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Top 5 Herbs for the Homestead

KellyWith winter in full swing I have been busy doing a lot of reading, dreaming, and planning for the planting that will need to be done before we know it. I have been doing a lot of research on herbs — their uses, how to grow them, and just other general information about them. I have found that herbs are truly fascinating! So, along with vegetables this year, I think I will try my hand at growing some herbs. You do not need a lot of land — or even any land, really — to grow herbs, as they will grow in patio pots or in a sunny windowsill.

Herbs  

Here is a roundup of the top five herbs I am going to try to grow this year. Side note: as part of my “research” on the subject, I did visit a local herb shop to see how they use their herbs in teas and other concoctions. As they noted (and I will echo their sentiment), while the use of herbs can aid in overall general health, my suggestions for their uses are in no way intended to treat or cure any disease or ailment. Disclaimer aside, here are my five:

Chamomile. Chamomile is so pretty; it resembles teeny tiny daisies. The flowers can be used in a tea as a mild sedative for relaxation and can also soothe upset tummies, especially when caused by excess gas and bloating. Good to know after eating all of those holiday goodies!

Lavender. Lavender seems to be the most common herb that people know about, and for good reason. Besides its obvious beauty and lovely scent, it can be used to assist in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and headaches. Lavender can also be used as a culinary herb for adding flavor to baked goods and drinks. If you have never tried lavender lemonade, I highly recommend it!

Raspberry. I know what you are thinking ... raspberry is a fruit! And yes, you’re right! But besides the luscious berries a raspberry tree provides (excellent for making jam, by the way), the leaves of the raspberry tree can be used to make a tea that strengthens the uterus during pregnancy, can be used to ease diarrhea, and even to help with a sore throat. I like that the raspberry tree has two parts that can be used for something — very thrifty! We have a raspberry bush in our yard that needs some tending to, so I already feel ahead of the game on this one.

Rosemary. Rosemary is a popular herb that is very easy to grow (I hear). It can be used in an oil tincture to help heal wounds and to assist in hair growth.

Mint. Oh, the smell of fresh mint! Mint is also very easy to grow (my husband swears when he planted it a few years back it took over the yard, so be careful!) and has multiple uses, including aiding in digestion and as a natural bug repellent. Peppermint oil used topically has a cooling sensation that helps with headaches. I like to put fresh mint in my water with some slices of cucumber. It feels like you are at the spa, and you are aiding your digestion. Win-win!

A thorough book about herbs and their uses is The Complete Herbs Sourcebook: An A to Z Guide of Herbs to Cure Your Everyday Ailments by David Hoffman (the book I’m currently reading). Books about growing herbs are next on my list to seek out, then after that I’d like to read some books on making teas and tinctures. Any suggestions?