Herbs are one of those things I could not live without in the kitchen. They add so much flavour that they can take a plain meal and transform it into something really special. Beyond taste, herbs, even of the culinary kind have a multitude of healing benefits. How nice to enjoy the flavour of a herb and know it is healing and nourishing your body at the same time.
In my clinical practice, herbs were the pinnacle of my practice. I love healing with herbs (liquid herbal extracts) because I believe they are the most restoring medicine we have. They are also a product of nature, not a laboratory! Most medicines, both pharmaceutical, and natural have a bit of a band-aid effect. They fix the problem but only whilst you are taking them.
This is where herbal medicine differs. Herbs work by truly healing and restoring the body to health and once you are well, you can withdraw treatment. I love nothing better than treating a patient until they are well, weaning them off their herbal tonic and saying goodbye to a healthy, happy patient. The other benefit of herbal medicine is being able to customise a treatment to suit an individual. This eliminates the need to take a fist full of tablets.
Personally, I know that herbal medicine (and managing my stress levels) has saved me from two devastating illnesses I have suffered in my lifetime. I was told by specialists that I would not recover from either illness. I have recovered and I no longer take the herbs that helped me to regain my health. I am happy to say that I am well.
Anyway, I digress. You don’t need a lot of space to plant herbs. A herb garden can be as big or as small as you like. A few pots on a window sill or a section of the garden. Think about the herbs you like to eat and grown these. Perhaps you cook more European food so you’d plant herbs like oregano, marjoram, parsley, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon, dill, chives and a bay leaf tree. If Asian or Middle Eastern flavours are more to your liking, plant garden mint, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, turmeric and a curry leaf tree. If you’re like me and you love it all, then I hope you have some space!
Herbs are such low care plants. They like a good amount of sun as a general rule so choose your patch wisely. They really take care of themselves and love to be picked regularly and roughly (great for kids). So if you aren’t eating enough, they’ll tell you by going to seed or flowering. If you are getting kids involved, just make sure they understand that not all plants are edible. My son loves to pick and eat his way through our garden. Luckily most of my plants and flowers are edible, but one day, as we walked through Bunnings, I caught him shoving petunia leaves in his mouth! He though they were quite delicious!
If you are thinking about starting your own herb garden, save money by taking a cutting or root stock from friends (anyone nearby me is very welcome to any of my stock). Plant it in a good soil with compost mixed through to get it going and make sure you break up the leaves on the stem. This makes the plant work hard to survive and grow strong. Also, make sure you plant in season. Mint (all varieties) needs to be planted in their own containers from the start as they tend to take over.
I’m no expert gardener, but I do grow a bit of my own produce and all of my herbs (and I’m learning fast). So I’d love to share my medicinal knowledge of herbs overcoming posts as well as how to grow your own and ways to use them in your cooking.