A lot of herbs are very easy to grow and make a very useful addition to your vegetable garden. You may like to create a separate section in your garden for growing herbs or you can plant them amongst your vegetables and even ornamentals as companion plants.
Here are 3 essential herbs to have in your garden:
Parsley – This popular and widely used herb is a great source of vitamin C, K and A as well as flavanoids which act as antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage and stress.
Parsley is a great digestive aid and blood tonic so instead of just using it as a garnish, as you’ll find in a lot of restaurants, eat some everyday to give yourself a health boost.
This herb is very easy to grow however the seeds can be slow to germinate. To help speed things up you can soak your parsley seeds in a wet paper towel overnight before planting. Parsley likes good sunlight, however it can withstand a little shade and can even be grown indoors in a bright spot. It also likes moisture so keep it well watered.
To harvest your parsley snip stems off close to the ground and choose the stems which are on the outside of the plant to encourage bushier, fuller growth. Once planted parsley will last for years in the ground. It can be heavily pruned, especially when the seed heads start to form, and will come back time after time.
Sweet Basil – Basil is originally a tropical plant so needs to be grown in the warmer months once the frosts are over. Like parsley, basil likes to be grown in full sun and kept well watered. Once growing you can tip prune the plants to encourage bushier growth and also pinch off the flower heads so that the plants produce more foliage.
Traditionally basil is used in Mediterranean dishes and goes well with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. If you have a few plants you can even make your own pesto. Basil is also used in a lot of Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
Sweet Basil is a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene and iron and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Basil can also improve circulation, increase immune function and reduce inflammation as well as other health benefits.
Rosemary – This wonderful herb which we traditionally associate with roast lamb prefers a sunny spot but will tolerate semi-shade and prefers adequate watering. Rosemary doesn’t tolerate heavy frosts so in cold climates you may have to replant each spring, however in areas with milder winters it can continue growing all year round.
Rosemary can be grown from seed, cuttings or by layering. This will enable you to grow some additional plants in pots indoors over winter if you live in a very cold climate.
Some of the health benefits of rosemary include relief from abdominal pain, gout and insomnia as well as being a great antiseptic. It is also thought that the aroma from rosemary helps to improve memory as does the use of rosemary essential oil.
With all these benefits as well as the delicious taste of different herbs they are certainly worth growing in your own garden. We’ll look at some other useful herbs in future articles.