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Herb Gardening


Herbs are versatile and by far are my favorite plants to grow. Most commonly, herbs are used in teas and can be found in supplement form. Growing herbs at home is an easy and affordable option. These tips will help guide you on your herb-growing journey.


Quick Tips:

First, decide where the herbs will be kept – indoors or outdoors. If keeping indoors, it’s easily accessible, no need for weeding, and have a year-round growing season. Growing outdoors enables higher yields, promotes flavorful crop, and there’s more space available.

Little maintenance is needed to keep herbs healthy. In fact, you probably won’t need to do much of anything until it’s time to harvest.

Also keep in mind that if you have allergies, flowering herbs may cause an allergic reaction; specifically if you have a pollen allergy.

Must-Have Herbs:

Echinacea Purpurea (Coneflower)

  • Favorite of gardeners everywhere!

  • Full sun, partial shade

  • Drought tolerant, but keep soil moderately moist

  • To make tea, steep dried flowers in boiling water covered for 10 minutes

Chamomile

  • A must have for every herb pantry. This flowering herb can be tricky to grow outdoors.

  • Plant seeds in early spring for summer harvesting. It’s best when planted -alone in the garden or in pots.

  • Chamomile grows best in cooler climates and full sun.

  • To make tea, Steep flowers, fresh or dried, in boiling water for 5 minutes. Add honey to taste.

Peppermint

  • Grows best in containers, as it is invasive plant.

  • Partial shade (not direct sunlight).

  • Water 1 inch per week.

  • Do not cut until the plant is at least 10 inches tall.

  • To make tea, add 2 tsp (in a diffuser) in boiling water for 10 minutes

Lavender

  • Depending on the variety, most are only for external use – lotions, bath soaks, etc.

  • Easy to grow – Full sun and well-drained soil

  • Hang in small bunches to dry; when completely dried, carefully pull flowers from stem

  • Lavender Bath Salts: Mix 1 cup Epsom salts with 2 tablespoons dried lavender. Save in an air tight container for later use

Happy Harvesting!

Take a look at these quick tips to help you harvest herbs easily and how to dry them.


Time:

  • Pull flowers at the peak of harvest – as soon as flowers bloom. Rosemary Gladstar said it best: “dried herbs should look, taste and smell as close as possible to the plants when they were alive

Cleaning:

  • Shake or brush (with hands) to remove debris.

  • Do not wash before drying, as it promotes mold growth.

Drying:

Some options are:

  • Dry at 100°F or just below on a baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven.

  • Dry in a dark place with good air circulation, such as under a porch.

  • Lay flat on a screen or hang in small bunches outside to dry. When drying herbs on a screen, keep in full sun. Use twine or yarn to tie bunches together. Hang outside close to the house or other building. Let dry for 48-72 hours.

Storage (Dried Herbs):

  • Store in airtight bags, jars, and canisters in cool, dim places.

Storage (Fresh Herbs):

  • Refrigerate to preserve freshness.

  • Freeze in vacuum-sealed bags.

CJ LaRose is a Senior Supervisor and Bookkeeper at The Healthy Grocer. She is passionate about gardening and living a healthy lifestyle.

Sources:

http://www.planetnatural.com/herb-gardening/

http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/Herbs-anyone-can-grow.aspx

http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/herb-gardening/how-to-dry-medicinal-herbs-zmgz16mjzolc.aspx


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