The Ease and Magic of Growing Your Own Herbs

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

Someone mentioned to me this morning that they wish they had a farm.  I personally have been wishing that I had a space for a real garden.  I have recently embraced the use of square foot gardening and one thing I decided to do this year in my garden that has me practically giddy is planting herbs in the space that I normally have planted flowers.  I have to tell you, I’m thrilled with the results.  I never fully knew about the ease and magic of growing your own herbs!  I can’t believe I’ve been paying $3 to $8 for a bottle of herbs that are easily grown in my “flower” garden!  Let’s start at the beginning.

Most herbs love moist, sunny areas. They like to be fertilized with Miracle-Gro or Osmocote about once every two week (whereas most garden items like being fertilized every week).  Herbs can be grown EASILY in the ground or in a pot or even in your home in the window sill or under a grow light.  While I’ve notoriously killed a lot of plants I’ve attempted to grow in the past, you can rest assured that I haven’t killed a single herb yet.  (Hint—that means that they’re easy to grow.)

Harvest the herb as it grows. So long as you leave a few leaves remaining on your plant, feel free to pluck away. Oregano and basil respond to this particularly well as they tend to get more and more bushy as you pluck.

You don’t have to eat them all as you grow them. Isn’t that great?  You can EASILY dry them yourself simply by laying them out on a paper towel after you’ve cleaned them.  Then put them in a jar (I use the Foodsaver to seal the jar) and PRESTO!  You’ve got your own “expensive” bottle of herbs.  (Remember, you can keep getting into your bottle and simply reseal it each time with your Foodsaver.)

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

I LOVE how my “flower garden” smells.  Rosemary, basil, dill, oregano.  Yummy!  Fresh chopped basil on fresh chopped tomatoes with chunks of soft mozzarella, ground black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar is one of my absolute favorite dishes.  While I love using the fresh herbs, I’ve also surprisingly enjoyed the herbs that I’ve dried myself as well.  I love how my spaghetti sauce turns out with my dried oregano.  Fresh rosemary on tuna or lamb is delectable.  Sage… oh. I’m getting hungry just telling you about all of these!

Russian sage goes wild fairly quickly.  But it has a beautiful purple blossom that accompanies it, so let it run wild, harvest it, and enjoy.  The Chinese actually think we Americans are crazy for drinking our expensive teas while they enjoy the simple effectiveness of sage tea and its health benefits.  Sage tea is good for settling a nervous stomach, relaxing, calming indigestion.  It’s also excellent for the health of your liver and kidneys, halts bleeding wounds when applied as a salve, and is a fever reducer as well as a great tonic for your hair.  Be sure you don’t boil sage tea.  Just steep it.

For those of you who love saffron rice but hate paying an arm and a leg for the saffron, you can substitute the yellow marigold blooms!  I like to plant a few marigolds among my herbs to help with the health of the garden and keep away pests.  Wow, a substitute for saffron AND a pest repellent?!  Don’t ya just LOVE the miracles of nature sometimes?  As a side bar, you can also substitute turmeric for saffron, but it’s a bit overpowering in taste, so I don’t care to use it.

Now let’s look at just how far we can go with growing herbs in our emergency preparedness.  As you know, there are a lot of herbs (especially teas) that are used for medicinal purposes.  Horehound and catnip are a couple of those and they are so easy to grow, dry, and then jar.

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

Catnip is great for infections, including chicken pox or measles.  It’s also useful for cold and flu, even bronchitis or asthma and has long been used in years past to relax colicky babies.  Other common uses have been for headaches, menstrual cramping, sinusitis, constipation, stomach flu, croup, burns, insect bites, and cuts.

Horehound tea is ideal as a mild laxative, cough suppressant, cleansing for wounds, and gastrointestinal disturbances.  (Note, just as ingesting large quantities of Nyquil aren’t good for your heart, ingesting LARGE quantities of horehound may cause an irregular heartbeat so don’t go overboard.)

Ultimately, growing my own herbs doesn’t feel like “gardening.”  There’s very little weeding and a speedy sense of gratification.  There really is ease and magic in growing your own herbs, not to mention the extensive money savings.  Growing my own herbs is one more of my preparedness tasks that I love doing that will bless the lives of those I love in the event of a crisis.

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Tell you what. Before giving up on them altogether, try growing some inside, near your window sill. Be sure to give them some kind of a miracle grow every other week. Herbs don't have to be babied, but they sure do love it as well. Another suggestion woudl be in a pot right outside your front door. This way it's easy to access them and take care of them. I definitely don't have a green thumb, so I'm certain that ANYBODY else can grow these things. And lavendar, horehound, catnip, and Russian Sage practically grow themselves, so I'm certain anyone can grow that.

I absolutely love herbs. Love the way they smell. Love the way they taste. Love cooking with them. But every time I get a bug to start a mini herb garden something gets messed up and I am left with dying herbs. I don't think I have a green thumb.

When I have a big yard I'm going to try it again.

Thanks for the tip! My basil always dies!!! And that's the one I love the most! lol

I've wanted to do some herb gardening but have to do them in containers because I'm in an apartment. I would like to just have one container with rosemary, basil, and oregano. Is that feasible or should each have their own container? If I can do them in one 36 x 8 x 8 window box, is there a preferred number and layout of plants? If they need their own container, how big a container for each plant?

Thanks in advance and for the great blog!

They will be fine in the same container. The only one I can think of that doesn't get along well with others is Parsley, and that's only because it doesn't like the soil as wet as the others. You'll be fine with a radius of a regular drinking cup for each of them. REmember, you can keep plucking the leaves away. With a window box like that, I'd actually plant at LEAST 5 or 6 of them there. But you've got lots of great space there! Have FUN!

Thanks. I do vegetables indoors, but have never tried herbs. I'll have to give it a go!

Great Post Kellene. Sounds like you have a real nice herb garden. Something that's good to have!

Thanks for the info! What a great idea to plant herbs where we usually plant flowers! Love it! I also appreciate the info about drying your own herbs - a lot of mine go to waste because I'm just barely learning to cook with fresh herbs.

Yeah, I'm cringing at all of the herbs I've wasted in the past. You know those "fresh ones" you can buy in the refrigerated section in the store? I've wasted so many of those. But what I should have done when I was finished using them for my designated dish was to dry them out. I'm kicking myself over that mistake.

One year my basil and cilantro literally took over my small courtyard area. I use cilantro a lot in Mexican recipes and love having my own source of dried. It's amazing how quickly herbs dehydrate, which is a big plus for growing them.


Considering how expensive they are in the stores, I'm convinced that if more folks knew how easy they were to grow and dry--nearly effortless, they would do more of them at home.

russian sage flowers are edible... russian sage leaves are somewhat poisonous to eat

indeed the flowers can be used successfully in salads. They are slightly sweet. However, the LEAVES can indeed be used to season meat. However, I prefer the sage which contains "oficinalis" in the botanical name b/c then I know it's good medicially and in the kitchen. If it's cooked, it's not toxic, just like elderberries.


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