Herbs make a Kitchen Garden complete as these are valued the most for their culinary, medicinal and aromatic purposes. Herbs are often appropriately termed as “World’s Healthiest Foods” since they are the rich sources of healthy nutrients in our diet. They are packed with unique vitamins, anti-oxidants, essential oils, phytosterols, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory substances that boost our immunity against infections and diseases.
The Indian backyards have Holy Basil (Tulasi) which is worshiped by the women. Our ancestors knew its importance and hence involved it in our very culture. A few Tulasi leaves can be added to flavor your tea and to relieve from cold, cough and throat infections. The crushed leaves can be used as a relief from an insect bite.
Aloe vera is another herb found in most of the houses, has been used from ancient times for topical treatment of minor wounds and burns and skin irritations. It is also used as a natural skin moisturizer and for good hair growth.
Herbs add taste and flavors to our foods. They are used in seasonings, preparation of soups, sauces, salads and also as flavor drinks. Basil has a more distinct anise flavor and is often used in soups, stews, stir-fries and curry pastes. Pizzas cannot be complete without oregano. Parsley has a light peppery flavor that complements other seasonings. The cilantro roots are used to make Thai curry pastes. Mint lends its cooling, peppery bite to plenty of savory dishes. Fresh mint is perfect for summer-fresh salads, to liven up a sauce and or to brew fragrant teas. The cooling flavor is also used to temper spicy curries. Thyme can be paired with nearly any kind of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetable and popular in American and European cooking.
Herbs are a rich source of essential nutrients. Basil contains vitamins A, C and K, manganese, iron, copper, calcium, folate, omega-3 fats and magnesium, flavonoids (orientin and vicenin) with antioxidant properties and volatile oils (estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, and limonene) with antibacterial properties. Lettuce is a rich source of moisture, energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. The minerals and vitamins found in lettuce include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc along with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and K and folate. Parsley contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C, calcium, iodine, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur; Oregano is packed with vitamin K, manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber. It contains numerous phytonutrients—including thymol and rosmarinic acid—that function as potent antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. So if these herbs are utilized in our diet we can avoid artificial vitamin and mineral supplements to a greater extent.
Herbs such as Chamomile, Lavender, Basil and Lemon Balm are used for stress relief and mood enhancement in aromatherapy. A few of them are also used as natural mosquito and bug repellents like Citronella, Catnip, Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon Balm and they also attract bees and butterflies that aid pollination in the garden.
Herbs in Kitchen Garden offer us cost savings since they cost more when purchased from supermarkets (most of the times not utilized fully and hence wasted), better quality grown without using any chemicals and also enable us to harvest 24/7 round the year in the required quantity when the herb is at its peak freshness and flavor and also we can grow a wide variety of them rather than using a very few varieties that are available in the local market.
Herbs are easy to grow (from seeds as well as clippings), hardy, drought tolerant, disease and pest resistant, can be grown in very small spaces in small pots kept in the apartment patios or even on the window sills planters that get good amount of sunlight with minimal efforts and time for their maintenance.
With all these benefits the herbs offer us, we cannot ignore having a small portion in our kitchen garden or just a windowsill for them.
Share pictures of your herb garden. Do write in your experiences to us.