Once you have put together your home herb garden, whether it is in your backyard or in pots, you need to figure out what to do with your herbs. Making use of herbs from the garden is lots of fun and here we are going to focus on two essential ways: cooking and medicine. Some plants that are primarily used in cooking can also have healthy side effects, while conversely some plants that you thought were just for home remedies can also taste great.
The first step in using the herbs from your home herb garden is to know the best way to remove the part of the plants that you need out of the entire plant. Many herbs, including the common varieties like basil and dill only yield edible leaves or shoots. Therefore just pinch off the amount of leaves you need with your fingers or, if you prefer use a pair of scissors - that way you will not crush the remaining part of the plant. Other plants from the home herb garden like horseradish, ginger or turmeric have edible roots which you need to dig up and wash, then simply slice or grate them.
Most times we think of using plants from the home herb garden for our cooking since they add many levels of flavor to the dishes and you will be able to reduce the amount of salt because most herbs make the food more savory and you get a delicious taste. Sage is a favorite of any home herb garden and it is a great rub for red meats like pot roast and mutton, while oregano is the quintessential ingredient in Italian cooking, giving it a slightly pungent and fragrant taste.
Herbs have also been used throughout the ages for their medicinal properties, but with the dawn of modern medicine, herbal remedies have taken a backseat to conventional medicine, although they are still a great option for maintaining your health. Many herbs from the home herb garden can be brewed in boiling water to create soothing and healthy teas, two of the most popular being mint and chamomile. While chamomile is great to seep in the evening as a relaxant, mint is more stimulant and is an excellent tea to have in the morning.
The home herb garden can be a wonderful source of medicinal herbs: St. John’s Wort is recognized to help relieve tension, both mental and physical, while wormwood has long been known to aid many digestive ailments. Woad was primarily used for its indigo-colored dye in the West, but has long been known to Chinese physicians as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral treatment and it is said that taken orally it can help prevent the flu. I grow several plants of anise in my home herb garden and I love drinking the aromatic tea obtained from the seeds. Anise syrup is well known for relieving coughs.
In addition to the common culinary and medicinal uses, some herbs can also protect your home herb garden and your house from unwanted pests. Dill is known to keep the white butterfly from laying eggs on cabbages, while fennel is a fantastic deterrent for fleas and that is why it is best grown just outside the dog kennel. Bay leaves keep weevils away; just put a leaf or two in the rice container or spread a few leaves on the pantry shelves where you store your grains and flour.
Because herbs come in a wide array of sizes and textures, they can create visual interest in the home herb garden while still being useful in several ways for cooking, in medicine and as pest deterrent, therefore using herbs from a home herb garden is a wonderful hobby that also offers practical advantages.
Lisa Summerfield is an herb garden lover and author of "Secrets To A Successful Home Herb Garden" - compulsory reading for anyone considering to grow a thriving home herb garden. Her website contains valuable information on using and growing herbs... Even if you have never grown a garden before! For a FREE 10 part mini-course on "The Secrets To Growing Delicious Herbs at Home!" go to http://herbgardensolutions.com