Springtime Herbs, Already?

What’s the best thing you can grow if you want to improve your health but have almost no gardening space or knowledge?  My vote is herbs.  They’re one of the most expensive items in the produce department.  And one of the easiest to grow.  And the health benefits?  Well, I don’t have enough space to go into all of them.

Last year my herbs included cilantro, oregano, basil, chives, spearmint, lemon balm, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  Yes, that was intentional.  I actually went out and bought thyme seeds so I could complete the quartet.  And as we enjoyed the flavors dinner after dinner, my daughter learned the words to Scarborough Fair.

And today, while I cooked a quiche with four fresh herbs, she asked me to play the song.  But alas, I need to replace my rosemary.  It didn’t make it through the weather.

But look what did!

Chives, oregano, and tiny lemon balm leaves.

Nothing else is ready to harvest.  The onions are barely an inch tall.  The lettuce and chard are just budding.  But I have oregano, thyme, sage, chives, and parsley.

The first four are perennials.  And one of the parsley plants lived through the frost.  How easy is that?

I mentioned health benefits.  These are just some of the health claims of the herbs I grew last year, taken from Nutri Herb and The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Oregano: Antifungal, antimicrobial, and source of vitamins A, C, and K.  Contains antioxidants (four times more powerful than blueberries,) iron, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Oregano and sage.

Cilantro: An anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, and for treatment of bad breath, it has also been found to lower cholesterol.

Basil: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and good for cardiovascular health.

Chives: Keep pests away from other garden crops.  Also, as part of the allium family, they’re good for the lymphatic (disease-fighting) system, and for prevention of cancer.

Spearmint: Good for stress and headache relief, and to help the digestive and respiratory systems.

Lemon balm: Sleeplessness, depression, anxiety.

Parsley: A rich source of Vitamin C, parsley is also good for circulation and rheumatoid arthritis.

Flat leaf Italian parsley, ready to come back for the season.

Sage: Good for indigestion, flatulence, insect bites, and topical infections, sage can also boost brain function.

Rosemary: Can lend antimicrobial properties to the foods you cook.  It’s also a mild appetite suppressant, good for the immune system, and asthma attacks.

Thyme: An astringent, antiseptic, and antifungal, thyme is also a good source of calcium.

Thyme beside baby onions. You can see lettuce and chard seedlings behind the thyme.

Did I mention that I grew all of these in the small spaces beside my other food plants?  I had no large space reserved for herbs.  And, several times during the summer, I advertised free herbs on Facebook because they had produced far more than my family needed, and had to be cut back before they went to seed!

So today, we enjoyed a vegetarian quiche flavored with fresh herbs.  That’s just the beginning.  In addition to those I mentioned I’m growing two kinds of basil, shallots, fennel, and dill.  Most of these will be in between other plants, or in buckets set on the driveway.

How easy is that?

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