Herb gardening has been around for centuries and the joys of an herbal garden is well know to many gardeners. Even beginner gardeners can have a high quality of success by starting with the basics and working their way up to a more complicated herbal garden. You can plant a container herb garden or an indoor herb garden. There are three categories of herbs that can be grown in you herbal gardens, culinary herbs, ornamental herbs, or medicinal herbs.
Culinary herb gardening's purpose is to add spice and flavor to your cooking. Culinary herbs are the herbs that use fresh or dried leaves in cooking. Some of the classic culinary herbs are parsley, oregano, rosemary and basil. You may even want to plant some sage and thyme. There is a difference between herbs and spices. Spices are seeds, roots, fruits, flowers, and bark while, as mentioned above, culinary herbs are fresh or dried leaves.
When considering your culinary herb garden your most important decision is the location. You will need a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun. The more sun the herb garden gets the more flavor will develop in the herbs. Try to place your culinary herb garden as close to the kitchen door as possible. This will ensure that the herbs will be used daily.
A simple and delicious way to use basil is to slice some juicy ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Overlap them on a plate, sprinkle on some extra virgin olive oil and chopped basil. It is also good with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Anyone that has grown a culinary herb garden and used the fresh herbs will tell you that the fresh herbs are superior over the dried herbs.
Ornamental herb gardening can make your gardens not only practical but beautiful too. By "ornamental" we mean that the primary current usage is purely decorative. Some of these ornamental herbs have a long history of medicinal or culinary usage. Pots of ornamental herbs add color and texture to balconies or patios. They are perfect for lining your flower beds.
A good example of an ornamental herb is Dittany of Crete, a favorite oregano herb of many herb gardeners. It will form a low mound and produce leaves with fine silvery hairs. You would never want to use this in cooking, it is strictly for show.
Rue is another good choice for garden borders. Its unusual blue green color offers contrast to bright showy blooms. The rue leaves can be used as a garnish but because of its bitter flavor does not work in cooking.
Ornamental herbs are just what they say, ornaments for your gardens. Ornamental herb gardening will add texture and interest to your flower beds.
Now we come to medicinal herbs. Before the 1900's medicinal herbs were used widely in the United States. Somewhere in the 1960's herbs used as medicine dwindled. Now, many doctors are prescribing medicinal herbs as well as mainstream medicine.
There are three ways that the medicinal herbs work on the body. Medicinal herbs have been known to strengthen an organ so that it can heal itself. Some medicinal herbs purge the body of toxins and illness, while others build up the immune system which will help in retarding illness.
There are many ways to use medicinal herbs. A few are infusions, herb vinegars, ointments, teas and tinctures. For example, to make a healing herbal tea, boil water and pour over the fresh herbs in a cup. Let it steep for 5 minutes but no longer then 10 for it will get bitter.
The medicinal herb stevia can be used as a natural sweetener and is easy to grow in an herbal garden. It also decrease tooth decay and gum disease if used as a mouth wash.
Before starting any course of medicinal herbs, be sure to notify your Doctor to see if they will interact with any medicines you are currently taking.
These are some of the basics of the three herb groups. Plan your herb garden, pick a bright sunny place and plant your herbs. Remember you can plant an herb garden in the ground, as a container garden or an indoor herb garden.
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