Eight Reasons You Should Be Growing Your Own Herbs
My love affair with herbs began many years ago--more than I care to remember.
Many people think of herbs as plants simply used to enhance the flavour of foods. Not only do herbs turn a bland meal into something that can titivate your taste buds, but they're also brimming with health benefits.
That's aside from the aesthetic beauty of having fresh herbs growing in your garden. I've just come back from a visit to Wellington and we stopped in for a walk in the Wellington Botanical gardens. My guide (my lovely step-son) knows how much I love herbs, so took me for a wander in amongst the herb garden. He also took me to Cloisters in New York when we were there a few years ago--that's a whole new post!
It's late in the season for herbs, but still the garden looked beautiful with the low rays of sunshine shimmering through the spent flowers and seeds heads of the various herbs.
So, instead of picking up your favourite herbs from your local supermarket's produce department or from your local farmer's market, why don't you take a look at growing your own?
Herbs can grow in the worst of soils, they're forgiving if you neglect them (well, most of them are) and with the right amount of sun and water and a spot in your no-dig garden, they will reward you with bountiful growth over the spring and summer.
You don't have to be passionate about cooking to start a herb garden, there are plenty of other reasons to have these beautiful and easily grown plants in your garden.
Here are eight great reasons why you should consider growing your own herbs in your garden:
There is nothing like picking fresh herbs. Fresh is always best when you're cooking with herbs. Most herbs have volatile oils that dissipate quickly after they have been picked.
To enjoy a herb's fresh flavour consume it as quickly as you can after you've picked it.
2. They Remain Fresh
Buying herbs from the supermarket may seem easy, but fresh herbs can quickly go bad. Having your own herb garden means you can have any herb you want on hand and fresh, without the need to substitute for dried ones.
3. They're Healthy
Fresh herbs offer many health benefits. Most are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants and help aid in digestion (hence the reason we put them in foods and make teas from them). You can get all these benefits from your own herb garden without added pesticides or other unwanted chemical nasties.
4. You Save Money
Herbs at supermarkets or even farmer's markets can be quite pricey, especially if you are looking to make pesto--which needs a much larger quantity of fresh herbs. It's a no-brainer that you'll save money by picking the herbs you need for your meals from your garden. You won't have to worry about running out either. Herbs love to be treated badly. Pick them and they'll simply produce more for you.
You'll get a great return on your seeds or your seedling plants by using them over and over again.
5. It's Easy & Rewarding
Most herbs are quite easy to grow, which means if you're a beginner gardener, you won't have to stress so much about your little charges. Herbs will pretty much grow anywhere. You can plant them as companions to vegetables, or on their own in pots, or even keep them on a sunny windowsill in the house. Imagine the scent of lemon balm or basis drifting through the sitting room or the kitchen.
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6. Herbs are Beautiful & Smell Amazing
Following on from them being amazing house plants, herbs are highly aromatic and (even later in the season) they're pretty to look at. From the tiny purple faces of violets peeking out from the edge of a garden bed, to the tall flower stems of lavender and everything in between. Feverfew and chamomile look like tall daises with their white petals and bright yellow centres.
Calendula is another of my favourites, or Pot Marigold as it is also called. Calendula comes in many different shades of orange and yellow and they're just so bright and beautiful on the edge of a garden bed.
7. They're Great Companion Plants
I love dotting herbs through my garden beds. Not only are they beautiful in amongst the sheets of green, but they also confuse insect pests with their bright colours and also their scents.
Lemon scented herbs are fantastic for confusing pests, along with the other heavily scented herbs such as lavender, rosemary or basil.
I have some trouble here in Auckland with rosemary as sometimes the plants like to turn up their toes and die if they get too wet.
8. There are So Many Varieties
There are so many different herbs to choose from, that I feel blessed to have herbs in my life. I couldn't manage without my home herb garden--there are just hundreds of different varieties of herbs to choose from and hundreds of things that you can do with them.
I began to learn about herbs many years ago and I still feel as if I am learning something new every day.
Get some seeds, or pick up some seedlings from a herbal supplier. You won't regret starting your own herb garden at home.