With summer right around the corner, those who love to dig around in the dirt are putting on their gardening hats and dusting off their spades. As someone interested in holistic living, you might be wondering what else you can grow alongside your heirloom tomatoes that will increase your health.
Herbs are a wonderful addition to any garden and you don’t have to be an expert gardener to grow them. Outdoor, indoor, summer, or year-round. Some can be grown in pots on the porch and others are better in the soil outside. What you grow depends on what you are interested in doing with the herbs.
Herbs are a fantastic way to experience nature and amazing flavors in your food. They are also a way to incorporate self-care and relaxation. You can make teas for sipping, sprays for smelling, and salves for healing. (Check out the recipe for this below.)
While you’re shopping the gardening seed displays or embracing the unusual offerings at your local farmer’s market, here are a few herbs and plants to watch for that you can include in your holistic routine.
Herbs for Year Round Holistic Health
Dill: This is an easy-to-grow plant with a great flavor. Mix into your favorite foods, such as roasted potatoes or salad dressings, or dry it for future use. Dill is known to be great for digestion, so sprinkle it liberally on foods you enjoy.
Oregano: The quintessential Italian and Mexican food spice, oregano is also excellent for digestion and skincare. You can eat it, turn it into a tea, make a salve, or even craft a tincture with it. It’s easy to grow, just make sure to manage it or it will take over your garden!
Thyme: This beautiful plant smells great, attracts bees, and is great in food. Thyme also has excellent antioxidant properties and helps to fight off colds. It’s hardy and can tolerate colder climates.
Garlic: You either love or hate garlic, but did you know it has incredible medicinal properties? Now you have a good excuse for garlic breath! Garlic is fun to grow and easy to store after harvesting. It’s great for keeping away colds, kicking viruses, and healing all manner of ailments. Toss it into a tincture for sore throats for a faster healing process.
Basil: The main benefits of basil are aromatherapy and incredible taste. With so many varieties available, you could dedicate a whole section of your garden to just basil. There are also a ton of medicinal properties in basil that makes it a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial aid. You can dry basil or turn it into pesto and freeze it for year-long enjoyment.
Peppermint: This is another herb that belongs in everyone’s garden. There are several varieties, as well as related plants (such as spearmint). They all have their own unique, fragrant smell and flavor. Peppermint is excellent for digestion, flavor, and dealing with headaches (especially in the essential oil form). It makes a delicious tea that is perfect for after-dinner sipping on the back porch.
Calendula: If you enjoy using herbs for skincare, this is an important one to plant. Calendula produces beautiful flowers and the plant is known for its ability to help with all manner of skin issues, from dermatitis to rashes to burns. It’s an all-around great plant to include in all your salves.
Lavender: When you think garden herbs, this one probably popped up in your mind. Popular for its intoxicating fragrance, lavender is known as the soothing and calming herb. From dried herb form to essential oil form, this plant is incredible for relaxation and healing the skin.
Other do-not-miss herbs and plants for your garden to boost holistic health:
- Lemon Balm
- Plantain leaf
- Roses (for rose hips and rosebuds)
- Raspberry leaf
To up your self-care game and get started with some simple herbs, try the following recipes:
Relaxing Sipping Tea
1 cup dried peppermint leaf
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
Mix together in your favorite container. Place 1-2 teaspoons of the mix in a mug and fill with hot water. Alternatively, use a tea sachet or spoon to keep the loose mix separate from your water. Strain out the mix after 5-10 minutes. Stir in a little honey, maple syrup, or stevia if sweetness is desired. Enjoy!
Refreshing Summer Salad
1 small bunch of basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 small chunk of ginger, peeled and chopped finely (optional)
¼ teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4 large fresh garden tomatoes
1 large hunk of fresh organic mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop up all herbs, tomatoes, cheese, then toss with vinegar and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to your desired flavor. Add in the chopped ginger, if you’d like a unique kick to this summer favorite. You can either refrigerate and let the flavors marinate for a while, or serve immediately. Try both ways and determine which is your favorite.
Healing Skin Salve
2 cups almond or olive oil
¼ cup beeswax
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
1 tablespoon calendula
1 tablespoon comfrey
1 tablespoon plantain leaf
First, infuse the oil. You can do this by either letting the herbs sit in the oil for several weeks or by heating in a double boiler over low heat for approximately 3 hours. After infused fully (the oil should be a serious shade of green), strain out the herbs. Then put the oil and beeswax back into the (cleaned) double broiler to melt the beeswax. After sufficiently melted, let cool slightly. You can then mix in essential oils of your choice and any solid substances (perhaps a few lavender flowers or rose petals?). Then pour into containers for storage. Let cool before using.