10 Must-Have Herbs & Spices for Your Garden
Did you know that modern medicine is based on herbal medicine? When it comes to treating sickness, people don’t have pharmacies to run to back in the day. People relied on medicinal herbs to cure a variety of health ailments.
If you love growing plants and you’re keen on starting your own kitchen garden, why not throw in a few healing herbs and spices into the mix? With these medicinal herbs and spices, you could season your favorite dishes with aromatic herbs freshly plucked from your own garden while treating a variety of health ailments in a pinch:
Thyme is easily one of the most popular of all aromatic herbs. This healing herb grows like weeds but it's packed with flavor. Medicinally, thyme is used to treat inflammation. It soothes mouth sores and swollen gums when prepared as a mouth gargle or as a tea. It is a powerful decongestant too so it's a great remedy for common colds and coughs. It works by thinning out thick mucus so it can be expelled easily.
Thyme is so easy to grow. It thrives in sunny spots and requires a well-draining potting mix. Because thyme loves a slightly alkaline soil, add a little lime in the soil. Thyme doesn't grow too big so it’s a perfect addition to a small container garden or kitchen garden.
Chamomile is best known as a calming tea that promotes better sleep. This plant comes in two varieties, German chamomile and Roman chamomile. Roman chamomile is often used as a groundcover while German chamomile is taken as an herbal tea.
The soothing scent of German chamomile helps alleviate stress and anxiety. Its calming effects promote sleep and ease the digestion. Chamomile extracts are also used to minimize skin allergies and reduce inflammation, itchiness, or redness.
German chamomile is so easy to grow despite its wispy, delicate appearance! The herb produces beautiful, daisy-like blossoms and floppy foliage. German chamomile can be grown as an annual plant but it re-seeds itself like a perennial plant. This herb could also become invasive if left on its own.
Parsley isn't used for garnishing alone! This medicinal herb has been used throughout history to improve digestion and promote better bladder and kidney health. You see, parsley is packed with essential nutrients such as vitamins A, B, and C as well as iron and potassium. Parsley helps lower the blood pressure, keeping the heart, arteries, and nerves healthy.
Growing parsley is easy, just use organic-rich, well-drained soils. This herb loves the full sun but it will thrive in partially shady environments too. Parsley will require little maintenance, just water occasionally and you're done!
Peppermint belongs to the genus Metha, plants that are known to impart a cooling sensation when applied on the skin or added to certain foods. Peppermint can be mixed in sauces, salads, desserts, and drinks. This herb is packed with vitamin A, a fat-soluble nutrient that promotes better eye health. In addition, vitamin A works as an antioxidant, protecting the healthy cells from oxidative stress.
Peppermint is an excellent source of menthol, a compound that alleviates irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and relieves indigestion. Menthol is an effective decongestant too. Growing peppermint will require more involvement but it's not a high-maintenance plant. Just water the peppermint plant regularly and use nutrient-rich soils. This herb cannot tolerate dry conditions so set a pot in a partially shady spot. That said, if you are growing peppermint plants to harvest its oil, set the plant in the full sun to increase its potency and medicinal qualities.
Holiday dishes are not complete without a generous sprinkling of rosemary leaves! Rosemary leaves are often used fresh or dry when cooking a variety of meats and poultry. The leaves could also be used as an ingredient in seasoning, sauces, and marinades. The rich aroma of rosemary perks up the senses and sends the stomach grumbling!
Apart from being used as an herb, rosemary is also prized for its medicinal qualities. This herb boosts brain and heart health. It stimulates the central nervous system and the circulatory system, ensuring that every organ in the body is supplied with oxygen-rich blood. In addition, rosemary is used to treat low blood pressure, painful joints, and sciatic pain.
Rosemary thrives in mild to cool climate and it loves bright light. Always prune the foliage so the plant stems won't grow too lanky. It's best to grow rosemary indoors in a pot during the winter season.
Sage is often used to season Thanksgiving dishes because its pine-like aroma makes holiday stuffing even more delicious! This herb is perfect for seasoning a variety of meat and poultry dishes too. Sage is also prized for its antiseptic properties. It aids in digestion, heals mouth sores and gum inflammation as well as promote better oral health. Sage supports memory and brain performance while also protecting from certain cancers.
The best part? Sage is so easy to grow because it’s incredibly drought tolerant. This plant has a long growing season so you can harvest sage for months on end! Sage loves well-drained soil and it can tolerate the cold. It is, however, prone to mildew so try not to over-water the plant to discourage fungal growth.
Turmeric, which is similar to ginger, is prized for its potent medicinal properties. This root crop is renowned for its powerful antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Turmeric protects from common infections, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Cooking with turmeric reduces your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain cancers. This spice is used the same way as ginger but it imparts a golden yellow color to dishes.
Just like ginger, turmeric is so easy to grow. All you need is a few pieces of rhizome to grow pots of turmeric. Turmeric can be grown indoors and outdoors. You can use fresh turmeric to season a variety of dishes or make your own turmeric powder for curries, garam masala, and other spice mixes.
Cumin is a spice made from the dried seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant. This spice is often used in Latin American, Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian cuisines. This spice is prized for its earthy, warm flavor and aroma. Cumin can be used on its own or mixed in a spice blend such as garam masala and curry powder blends.
Cooking with cumin minimizes your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and digestive problems. This spice promotes better digestion and is a rich source of iron. Studies show that cumin normalizes cholesterol levels.
Growing cumin is relatively easy. Just sow the seeds indoors or outdoors in a sunny spot. Keep the soil moist but never wet. It will take about 4 to 5 months to prepare the cumin plant for harvest. Carefully harvest the tiny, elongated fruits then dry them in the sun and clean the cumin fruits by winnowing.
Fennel is a type of perennial plant with a bulbous base that imparts a sweet, almost-anise flavor. From the pollen to the seeds, all parts of the fennel plant are edible but the bulb is the most sought after by chefs. Dried fennel seeds are often used in whipping up savory dishes but are also used in salads and slaws.
Cooking with fennel improves heart and bone health because the seeds are packed with nutrients that promote normal blood pressure and healthy bone structure. In addition, fennel minimizes the risk of inflammation, digestion problems, and certain cancers. Fennel can be tricky to transplant so it's best to grow the seeds directly into pots. Use nutrient-rich, well-draining soils for best results.
Rounding up our list of healing herbs and spices that you should add to your kitchen garden is mustard! Mustard is a great source of essential nutrients and antioxidants that protect healthy cells from oxidative stress. Used as a spice, mustard reduces internal and external inflammation. It also boosts the heart, artery, and bone health. Mustard also reduces your risk of certain cancers.
Mustard is best grown from seeds using a shallow tray. Transplant the seedlings once they are established or until the plants have developed two sets of true leaves. Always set the pots in a sunny location and water regularly.
Most of the herbs and spices in this list are available in your local supermarket but wouldn’t it be better to have your own fresh supply right in your kitchen? With these gardening tips, you can grow your favorite herbs and spices that you can harvest to season everyday dishes.