How Planting Herbs Compliments Sustainable Gardening

By Sara Tipton

Adding herbs to the garden is a great way to bring more sustainability to your yard. What I love most about herbs is they are not finicky about watering needs. In fact, many herb varieties love drier areas of the garden and can even take a little neglect. Popular herbs like lavender, thyme, and rosemary attract beneficial pollinators like bees and hummingbirds and add visual interest to the garden. As well, while the main use of herbs is to flavor food, they also serve healthful purposes and can be used in natural medicines, teas, and aromatherapy.

Cooking

If you are selecting herbs for their aroma and flavor profiles, I personally suggest rosemary, oregano, basil, chives, and lemongrass. Lavender is beautiful, but I’d plant it outside, or start it indoors, and then move it outside! I love all of these, and these herbs are still good after being dried and saved. Think about it! Most of use can buy these herbs dried in containers at the grocery store!  When cooking, you can pick a few sprigs of rosemary or chives (or any herb you choose to grow) and just enjoy them before putting them in the food.  If you really want to improve your mood, you can thank the plant for its health benefits and the flavors it’s offering as you savor the wonderful aroma. I know, it’s cheesy! But it works! Even our children thank the animal (the elk, deer, pig, etc.) for giving its life to sustain ours before we eat it. This is a great way to connect with the earth and cycle of life.  If you don’t eat meat, you can still thank those plants for sustaining your body.

Once you get your herb garden started, the hard part is finding a way to use up the herbs. Try some of these recipes if you have an overabundance of basil. We also suggest making some of these savory herbed butter for later use. Moreover, you can dehydrate herbs and make your own spice mixes for long-term use. Here are some great recipes for spices you might want to check out.

Natural medicines

There are many reasons to grow medicinal plants in the garden. Not only do they ensure garden sustainability but more notably, you will have access to natural medicine when you need it most. When I introduced more herbs in my garden, I noticed it had a profound impact on the vegetables and fruits I was growing. It discouraged plant diseases and encouraged beneficial insects and birds to visit my garden and this helped cut down on plants being eaten. If you want a few medicinal herbs, check out our previous article: 20 Medicinal Herbs That I Have in My Prepper Garden. When you harvest herbs, you will have natural medicine at your fingertips to make poultices, tinctures, and teas. Rather than running to the store to stock up on expensive over-the-counter flu medicine, you can have a backyard full of medicinal plants.

Herbal teas are one of the most popular ways of enjoying the medicinal effects of herbs. Drinking herbal teas fights diseases, helps the immune system, hydrates the body, improves digestion, and naturally relaxes the body. Simply grow your favorite herbs, harvest the medicinal parts, and dry them out for future use.

Aromatherapy

Herbs are a must if you enjoy the health benefits of aromatherapy. Did you know that certain smells can change your mood? I have certain perfumes I’ll spray on to enhance my mood because they bring back good memories, and I’ve been diffusing a lot of sandalwood and pine essential oils to connect me more to nature. I also love tea for the wonderful aroma and I burn candles that smell good to help keep me grounded and focused during times when it feels like I should be snapping. Placing potted fresh herbs in sunny spots or near lamps where the heat will help bring out their aroma can be beneficial. You can also place dried herbs in shallow bowls with rose petals and lavender sprigs, and scatter the bowls around the room. This is a homemade potpourri, and a long lost art, if you ask me!

So, how do you start an indoor herb garden?

The process of starting an indoor herb garden can help take the mind off of what’s going on in our world and narrow our focus to the beautiful plants we are growing. First, you’ll want to select a place to put your garden, under a window is a good spot so there’s plenty of sunlight for the plants. Then, figure out how much space you have. Growing 15 different herbs may not be possible for some who have a limit on space, but most of us could reasonably grow 3 different types. Most herbs need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. That means, most of us, regardless of our geographical location will be able to plant our herb garden indoors!

It’s possible to grow an herb garden indoors too. Check out these two articles on the subject:

Make sure the pots you have selected offer an adequate amount of drainage. This article will help you “test” to make sure things look right before you begin. 

After you have figured out the sunlight, space, and have proper pots, you will want to carefully choose your herbs. This is often the easy part and the fun part! Some herbs may be better outdoors because of the space they can take up, such as cilantro. We cannot contain our cilantro once it starts coming in!  Mint plants can also spread easily, but both of these could still be started indoors and moved outside making room for new herbal aromatic plants in the home.

These are difficult times, and not just because there’s a virus going around.  But with some great ways to combat the mental difficulties far too many are experiencing it can make this easier. If you have been feeling depressed and let down, know that you aren’t alone.  Our hope is that we can help you overcome the obstacles put in your path while coming out happier, and more grateful for all the Earth has to offer.  Starting an herb garden is the perfect way to do this!

Now is the best time to fill your life with happiness, love, and gratitude. Worry, fear, and panic serve no one very well. It is amazing how an herb garden can change your perception and help you smile even when things seem so bleak.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on April 29th, 2020

Image: Pixabay

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