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Useful Herbs for

the Home Garden

 

Herbs are the most useful plants in the garden. Their uses range from culinary delights, medicinal teas and scented potpourris to simply their ornamental beauty. Even if you have no intention or time to make Lavender braids, Basil pesto or Tarragon vinegar, including these plants in the garden gives you the potential to be the self-sufficient person we all deep down yearn to be.

There has been a resurgence of interest in herbs as the gardening public demands more variety in their gardens. Even the most common of herbs will blend well with the perennials and annuals in the garden and give it that added spark the garden needs. Purple Basil, Garlic Chives, Nasturtiums, Valerian and Garlic are a few examples of outstanding plants which are highly ornamental and useful, even if never harvested.

Oregano, Borage and Chives will attract a multitude of bees to your garden. This buzz of activity is a clear sign that all is well and healthy in the garden.

The medicinal value of plants has been overlooked in our modern world as we rely on synthetic products for drugs and cures. Oddly enough, these synthetic products were originally discovered and derived from the plant world. As we begin to rediscover the medicinal value of herbs, it is an educational experience to grow these plants and learn more about them. St. John's Wort, Echinacea, Feverfew and Evening Primrose are all plants which are now being bottled and sold as remedies for all sorts of minor ailments. What part of the plant, when to harvest and how to extract the active ingredients is, in my opinion, best left to the experts.

Adding fresh herbs, harvested just before dinner, will jazz up even the simplest of dishes. French Tarragon with eggs, Basil with tomatoes, Savoury or Sage with chicken, Parsley with fish and Rosemary with lamb are a few must-haves for culinary purposes. They should be planted close to the kitchen or in window boxes for easy access while you cook.

Aromatic herbs can be used to make potpourris or simply added to the garden and experienced while you wander. Thyme and Chamomile can be planted along pathways and will give off their scent as you walk over them. Lavender begs to be touched as you pass it by and a soothing sprig is my constant companion after I leave the garden. Bee Balm and other plants from the mint family have highly aromatic leaves which continue to release their scent long after harvest.

Fresh herbs are bountiful in the summer months and may be harvested for future use in many different ways. Many herbs can be dried by being hung in bunches or spread out on sheets, out of the direct sun. The leaves of Marjoram, Sage, Savoury, Mint and Rosemary will dry after a few weeks and can be removed from the stems and stored in a dry vessel in the spice cabinet. Some herbs do not dry well and are better frozen. Dill, Tarragon, Chives and Fennel should be chopped up finely and placed in freezer bags for future use. Another way of freezing these herbs is to place the chopped up leaves in ice cube trays, topped up with water. Each cube will be the portion required for one recipe.

Pesto, vinegars and oils are other ways of preserving herbal flavour. There are many books available which give recipes for these, my favourite so far, being The Salad Garden from Harrowsmith. Once you get the knack, you can experiment with your own concoctions and have plenty of gifts from the garden for all your friends.

I find that it makes my garden tours all the more interesting when I can tell a story about my plants. An interesting book to read is The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter. This was written in the late 1800s and tells the story of a fellow living off the land. It blends in all sorts of details about the hows and whys of using plants. Another great book is called The Modern Herbal by Mrs. Grieves. This book, from the 1920's, gives historic information about plants, the parts used and how to prepare them. Richter's catalogue is an incredible resource for information as well as a source for most herbs. They can be viewed on the web @ www.richters.com. Another recent find is www.theherbaltouch.com. By checking out any of these resources, you will be inspired to try something new or simply have an interesting tidbit to tell your visitors.

 

Daisy Moore, 1999.

 

 

Other spring garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)

 

Extreme Conditions
Growing Roses
Summer Lawn Care
Propogation by Cuttings
Sources of Native Plants
Making Sense of Fertilizer Labels
Annual/Perennial Combinations
Climbing Plants
The Dry Garden
Wildlife
Ornamental Grasses
Chooosing A Good Gardening Book
Companion Planting
Preparing the Compost for Fall Use
Getting the Most out of your Vegetable Garden
Repairing Lawns From Summer Stress
All About Grubs
All About Onions
Useful Herbs for the Home Garden
Screens and Hedges

 

 

 

Home  |  Garden designs  |  Naturalized gardening  |  Help with your garden  |  Garden Tips Spring  Summer  Fall  | Contact Daisy

 

Daisy Moore 2005