This year I started a beginner’s herb garden so I can craft my own wonderful tea creations. What better way to fall in love with tea even more than to make your own blends?
I’m kind of a tea freak. I often buy my favorite go to kinds like the black tea variety pack from Bigelow or the decaf black tea from Trader Joe’s. Sometimes though I like to venture out into the unknown tea world. That’s where crafting my own tea come in.
Where to Plant
Knowing where to plant can be a flexible thing.
I would advise a few things for sure though. Be sure that your plants will get at least 5 hours of sunlight. Most herbs do not need full sun. My herb garden is on the west side of our house so it only gets about 6 hours of sun a day. It is doing very well with this amount of sunlight.
I would strongly recommend focusing on two key things when selecting your herb garden location.
- Water source location
Be sure that where you plant is within a reasonable distance of your water source. You will need to water your herb garden regularly. Mine is watered daily here on the homestead. The daily watering may be in part to the fact that my herb garden is in a raised bed.
Be sure that the location you choose will not leave you hauling bucket after bucket of water a great distance. If your water source is too far away you may throw in the towel before you develop a love of your herbs.
- Distance from the house
Try to keep your herb garden as close to your house as possible. Not only will many of your herbs help deter pests but it is so handy to just pop outside quick to grab a handful of parsley while you are cooking dinner. I may have done exactly this a few dozen times already.
Like your water source, you need to keep your herb garden within a reasonable distance of your home. You will be more likely to use the herbs if they are in a close proximity. Having a few planters on your deck is a great starting point.
What to Plant
What are you going to use the most? Not really sure? Ok what do you most often purchase from the store that you could grow yourself instead? How much should you plant? Are you looking for a plant with particular health benefits?
I know that can be a tough set of questions. So let’s break it down and start with the basics.
Focus on planting what benefits your family the most.
Please note that I started with the very basics. I answered the questions above and determined what my family could use the most. Those are the items I planted.
Herbs We Use in Food
When it comes to nutrients I was happy to see the nutrition stats on parsley, which you can find right here. This little green herb is packed with both vitamin A and K. Parsely also supports bone health (hey ladies if you are like me and aren’t getting enough dairy this one is for us), and is loaded with antioxidants.
My favorite finding on parsley is that it has antibacterial properties. Talk about a powerhouse of benefits in one little green leaf. This must be why Peter Rabbit’s mother gave it to him when he was feeling poorly.
Try adding a minced up bundle to your dinner tonight.
Chives are loaded with vitamins, minerals and of course antioxidants. These green tasty pieces are known to help improve bone health as well. You can find a ton of health benefits on chives right here.
Chives are something that we use in our homemade ranch dressing or dip. I’m planning to use a few of these with steaks and some summer salads. Most of our chives will be dried and then used for the dips and dressing I mentioned. They are great fresh on a mashed potato.
Oregano is known to help keep you healthy. It has been said that Oregano essential oil is antibacterial, antiviral and may help decrease inflammation. You can learn more about the benefits of Oregano here.
In our household we use a LOT of spaghetti sauce. I make one sauce and it is our base for spaghetti, lasagna, chicken Parmesan and just about every other Italian dinner. I’m really excited to use our fresh herbs in this sauce this year. I will probably also be drying some since our plant is growing really well right now.
I planted rosemary in our garden just so we could use it with steaks. Unfortunately, our dog seems to have something against our rosemary. Since it was planted he has dug it up on three different occasions. He has decided that where it is planted is where he needs to sit or nap while he waits for us.
Sadly, we probably will only get one cutting of rosemary because of this.
After reading up on the health benefits of rosemary, I’m really bummed that we won’t be getting a crop in. I was surprised to see it is loaded with iron, calcium and B-6. These are all vitamins that I am trying to add more of into my diet. I will be finding ways to start adding rosemary into our diet now so that next year we will plant even more and have a big harvest to enjoy. I’m also considering digging up this years plant in the fall and moving it into a pot in the house.
