by Sherri Ursini
First and foremost, keep in mind I am not an herbalist. I just love herbs and I love learning all about them! Please do your own research regarding any potential medicinal benefits that I list.
Culinary herbs are so beneficial. There are many herbs that are not only edible but also have healthy benefits to the body. Throughout history, herbs have been used for food preservation, medicines, cosmetics, cooking and even folklore. There is evidence of early herb gardens in Europe that date to the Middle Ages. Egyptian schools of herbalists have existed since 3,000 B.C. In London at the Chelsea Flower Show, there is an herb garden called the Physic Garden, which dates to 1673. All that to say, herbs have been part of society for hundreds of years.
There seems to be a renewed interest in growing herbs. This is in conjunction with the rise in vegetable gardens. People really want to know where their food is coming from, and how it was raised. Herbs can be quite expensive and so starting herbs from seed is very economical. Also, there are so many different type herbs you can grow from seed that you won’t find as a transplant in the nursery. The opportunities are endless.
Some of the more popular herbs with their benefits are listed below:
MINT: There are many varieties of mint. My personal favorite is chocolate. However, there is pineapple, apple, and many others. They each have an unmistakable fragrance when leaves are crushed. Mint teas are refreshing and can be added to lemonade and desserts. Mint is an herb that repels mosquitoes in the garden. Mint can be invasive, so best to grow this one in a pot.
BASIL: This is an herb we classify as an annual. That just means it won’t survive our winter temperatures, so you will replant this one every year. You can choose purple, lemon, African blue and my favorite, Thai. In the kitchen I love making pesto, and tomato mozzarella salads. Basil is antibacterial and an antioxidant. When growing basil, morning sun is best. It will need a break from our Texas afternoon sun. Plant basil nearby sitting areas to repel flies and mosquitoes.
ROSEMARY: This is a hardy herb and will last for years in your garden. Keep in mind, this herb needs well drained soil. Great success is achieved by growing rosemary in a container. Rosemary is a nutrient rich herb that is high in vitamins A and C. it has even been used to help with depression and headaches.
SAGE: Another perennial herb, which means you can enjoy this flavorful herb for many years in your garden. Sage prefers slightly dry soil and can get woody if not pruned. This herb is perfect for soups and stews and is most often used in homemade stuffing. It can be dried and used for teas and rubs.
THYME: I have several varieties of thyme in my garden. The plants are beautiful and mix well with all kinds of flowers. I grow lemon thyme and a variegated one. It’s cold hardy and drought tolerant. Hello, Texas weather! It loves the sun and well-draining soil. Thyme is great in salad dressings and marinades. This herb can aid in digestion. Drinking a honey-sweetened tea with thyme can be very relaxing and reduces body aches.
OREGANO: Oregano in my garden is a main stay, I have had the same plant growing for years. There is Greek oregano, Syrian, sweet, and Italian oregano. This is a hardy woody plant that can tolerate moderate drought conditions, allow soil to dry between waterings.
We haven’t tipped the iceberg when it comes to herbs! There is a lot to learn, but it is important to just start somewhere, even if it is only a few plants at a time. I have killed many plants and have learned along the way. I don’t believe in black thumbs or green thumbs. I believe we live, and we learn and by doing so herbs can be beneficial and enhance our lives.
For more information about gardening in North Texas see dcmga.com