Garden Forever

Gardening Herbs For All Ages

Herbs are a wonderful addition to every garden. Though many use the terms herbs and spices interchangeably, they are different. Herbs come from the leaf of a plant while spices come from the roots. Gardeners of all ages may enjoy growing herbs then harvesting and drying them for future, edible use. The herb garden has enjoyed a long standing history and gained immense popularity during the 18th century. Herbs have held many uses over the years including medicinal, as a basis for teas, as a flavoring for prepared, cooked meals, and as an aromatic addition to potpourris. The Bible mentions many herbs, indicating that man has used them for thousands of years. They comprise much of the earliest forms of medicine. Today, people worldwide continue to use herbs for their health giving benefits as well as their culinary uses.

Popular herbs used in households worldwide and known for their growing ease include basil, dill, mint, tarragon, chives, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and parsley. The beginning herb gardener will do well to add these plants to their garden. Gardeners may successfully grow these herbs using indoor containers. Italian and Thai dishes frequently use basil. The herb comes in several varieties and may grow to heights between three and four feet tall. Known for its strong flavor and use in seasonings, dill comes from the Mediterranean and is native to Russia. Dill is one of the main pickling ingredients in dill pickles. Mint is a common ingredient used to flavor many dishes and is available in many varieties. Some examples of mint include spearmint, peppermint, redmint, pineapple mint, and watermint. Mint is a popular ingredient used for medicinal teas.

 Native to parts of Europe and Asia, tarragon arrived in the United States during the 19th century. Tarragon is frequently used in its native land as the basis for many carbonated soft drinks. U.S. culinary uses for tarragon limit it to seasonings for meat and fish dishes as well as sauces, vinegars, dressings, pickles, relishes, and other condiments. Chives have a flavor similar to onions and cooks frequently use them for their culinary purposes. Native to Europe, scholars believe the Ancient Greeks and Romans used chives on a regular basis. Oregano is popular for both its medicinal and culinary uses. Some refer to oregano as “wild marjoram” due to their similarity in scent and taste. A plentiful herb throughout Asia, Europe, the northern parts of Africa and the Mediterranean, cooks frequently use oregano in Italian dishes. Many revere time for its culinary and medicinal use. As a healing ointment, oil of thyme is frequently used. As a culinary ingredient, thyme lends its flavor to savory meat, fish, and poultry dishes. Rosemary is a popular herb for both medicinal and culinary purposes. People have used oil of rosemary as a healing ointment for centuries. Cooks frequently use fresh or dried rosemary in meat dishes such as roasts and as a flavoring in vinegars and salad dressing. One of the most popular herbs that appear in households nationwide is parsley. With a high content of vitamins A and C, parsley is also a good source of iron. Its nutritional benefits have made it more than a garnish to some health conscious connoisseurs. These herbs are known for their ease of growth and are often the first herbs selected by new gardeners to add to their herb gardens. Once a gardener becomes accustomed to growing these herbs, he or she can progress to more challenging herbs to grow.

Herbs such as basil, dill, oregano, parsley, and thyme are considered easy to grow due to their resilience and natural tolerance to many insects and disease. Those who choose to grow herbs indoors will not find the task more difficult than outdoor gardening. It is the type of herb that determines the challenge rather than growing herbs in windows, in containers or planting directly in soil. Examples of more difficult herbs to grow include aloe vera, St. John’s Wort, and valerian. Once you have mastered the easier herbs, try your hand at growing more challenging herb varieties.

There are many factors to successfully growing herbs. Each herb requires its own specific growing conditions, such as full sun, shade or semi shade and some require dry soils, while others prefer moist. It is imperative to perform your research and ensure that you have specified the right environment for each herb to thrive in. As with other plants, herbs are classified as annuals, biennials, and perennials. Perennials will continue to come back each season, while annuals bloom one season then die back. Some annuals will seed themselves. Biennials live two seasons, only blooming during one. Make certain to implement the safest methods when dealing with insects or disease. As herbs are grown to be consumed, look for alternative methods to pesticides to ensure your herbs are safe and ready for consumption. Pesticides are toxic and are considered poisons. There are natural solutions that may prove more beneficial for herb gardens than the use of pesticides. It is imperative that herbs are grown in an environment that renders the finished product safe to eat.

Man has cultivated herb gardens for thousands of years. They have provided landscaping, served ornamental purposes, have lent their aromatic fragrances to perfumes and potpourris, and have delighted the taste buds of food connoisseurs. With their ease of use and ability for even the novice gardener to successfully grow them, herb gardens are the perfect choice for everyone. They may be grown year round with indoor containers. Parents can expose children to the wonders of plant life with a simple herb garden while the master botanist may specialize in growing herb varieties. From the beginner to advanced gardener, people of all ages can enjoy herb gardening.