Number 1 -5 of the 20 Must Have Herbs for Every Garden
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.
I’ve asked my gardening blogger friends to help introduce these herbs and give you information so you can grow them and ideas for using individual herbs in recipes and medicine.
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!
You are going to love it!
20 Must Have Herbs for your Garden (in alphabetical order)
This week herbs 1 through 5
1. Aloe – makes a great indoor houseplant and is so easy anyone can grow it. It’s only growing requirement is a sunny window and weekly watering. Use the leaves to treat burns and in any recipe for skin repair.
Aloe, a therapeutic healing plant, works both externally and internally. When used externally Aloe vera contains properties such as: astringent (causing a contraction of the skin, blood vessels, and other tissues stopping the fluid discharge), emollient (helps to soften and smooth the skin), antifungal (destroys fungi), and cell proliferator (quickly regrows new cells) used to heal wounds and burns.
I’ve written about How to Grow and Harvest Aloe in this post, plus be sure and get this recipe from Gourmet Innovation, she’s making Cooling Aloe Mint Body Lotion. Sometimes you need aloe quickly so use this tutorial at WikiHow and learn to make Aloe Ice Cubes and treat sunburn.
2. Basil – This year I have three kinds of basil growing in the garden. Regular large leaf, cinnamon, and Thai basil are the ones I’ve chosen, but you can also purchase seed for at least 60 basil varieties from Richter’s Herbs. I’ve has great success growing big basil plants in pots, but the best producer by far has been growing in a straw bale. Those plants are going nuts!
According to WebMD – Basil is used for stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections. It is also used to treat snake and insect bites. Women sometimes use basil before and after childbirth to promote blood circulation, and also to start the flow of breast milk. Some people use it as a gargle.
Preserving basil couldn’t be easier. Drying is the most common method of preservation, but you can also use this method – just chop it into small pieces, place them in an ice cube tray and add olive oil until each cubicle is full. Once they’re frozen pop them into another freezer container and remove cubes as needed. Redhead Can Decorate is using an old time method to preserve fresh basil in the fridge for a year and The Rising Spoon is making Basil Sea Salt (which looks completely yummy.)
3. Calendula – is one of the essential healing herbs to have in the garden. The bright yellow and orange flower petals can also be used in salads and are considered a poor man’s substitute for saffron. This herb has been around for centuries and is usually not carried in the local nursery. Luckily is grows easily from seed and if you leave it alone it will self-seed each year.
Calendula is a powerful wound and tissue healer both externally and internally. It has long been used to soothe and heal cuts, burns, bites, sprains, bruises, rashes, sunburns, and abrasions due to its antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, and tissue-healing actions. Calendula also contains salicylic acid so works as an analgesic to help relieve the pain associated with these types of wounds and skin irritations.
See how I dry calendula leaves and make a calendula petal infused oil for healing. The Paleo Mama uses it as an ingredient in her All Purpose Healing Salve and Growing Up Herbal is making Calendula Infused Facial Toner.
4. Chamomile –There are two types of Chamomile that are good for tea and herbal skin preparations. German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), is an annual that can grow up to 2-feet high; and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), is an annual that can grow up to 2-feet high; and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), is a perennial that grows to 12-inches high. Both contain essential oils and antioxidants that are calming and relaxing. Both types of chamomile have subtle sedative properties from flavonoids and volatile oils that bind to the same receptors as Valium. So drinking your chamomile before bed really is going to sooth you to sleep.
Chamomile is also used to treat travel sickness, stuffy nose, hay fever, nervous diarrhea, ADHD, fibromyalgia, restlessness, and sleeplessness. It makes a delicious, soothing tea helpful for easing anxiety and tension, has a pleasant taste and is safe for children. As an oil infusion, chamomile can be used for minor skin irritations. A 2011 study found that a chamomile solution used as a compress for skin lesions was as effective as hydrocortisone
Grow a Good Life is growing chamomile for tea and talks about harvest techniques. Empowered Sustenance is using it in conjunction with oats as a refreshingly effective facial cleaner and Everyday Roots incorporated it into her Homemade Lavender-Chamomile Sleepy-Time Lotion Recipe.
5. Chives – Who doesn’t love these culinary giants! Easily grown from seed or root division, a chive plant will attract pollinators and give you years of cuttings. This year I purchased a big plant from the local nursery and split it into clumps. It’s happily growing in the gutter garden.
The medicinal properties of chives are as varied as their uses in the kitchen. Chives stimulate the appetite and promote good digestion. They can be used to ease stomach upset, clear a stuffy nose, reduce flatulence and prevent bad breath. Combined with a low-salt diet, they help lower high blood pressure. Plus, they have a mild diuretic effect, as well as some antibacterial properties. Learn more at Grandma’s Wisdom
Garden Matter has put together some wonderful information about growing and harvesting chives and shares a recipe for chive butter that you won’t want to miss. Make this ahead and freeze it. If you grow enough you may even need these instructions from The Daily Pea about how to preserve chives, and She Wears Many Hats used some to make yummy Sour Cream, Cheddar & Chives Drop Biscuits.
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 number 6 through 10 and you will have five more fantastic herbs and recipes to try.
Be sure to visit 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
What do you like best about these 5 essential herbs? Please share a favorite recipe or growing tip in the comments below.