An herb garden is a useful thing of beauty around a home. It can add flavor to meals, healing remedies to the medicine cabinet, and provide a home to beneficial insects galore. Plan a most useful herb garden for your home with these guidelines.
Planning the Culinary Herb Garden
A kitchen herb garden in an amazing thing to bring tons of flavor and freshness to meal plans.
Which herbs are important to the types of meals you most often cook? Make a lot of tomato sauce with those homegrown tomatoes? Perhaps basil and oregano are most needed.
Like to drink a lot of herbal tea? Consider planting different mints, chamomile, anise hyssop, etc.
Create a list of these plants to use for planning the herb garden. Many herbs are perennial and some are downright invasive so plan accordingly for space and remember that thinning may be important in future years.
Planting the Medicinal Herb Garden
In her book, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion, Amy Fewell suggests starting with a list of ailments most commonly faced in your house. This is great advice in that it makes sure you can easily tackle the common cold or other issues your family members deal with on a regular basis.
This may not cover you in the case of something rare or exotic but those herbs can always be purchased later. Plan for the most common ailments – sore throats, earaches, hot flashes, etc.
Next figure out the herbs that treat those common ailments. Remember many culinary herbs double as medicinal herbs. Already planning on sage in the culinary garden? Turning it into an oxymel can help relieve sore throats.
Designing the Herb Garden
Herb gardens can be anything from a few pots on a windowsill to large scale operations. Choose what works best for your space and time. There’s no right or wrong.
Keep the garden designed in such a way that it can accommodate perennial herbs such as mint but also have space as the mint spreads, and for annual herbs like basil.
Remember that herbs that spread can be contained by burying their roots in pots. If that feels like too much or simply unnecessary just be ready to thin and give away to friends later.
If the space is available, consider planting several herb gardens. Plant a dinner garden that includes things like oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, etc. Have an herbal tea garden that includes chamomile, mint, lemon balm and more. Plant a skin care garden that includes chickweed, calendula, lavender, and other soothing herbs.
Many herbs can be started from seed, which is a great way to save money in the garden. MiGardener is an heirloom seed company that sells seeds for 99 cents a packet. Use this link and get a 10% discount on your order. Another time and money saving tool for starting seeds is to use a soil blocker.
Using the Herb Garden
Of course, use the herbs as they’re fresh in regular meals and drinking. The great thing about herbs is that they tend to be productive. Thankfully that production is easy to preserve with simple drying. Simply hang and dry until crispy.
Sure pesto, compound butter, and more can be made for meals later. Tinctures, oxymels, and syrups can be made for medicine making, too. However if time is of the essence simple dehydrating works amazing and makes those herbs available for food and medicine making later.
Remember the herb garden is also full of plants that bees and many other insects love. Butterflies tend to like lovage and parsley, bees love oregano and borage flowers, moths of all kinds find home on valerian flowers and more.
Use the herb garden as a way to increase the biodiversity of your homestead while also increasing flavor of meals and healing potential inside the home.
What are some of your favorite plants to grow in your culinary or medicinal herb garden?
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