Thanks for joining us for week 4 of the Essential Herbs Series
Every day we use herbs. They flavor our food, beautify our garden, and aid in natural family health. They are certainly handy to have around.
I’ve been contemplating the 20 herbs I must have in my garden. Why these twenty? I thought about my small space garden and how to get the biggest bang for my area. These herbs are all terrific for medicinal purposes – plus they can double as food, add flavor to meals, make a healthful tea, and attract pollinators.
Herbs are easy to propagate by cutting or layering and most come back year after year, so my one time investment will pay off in the long run. I’ve asked my gardening blogger friends to help introduce these herbs and give you information about how grow them and ideas for using them.
Each recommended herb will have a general description about why I include it in my garden and a link for information about how to grow it, how to cook with it, how to preserve it and at least one medicinal thing you can do with it.
You are going to love it!
See what herbs we have in store for this week #16-20
16. Rosemary –
I love that most herbs are simple to grow. So it is with rosemary. Purchase a plant or get a stalk from a friend and learn how to root a cutting. Rosemary prefers a dry, warm spot in full sun. It does not like to have wet feet and is a great addition to your vegetable garden because it is popular with pollinators Pinch it regularly for use in culinary creations and to keep it from becoming too branchy.
Rosemary contains volatile oils (including borneol, camphene, camphor, cineole, limonene, and linalool) which are responsible for its strong aroma; flavonoids; diterpenes; triterpenes; rosmaricine; rosmarinic acid; vitamin A (beta-carotene); vitamin C; and minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. (source: Herbal Academy of New England)
The leaves are harvested and used to make tea, tincture, vinegar, essential oil, and infused oil. Rosemary is widely used in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps and shampoos. It is also used extensively in cooking, pairing nicely with meats, poultry, fish, soups, pesto, vegetables, grilled cheese, and even desserts!
Check out this post – Grow, Harvest & Use Rosemary for more tips. If you are growing rosemary for drying purposes you should wait until the plant has just begun to bloom. This is when the plant has its maximum oil content and flavor. All you need is a pair of kitchen shears and a harvesting basket.
Cut off the top 2 to 3 inches of each sprig, leaving green leaves and being careful not to cut the plant too close. You want to be sure and give it time to recover before winter sets in.
You can preserve your rosemary by bundling the clippings with a rubber band and hanging them upside down to dry. Use the same method as you would for lavender. Once the leaves are dry, in about 10 days, strip them off the stems and place in a container with a tight-fitting lid. I like to use small canning jars. Be sure to put your harvest date on the jar.
17. Sage –
What would Thanksgiving turkey be without sage? At my house we also think it makes a great addition to our morning omelette and to make sage herbed butter. It is a perennial plant that will grow to between 1 and 4 feet depending on the variety you’ve chosen. Plant it in full sun and average, well drained soil. other than that, it requires no fertilizer and has minimal care requirements.
Sage is an interesting plant that affects people differently. It can be warming or cooling, depending on the person. See if you can find fresh sage leaves and pop one in your mouth, chew and see if it is warming or cooling in your mouth. You may find that if you prepare sage in a warm tea or warm up the tincture it is more warming and if you take it in a cool tea or tincture it is more cooling.
Go in-depth with this related post: Herbs to Know – Sage
And Here We Are is using sage combined with honey to make a cough syrup. See how the Untrained Housewife is growing sage in her kitchen garden. Plus Chocolate & Zucchini has a collection of 45 Things to Do With Fresh Sage. Make your own poultry seasoning with this recipe from Premeditated Leftovers.
18. Stevia –
This plant is a new addition to my herb garden this year. Stevia and its extracts have no calories, few carbohydrates and a glycemic index of zero. It can have a bitter aftertaste, so you should introduce it to your palate in small doses until you’re used to its taste. It is 15 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.
Grown from seed or transplant, you can plant Stevia seed in late winter or early spring. Keep the seeds growing on a sunny windowsill until all danger of frost has passed, then transplant into the garden. Stevia prefers a medium-rich garden soil with compost and full sun. It likes heat, humidity and has average water requirements. It does not like to have “wet feet” so if growing in a container make sure there are plenty of drainage holes.
You can dry the leaves and make an extract or syrup to use in place of sugar.
Common Sense Home has more tips to grow your own stevia and The Herbal Academy of New England has 10 Homemade Herbal Tea remedies for cold and flu. All of these teas can be made with a pinch of stevia leaf to sweeten them if you so choose!
19. Thyme –
Thyme isn’t much to look at and you might even miss it if you weren’t aware of its powerful fragrance. Is known medicinally for its aromatic oils – thymol (antimicrobial), phenol (antiseptic) and terpinene (antioxidant) that will concentrate in its leaves. Thyme is easy to grow from transplants or seed and has many varieties – from lemon thyme to wooly thyme, to creeping thyme. You are sure to find a few to complement your garden. Thyme does not like overly rich or moist soil and does not require any kind of fertilizing.
Thanks to Gardening Know How I know the right time to trim thyme will depend on what kind of pruning I plan on performing on the plant. There are four ways of pruning thyme plants and they are:
// Hard Rejuvenation – Late fall after the first frost
// Light Rejuvenation – After blooming in the summer
// Shaping – Spring
// Harvesting – Anytime during active growth (spring and summer)
Garden Matter is cooking with thyme, be sure and get her tip for making a veggie dip. Tales of a Kitchen has thyme as one of the main ingredients in Home Made Mustard and Frugally Sustainable is using thyme as a natural remedy for acne prone skin. Plus, you are going to want to check out this recipe for Lemon Thyme Extract from My Darling Lemon Thyme.
20. Yarrow –
Yarrow is an unassuming plant, growing to 24 inches. It comes in many colorful species, but for medicinal purposes, the common A. millefolium is used. It is a no fuss, easy to grow perennial, needing only well-drained soil. It thrives in poor soil and grows equally well in full sun or part shade.
Stephen Orr says in his book The New American Herbal, Yarrow “is one of the most well-known tonic herbs…it is traditionally used most often to stop bleeding from cuts and wounds, but it is also suggested that a bit of yarrow poultice in the nose will cause it to bleed.”
The New England Herbal Academy gives direction to make a bath or face wash with yarrow leaves in the water. It is said to lower fever, as is a tea made from dried leaves. Harvest yarrow flowers and leaves when the plant is in full bloom. Harvest in the morning after the dew dries and before the sun’s heat evaporates the lighter essential oils.
Karen from Lil Suburban Homestead has featured yarrow in her herb of the week series. Montana Homesteader is making yarrow first aid salve and Katie at Wellness Mama has several recipes for teas and tinctures in her post How To Use Yarrow.
Hopefully, you’ve learned to grow a few new herbs for your garden and found some wonderful culinary and medicinal recipes to help you be self-reliant and prepared. (plus, you probably found a few new bloggers to follow) Next week the essential herbs series continues with a roundup highlighting some of my favorite herb bloggers.
What do you like best about the 5 essential herbs in this post?
Be sure and check the other posts in the Essential Herbs Series:
Week 1 – 1. Aloe, 2. Basil, 3. Calendula, 4. Chamomile, 5. Chives
Week 2 – 6. Comfrey, 7. Echinacea, 8. Garlic, 9. Lavender, 10. Lemon Balm
Week 3 – 11. Lemon Verbena, 12. Lovage, 13. Mint, 14. Oregano, 15. Plantain
Week 4 – 16. Rosemary, 17. Sage, 18. Stevia, 19. Thyme, 20. Yarrow
Week 5 – My Favorite Herb Bloggers Roundup