The Pleasures of a Home Herb Garden

Herbs have been used as curatives and flavorings for thousands of years. Early cultures found that their pungent flavors made food more palatable, that some would help heal wounds cleanly, and others ease pain and suffering.

They were strewn on the floor to release their scents as people walked on them, or carried to disguise unsanitary smells. Early Greek doctors compiled and recorded their herbal remedies, and these became the foundations of all western medicine.

Ancient Chinese, Indian and Egyptians also recorded and used herbs as medicine. Many of these same herbs are in use today by various cultures as their traditional medicines.

Throughout medieval times, herb gardens became important additions to homes and religious centers. Every housewife knew which herbs to use for home doctoring, preserving and cooking. Herbals were written, describing plants and stressing their virtues, both medicinal and superstitious.

It is interesting to note how many of the medicinal herb constituents are part of medicines today.

Herbs, as we tend to think of them today, are plants that we use in cooking, for aromatic scents or perhaps to enhance our health. In the last few years, there has been a revival of interest in and appreciation of herbs. More and more people grow them for their beauty as well as their many other uses. Old favorites as well as familiar herbs are more readily available, both fresh or dried, and in plant nurseries devoted to herbs, as well as seed catalogs.

A special garden is not necessary to grow herbs. These accommodating plants grow successfully in pots on windowsills, in tubs on patios and balconies, or in back yards.

Most people begin with culinary herbs, for their aromatic and flavorful foliage. If you want a culinary herb area, include some of those also with edible flowers and roots. All culinary herbs can be used fresh or preserved in some way.

Herbs can be perennials, living for several years, biennials with a two year life cycle; or annuals which grow, reproduce and die in a single year. Some are small and compact plants, others as large as shrubs. Many have beautiful foliage and blossoms, and can be grown interspersed with your landscaping.

Most herbs like a sunny location, with well drained soil, and you will find that most resist disease and insect infestations.

If you are just beginning your gardening adventure with herbs, a good way to begin is to purchase starter plants from a reputable nursery. You may only need one or two plants of each herb. You can grow these in containers, or transplant them outdoors to a suitable location.

Some of the common cooking herbs should be planted from seed, notably dill, fennel, and coriander. You will generally find herbs quite easy to grow if you take the time to learn the requirements of the plants you decide to grow.

Everyone has their own reasons for deciding to grow herbs; to flavor food, for potpourris to scent their home, for refreshing and invigorating teas or tisanes, for health enhancement or to even to control garden pests. Herb gardens can be a separate specialized type, or you can grow a variety of herbs for different uses.

Whatever your reasons for growing a home herb garden, you will enjoy the adventure, and reap the benefits for years to come.