Sunday, October 28, 2012

Herbs for Home Gardening

 gardeb pic resize

My garden this fall is productive and flourishing. I have learned and experienced so much during the 4 years I’ve been gardening. I now grow herbs, vegetables, and butterfly plants. Many of my herbs and vegetables are started from seed which allows me to experiment with different and unique varieties. When I first started, I could hardly get seeds to sprout and many of my plants dried out. So if you feel that you are lacking a “green thumb,” don’t be discouraged. Start out small and then expand. I learned that growing plants in pots in Florida doesn’t work well because the heat dries out the soil too fast. We converted to raised beds in our family garden which works much better.  Also, as a beginner gardener, I suggest buying seedlings from the store and when you feel more confident than begin your journey with seeds. Beware though, seed shopping is addicting!

The joy of herbs! So many choices.


Starting herbs from seeds can open so many different opportunities to try new varieties. Old heirloom varieties are especially interesting and are fun to try. This heirloom amaranth is Joseph’s Coats “Perfecta and adds splashes of color to my garden.

amaranthamaranth drying

Red Hopi Dye Amaranth is a fun plant to grow. It’s leave and flower heads are a vibrant red and add color to the garden. The leaves make a great addition to salads. Collecting the seeds is another option, but it requires a lot of work. It gave me a great respect for pioneers who collected and thrashed their own grain! It requires drying out the seed heads, shaking out the thousands of seeds, and then separating the chaff from the seed. It was a fun activity to do with my dad, but I decided once is enough with this endeavor.

   cinnamon basilbasil

Herbs have so many different varieties and flavors to choose from. For example you can buy cinnamon basil, sweet basil, lemon, thai, licorice, lime, and the list goes on and on. The multitude of flavors can make cooking a pleasure.


Tarragon is another great addition to the garden. It begins to bloom in august. I like to add tarragon to salad, soups, and chicken dishes. It is great in soups if you like strong flavors. Tarragon also makes a great companion plant for pest management.


Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I throw it on pretty much anything. It’s aroma reminds me of Christmas trees. The bees enjoy pollinating the flowers when in bloom. For cooking, it can be used fresh or dried and goes best with Mediterranean dishes.


Stevia is an amazing plant that is 200x sweeter than sugar! I like to take the leaves and uses them as a sweeter in tea. To make a tea infusion, place herbs and stevia leaves in a jar. Then, poor hot water over the herbs and screw on lid. The lid keeps the medicinal volatile oils of the herb contained inside. When it is cool, you can poor the infusion into your cup and you have a homemade tea.


Some plants are not available at plant nurseries and must be started from seed. Yarrow is one of those plants, but is well worth the extra effort. It has medicinal value for use during fevers. It helps to open pores to release toxins, raise temperature, and increase over all circulation. It also has value as a biodynamic accumulator. That means that the plant gathers up nutrients from deep down in the soil and makes them available to other plants.


This last herb is a unique plant that I had never heard of until getting the seeds. It is called the toothache plant and is rightly named. Yesterday, my gums and teeth hurt after eating. As soon as I got home, I rushed to my garden and washed off a few leaves. I chewed the leaves and then moved it to the area that was hurting. The leaf juices caused some numbing on my tongue and helped to relieve the toothache. That is one amazing plant! Herbs are incredible for culinary, medicinal, and decorative use.

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