It doesn’t matter if you live in a farmhouse or a towering skyscraper, planting an herb garden is possible for everyone. Herbs do well in almost any kind of soil, demand little fertilizer, and are rarely affected by pests. That means the health benefits of herbs and gardening can be yours with only a little bit of effort.
This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to plant herbs. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. You can even start with just one. Buy the herb and then plant it directly in the soil or in a pot. Whether you choose to plant rosemary, basil, mint or an alternative, you cannot go wrong. Not only will you gain the benefit of fresh herbs at your fingertips, gardening has been proven to improve physical and mental health.
Benefits of Growing an Herb Garden
Envision yourself on a Saturday morning, outside in the fresh air, growing your own herbs. You decide to pick fresh rosemary to roast with vegetables that night for dinner. The evening before you needed a few sprigs of thyme to add to the chicken and kale stew. Not only are you more creative in your meal choices and preparations, but you also save money. Next time you are at the grocery store, check out the prices for fresh, and sometimes not so fresh, herbs.
Benefits of Eating Herbs
Fresh herbs not only taste good but also have beneficial health effects. Their multiple benefits range from enhancing the taste of food to improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and more! Herbs contain a bevy of disease-fighting nutrients, including antioxidants, which battle cancer and heart disease; essential oils, which can kill germs; vitamins, which also aid against heart disease; and phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol.
Herbs also are used as remedies for a variety of ailments. For example, rosemary, oregano and chamomile all relieve digestive ailments. Rosemary also soothes sore muscles when rubbed onto the skin, and chamomile can relieve diaper rash when applied topically. Camomile can also be used as a sedative. Oregano relieves respiratory problems and also treats yeast infections. Fennel can be used to treat colic and gas. It also serves as a diuretic.
A Couple of Things to Know Before You Plant:
Before planting, evaluate your needs, the climate in which you live, and how much room you have available to see whether growing herbs indoors or outdoors is best for you. Both have their benefits – planting indoors will grant you easier access, produce year-round growth and eliminate the need to weed. On the other hand, planting outdoors will give you more room, produce more herbs, and boost their flavor. Since the majority of herbs are indigenous to the Mediterranean, they will grow best if planted in a comparable environment with an abundance of sunlight.
When caring for herbs, soil should be kept relatively moist. As a rule of thumb, herbs like parsley and mint do best in moist soil; sage, rosemary and thyme do best in less-saturated soil. If herbs are being kept indoors, be especially careful not to overwater them because the roots will rot if they are waterlogged. Instead, wait until the top layer of soil is dry before rewatering.
The majority of herbs produce their own natural, pest-repelling oils, meaning that fertilizer is not always 100% necessary. However, adding a little organic fertilizer is never a bad thing. Beware of adding too much, though, as an abundance of fertilizer might weaken the fragrance and flavor of the herbs.
To harvest your herbs, simply cut off as much of the herb as you want to use. For maximum flavor, herbs should be picked right before they are used. If necessary, though, they can be dried or frozen for later use.
Be Better by planting and enjoying herbs this week! We can’t wait to see what you are able to produce with those green thumbs of yours.
In the Box: Garden in a Box from Recycled Ideas
Using 100% biodegradable materials, Recycled Ideas has created this little paper leaf that can be planted to create your own herb plant! By putting it in some soil and then adding water, in no time (even in the cold), you’ll have a plant to spice up your meals in the freshest way possible.