as it is a moderate rate grower.

Other types of herbs often grown in herb gardening include borage (used in salads), chervil (used in egg dishes), sweet marjoram (flavors lamb, fish, salad, and soup), sesame (flavors crackers, cookies, and bread), and dill (flavors meats and used in pickles). These are just a few of the most common top herbs you should be using everyday.

PRESERVING THE HERB HARVEST

One important step in growing herbs is drying them for use during the winter months, especially if you plan on using them for cooking or medicinal teas.

Drying herbs is one of the easiest things to do. First, cut the tops of leafy herbs, wash to remove any dirt and bugs. Tie stems together in a small handful (not too big a bunch or it won’t dry well) and hang in bunches to dry. You can put bunches in a paper bag to keep dark. This helps to maintain the color as much as possible when dry. Remove after a few days and test to see if the leaves crumble. If so, then they are dry. If not, Put the bag back and dry a few days more. Once dry, remove the leafy part and store in a glass jar in a cool, dry place.

You can easily freeze small amounts of herbs in ice cube trays. Pop out and keep in a freezer bag or container and they will keep for months!

Having your own herbs to use fresh from your own garden for cooking is really not that hard. Herbs as a family are very hardy to grow either from seed or cuttings. Then when you want to use them in cooking, just snip what you need and let it re-grow. These top herbs will reward you with every bite!

 

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