By John Charleston
When most people think about herb uses they usually can think of only one: in cooking! Definitely one of the best herb uses is in the pot, however this doesn’t have to be the only use. Many herbs have many different properties that people overlook.
Many gardeners grow herbs for the simple reason that they are fantastic plants and beautiful to look at. The herbs that are great looking are known as ‘ornamental herbs’ and are often grown in bigger gardens. Of course many ornamental herbs are also culinary herbs too and you can really optimize space in your garden by growing these kinds of herbs. Most gardeners divide their ornamental herbs into different sections based on color and size (Big herbs at the fringes of the garden where they do not take up much space; smaller in the center). A great tip that experienced gardeners use is to plan their garden layout using photos and moving the photos around until the right layout is found. Photos of herbs can be easily found on the internet.
To really maximize your garden for the senses, it is a good idea to choose them based on aromatic as well as ornamental herb uses. Herbs have a range of smells from mild to strong, so it is worth selecting a couple of modest smelling ones to mix with the strong-smelling ones as only the potent herbs can be overpowering. If you want to be guaranteed a great-smelling garden you can choose herbs based on type (For example, all Italian garden herbs) or alternatively look for a combination that is often used in the perfume industry. This should give you a good base to enjoy experimenting from.
One common misconception about herb uses is that all herbs make great teas (Often called tisanes as ‘tea’ is recognized as that stuff you the British enjoy). This is simply not true, as anyone who has ever tried to make tea from a herb like valerian will attest! Those that are suitable make fantastic teas however. For an easy way to know which are which simply look at the popular varieties at your local health food store and copy them.
While the valerian herb uses are only really medicinal (Although I have a fondness for its flowers) it is not alone in being great for treating common ailments. In fact the myriad conditions that uses a herb as a treatment are vast. Herbs should be one of many healthy lifestyle choices as it is better to treat a condition from as many angles as possible. My site has further information about the medicinal uses for common herbs.
Naturally one of the best herb uses is for eating. Gardeners can turn their kitchens into a garden by growing herbs indoors or with a windowsill herb garden. Any store in the world will be packed full of herbs, so it is easy to know what herbs to grow. Also experiment as much as possible for some herbs go well together in unexpected way (Try basil and mint on freshly boiled potatoes to see what I mean!). Always try to harvest plenty, as it will help the plant to grow (Don’t get too carried away though). The excess herb will make great tisane or for medicinal herb uses.
The number of uses of a herb is huge. With a little forethought you can have a garden that not only gives you plenty to eat, but also smells great and improves your health. When you start to plan your garden, a bit of thought to your herb uses can really help you maximize the potential of your garden.