Thyme is something that we use in our cooking as well. I was really happy to learn about all the pest fighting properties of thyme. Our plant here is growing beautifully and Sir Swine has said he noticed decreased mosquitoes and flies around the house.
To learn more about the health benefits of thyme check out this post. Now please excuse me while I go sniff my plant to boost my mood.
I have to be honest, when it comes to dill I didn’t know about all the medicinal uses there are. Talk about an amazing herb to have in your garden.
On our farm we primarily use our dill for the obvious choice of pickling veggies. Our two favorites are pickles and dilly beans.
I’m also a big fan of keeping some pickle juice around our house all the time.
A homeopath once told me a fever reducing secret. You simply soak your child’s socks in pickle juice, placing them back on their feet and covering them with another pair of socks. This strange thing helps to pull out a fever. We have actually used this and found success with it. We once did it on a piglet that had contracted strep during birth. Worked wonders and surprised us.
This guy is well loved in our household. We enjoy adding it to salad, tomatoes and pasta salads even. There is so much great flavor in basil and it is so easy to grow.
Although it is best enjoyed fresh, I still plan to dry a some to add to my spice container in the pantry. The leaves on basil are very thin so they breakdown easily. This will make drying it challenging but saving it for sprinkling on later an easy task.
The health benefits of basil are as amazing as dill. This little herb helps with so many tummy troubles, increases your mood and cleanses your liver. WOW right?!?! I’m thinking I would soak this as a daily water so we can cleanse our livers.
Herbs used in Teas
Peppermint is a go to remedy for headaches for many. This herb is great for making into a quick tea. You can make an easy sun tea recipe with just a jar, lid and the sun. In our household I’m trying to make a few new creations with peppermint but more on those in another post.
The health benefits of peppermint are pretty diverse. This is a great plant to have around to help treat an upset tummy but go light on first time tea drinkers. I also enjoy a cup of this when my allergies go a bit wonky to help clean my congestion.
A caution on peppermint for nursing mothers. Peppermint decreases your milk supply so this is not what you want to drink to increase your milk production. However if you are planning to wean this could help. Also if weaning try drinking real lemonade 🙂
To be completely honest I planted spearmint with the same ideas in mind as peppermint. I really thought that having two different flavors would be a nice thing. I have both to make tea but spearmint has not been my go to choice.
Spearmint’s health benefits really surprised me though. The most surprising thing was to find that it may help with memory. I am always looking for ways to improve my long term memory so this is something that I may be taking into consideration. I’m going to start looking for more ways to add spearmint to my ingredients list besides tea.
I LOVE lemongrass. No I mean I really love it.
This is probably my favorite smell in the entire world. I use it in all of my bathrooms, my car, on my essential oil bracelet, everywhere. Planting a lemongrass plant was like a dream come true for me.
I have wandered out to the garden just to snap a piece off to smell and chew on. This is my plant. It genuinely calls to me.
Lemongrass has some wonderful health benefits as well. Considering I have genetically high cholesterol, respiratory issues and that it can help detoxify the body, I think lemongrass is what my body craves. Read up on the many benefits to see why I love this plant so much. I bet you will too.
Lemon balm is another one of my favorites. I’m a lemon lovin’ girl.
The leaves on lemon balm are much easier to grow that what I have found with my lemongrass. For this reason I often pick many leaves from my lemon balm but it is still branching out and thriving. It’s a very hardy and prolific plant to grow.
The health benefits of lemon balm are pretty diverse as well. I will be taking cuttings of this to help create something for my mom for insomnia.
Is a Beginner’s Herb Garden Right for You?
Choosing to start a beginner’s herb garden is a big step for some people but you can start as small as you like. If you are nervous consider adding just one or two container plants to your patio this year. Choose the herbs you use the most often or adore the most so that you know you will use and enjoy them.
Beginning gardening is something that my friend Pat at Grow Health 4 You and I firmly believe in. Start today. One plant is all it takes to develop a love of gardening.
Cultivate your home with these amazing plants and you will be happy that you did.
Be sure to stay tuned for my future posts where I will cover harvesting and recipes that we use our herbs in.