Summer is right around the corner. What better way to take advantage of summer than having fresh herbs! Herbs add so much flavor and vibrancy to any dish you make. They can make a good dish great or elevate a dish from blah to delicious!
In addition to flavor, herbs are full of nutritional and healing potential.
Here are just a few medicinal herb facts out of the myriad of uses:
- Parsley has been traditionally used to improve the function of the urinary system.
- Cilantro has the potential to detox heavy metals.
- Rubbing rosemary between your fingers and smelling it can stimulate cognitive functions, especially concentration. Steeping rosemary into a tea is known to help alleviate headaches.
- Peppermint works wonders to calm down agitated kids, soothe belly aches, and promote sleep. Both lemon balm and catnip have similar healing properties.
Many of us (including yours truly), do not have a green thumb and even when we want to plant, we hesitate in fear of killing all the seedlings.
FEAR NO MORE!! Here is a fool-proof way to plant an herb garden that can survive even my own ungreenest thumb. (Work with me here, I had to invent a word to describe my superb potential to kill plants!)
- Purchase a bag or two or six of organic compost. They are available at any local home improvement store.
- Purchase seeds for dill, parsley, cilantro, and scallion. Preferably organic and/or non-GMO. These are usually available anywhere, in regular and/or health food stores.
- Place the bag(s) anywhere you have space. Make sure to have the bag on the long side, so that the soil level will be higher, then if you lay the bag flat, the way they are displayed when sold. Sun exposure is not an issue, so they can be in shade or sun.
- Cut off the plastic from what is now the top of the bag, leaving about 2 inches around the perimeter to prevent the soil/compost from falling out.
- Move some soil over to a side, so that you create a small depression through the whole top area in the bag. Water the soil and sprinkle the seeds. Use no more than one type of seed per compost bag.Then, cover the seeds with the soil you moved over, no more than one inch thickness, and water again.
Done! There is nothing more to do than to watch your garden grow. You may water, if the soil becomes dry, however, due to the nature of compost and the fact that it is enclosed in a bag, the soil usually retains plenty of moisture and, most likely, will not require watering.
Here is an alternate option. You may use this compost bag method to grow herbs that are already potted. Try mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, or whatever else floats your boat…perhaps dill, parsley, cilantro, scallions or chives!
The planting process is very similar:
- Prepare the bag with the opening as described above.
- Make an indentation deep enough to fit the pot. Water.
- Remove the herb plant with the soil attached and plant into the depression you prepared.
- Cover with soil, compressing it around the stems of the herbs and water.
Fini! You can use up to three pots of herbs in one compost bag.
Herbs are great in almost any food…especially when they are coming from your very own garden! Add herbs to salads, soups, or stews. Brew them into tea or make them into pesto (which is an Italian basil condiment), or gremolata (an Italian parsley based condiment) or invent your own creation! Fresh herbs can give another layer of flavor to cooked dishes or they can can be used as a beautiful garnish. Cooked herbs give off their nutrients, especially minerals, into the cooking liquid, so make sure to slurp up that soup or stew!
If you have too many herbs, chop them and freeze them by the spoonful, to use in the winter. You can also preserve your extra herbs by combining them, in a food processor with extra virgin olive oil and real sea salt. The resulting sauce (which can be made thicker or thinner with adjustment in the amount of olive oil you use), will keep in the fridge for a few days to a few weeks. The more olive oil and salt you use, the longer the shelf life.
To Your Health!
This post is courtesy of Yevgenia Libkhen, our staff dietician/nutritionist.
Image courtesy of clairedekens at FreeDigitalPhotos.net