Gardening for Health

Grow Your Own Herbs for Flavor, Health and Wellness 

An herb is any plant that is considered of use to humans for flavoring food, making beverages, creating fragrances, or medicinal use. With so many uses, the study and growing of herbs is multifaceted.  

Fresh herbs in particular will add flavor and extra nutrients to your cuisine. There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a cool tabbouleh salad made with fresh parsley and spearmint. If you have digestive issues or an intense day try some chamomile tea in the evening to calm your mind. 

All of these herbs can be easily grown. Turn over soil in a well-drained area that gets about five to six hours of sun. Amend the soil with compost and dolomitic lime if it hasn’t been added previously.  Many common herbs are Mediterranean and require a limey soil. Most herbs can be purchased from local nurseries and started from seed. If pots are your only option, use a soil-less media for good drainage. 

One of my favorite herbs is lavender. English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, is actually a native Mediterranean herb that grows in rocky calcareous cliffs. It requires very good drainage and lime in the soil. Growing different cultivars will extend the blooming season. 

It’s good to grow your culinary herbs close to your kitchen door so you can access them easily when cooking. Complicated recipes are not necessary if you are using herbs in cooking. Experiment with different flavors. Chives have beautiful pink blossoms and are great on plain buttered new potatoes. Roast potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and a little lemon juice for a great treat. Chunks of watermelon mixed with feta cheese and fresh spearmint is a refreshing summer salad. Pesto made with basil makes an easy summer pasta meal.  

Decide what herbs you like and grow them together, for example, dill, mint and parsley are a traditional blend used in a lot of Greek cuisine. Try growing them together. Use perennial herbs to make the framework of your herb garden and fill in with annual herbs. 

You can also design a tea garden with colorful bee balms that come in red, pink, purple and white. Lemon balm with its mild lemon flavor and chamomile with its sweet apple scent are great herbs for tea. All of these herbs possess antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.