Special to The Record
1. Lavender. If you only have space for one herb, think about growing this one. It has it all – medicinal, aromatic, culinary. It is a wonderful antiseptic, soothing on bee stings, keeps mosquitoes at bay, and works wonders on headaches.
Can’t sleep? Feeling stressed? Having a tough day with the kids? Spritz a soothing lavender spray or add lavender to a simmering pot of water on the stove. The scent permeating the house will calm your senses…and perhaps the kids too. Be sure to set the timer so you do not let the pot go dry.
In the kitchen, try substituting lavender extract for vanilla in a pound cake. Or add a teaspoon or two of lavender flowers to your seasoning rub for a lamb roast. Awesome. But be careful. Lavender is strong; start with small amounts and increase until you have the desired flavour.
2. Oregano. Another herb for health and kitchen. This one works well on upset stomachs, respiratory problems, joint pain, skin ailments, and as an insect repellent.
Oil of oregano is very popular but it is not recommended for children. In fact, all essential oils are too potent for treating children. Use fresh or dried herbs for youngsters under six.
As a culinary herb…what is not to love?! Although touted as one of the original pizza herbs, it is delicious in just about every recipe.
3. Thyme. Another favourite…and surprise! It also has great medicinal benefits, along with its wonderful culinary uses. Effective as an antibiotic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory makes this herb an important ingredient in your medicine cupboard. Also good for treating skin ailments.
Pretty sure everyone knows how good thyme is in soups, stews, and sauces!
4. Rosemary. Next to lavender, I love running my hand up a branch of rosemary and placing my hand over my nose to inhale the freshly released oils. Sure perks you up…a good clue to one of its uses. Others include insect repellent, pain relief, breath freshener, and treating indigestion.
Not to be left off the list of health benefits, rosemary, along with many other herbs, is also a good source of Vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
You can throw in fibre and anti-oxidant benefits too.
When you harvest dinner from the garden, plan to pick a few sprigs of herbs too. Your taste buds and health will thank you.
Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in The Record.