People, we have got to start building stronger immune systems and overall good health. Commercial drugs are devastating our lives (and pocketbooks) and it needs to stop. God gave our bodies the amazing capacity to heal themselves. Now, before you go all combat on me, thinking I am “anti-everything-in-a-pill,” that is simply not the case. BUT, I adamantly believe that many people opt for “a cure in a pill” because they don’t want to take the time (or claim to not have the time) to learn more about natural remedies and holistic healing. Planting a small herb garden can be your first, baby step toward homegrown wellness.
Have you ever tasted the difference between a store-bought egg and a homegrown egg from free ranged hens? There’s really no comparison. Once you have a “real” egg, the other stuff tastes like rubber. Same with herbs. I was astounded the first time I grew and tasted fresh garden herbs! Friends had told me how amazingly different freshly grown herbs were from the dried, crumbled stuff in the plastic containers in the store. I would nod and smile politely, but in my mind, I’d think, “How much difference can there really be? I mean, it’s “just” an herb.” Boy, was I wrong!
Start an herb garden with these three
I’m still quite a novice when it comes to herb knowledge. However, for about seven years or so, I’ve been growing several herbs in a little garden outside my door. I love that. Whenever I need one, I can step out and harvest! Sometimes, when there’s an abundance and I don’t want to let it go to seed, I’ll harvest a large amount and dry it in my dehydrator or freeze it fresh, to use in soups, sauces and stews. If you want to plant an herb garden, the three basic ones to include are basil, oregano and parsley.
Oregano is a perennial, so it comes back every year on its own. Basil is an annual. You have to re-plant. Parsley can be either. It mostly depends on the climate where you live. All three of these herbs are easy to grow and are low maintenance. Oregano is a hardy herb and can pretty much take care of itself. Parsley, though, likes a moist soil, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it. Basil. Well, I pour water on mine if it hasn’t rained in a while, but that’s really all there is to it.
Harvesting from your herb garden
When you’re ready to start picking herbs, do a bit of research first, to learn how to properly pick each kind. There are certain ways of picking that will help produce a bushier plant and encourage new growth. With basil, for instance, you want to harvest from the top down, making sure you snip a stem from directly above the last leaf pair. Here’s a helpful video for harvesting basil:
If you’re new to planting an herb garden, YouTube is great for this type of stuff!
Recipes from your herb garden!
One of our favorite ways to use fresh basil is on a sandwich (toast the bread) with tuna salad. We also love to toast small pieces of pumpernickel, then form roses out of tomato skins, set them on the bread on top of some cream cheese, and garnish your “flower” with two large basil leaves. YUUUUM! Making roses from tomato skins is super easy and you watch this video for instructions. I apologize that the video is preceded by advertising. I couldn’t find one that wasn’t. Btw, you can use parsley for the leaves instead of basil if you like, which is what the man does in the video you’re about to see:
I have NO idea why that guy used such an enormous knife to make his tomato skin roses. I usually use a small paring knife and it works just fine!
Make-a-da sauce with fresh herbs!
There’s nothing like some homemade spaghetti or pizza sauce with fresh oregano and basil! Remember, fresh herbs from your herb garden are going to be a lot more potent than dried herbs. You won’t need to use as much. It’s always best to cut/dice your herbs rather than tear them (although I don’t know why, and I don’t even now if that’s true, but that’s what “they” say, lol).
Healthful benefits of an herb garden
Parsley is a valuable holistic care resource. It’s rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and also supports bone health. I have a habit of pinching off a leaf or two whenever I pass by my parsley plants to eat it fresh off the stem. To promote eye health and a stronger immune system, you need vitamin A. Parsley is an easy way to get it! It’s also a great source of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.
As for basil, it’s a power house of nutrition. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is great for your skin. Basil also helps with digestion and liver function. It’s a great detoxifier and will strengthen your gut health! Studies also show that regularly incorporating fresh basil into your diet can help fight depression.
Oregano is a potent bad bacteria warrior! It can help reduce viral infections, decrease inflammation and is super high in antioxidants. Using oregano essential oil is also beneficial. My family drinks green tea with honey, and a drop of pure oregano plus one drop of lemon or lemongrass (several times a day) whenever an illness comes on, and it helps us recover within three days.
Other herbs to plant in your herb garden
Cilantro, lemon balm, chives, marjoram and mint would be great additions to your herb garden as well. We use our mint all summer long. I add sprigs of it to pitchers of ice water. I also steep it with hot water for tea. Mint is prolific and will take over the ground wherever you plant it, so choose your location carefully! A dear friend of mine recently shared a recipe using mint that is now a spring/summer favorite in our house! You simply cut watermelon into bite size chunks, the stir in freshly cut mint leaves. Drizzle fresh lime overall and give a good stir. SO delicious and refreshing on a hot day! (She also mentioned that you can swap out the mint for cilantro, but I haven’t tried that yet.)
Another herb that is not only good for you health but looks beautiful in bloom is lavender. There are several types, and it can be a bit more challenging to grow, but it’s worth the effort!
NOTE OF CAUTION: Oregano oil is a “hot” oil. As with any essential oil, there is a risk for injury if you misuse it. It’s always best to thoroughly research health and safety information before using essential oils, and to seek appropriate medical advice for your health concerns.
That said, I highly recommend it! Growing an herb garden and using essential oils has been life-changing to my family’s health. It’s rare than any of us gets sick, and, if someone does, we take comfort in knowing that we have what we need on hand to help us get well!