Five Useful Herbs for Your Garden
Thinking of starting a herb garden? Choose these five useful herbs to get going.
Introduction - Herbs for Your Garden
Which Herbs to Choose
If you are considering planting a herb garden, then you will need a variety of herbs to begin with. This small selection provides a range of culinary and medicinal plants that are easy to grow, will provide interest, attract bees, flavor your food and make delicious, healing tisanes.
Fennel is one of those plants that are useful from root to tip. Every part of the plant can be consumed, including the seeds. Fennel makes a delicate and reviving tisane (tea). Eat the bulb hot or cold – it is crispy and nutty-flavored. Fennel's feathery fronds also look beautiful in your herb garden and the bronze variety is often used in flower arrangements. The most common variety is Florence Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
Sage's Latin name, salvia, means 'healing'. Sage is extremely effective in the treatment of mouth ulcers and gum disease, and renowned for curing digestive disorders. It is also very tasty. The British are very fond of mixing sage with chopped onion and breadcrumbs and using the mixture to stuff poultry or make into balls, that are then baked, to accompany roasted meat. Sage has a strong and pungent flavor so a little goes a long way.
Bergamot or Beebalm
Bergamot or Beebalm is not to be confused with the citrus fruit of the same name that is used in the production of Earl Grey tea. Beebalm, as its name suggests, is wonderful for attracting bees to your garden, and with the worldwide problem of disappearing bee colonies, they need all the help they can get. No garden should be without beebalm. Bergamot tisane is wonderful for settling an upset stomach. The flowers are also edible – snip the petals onto a salad just before serving.
More often thought of as a summer bedding plant, Marigolds are really useful as a natural food colorant. Sometimes called 'poor man's saffron', their glorious color can be exploited by adding a few petals to rice while it cooks or to natural skin care creams. The flowers are sometimes fed to chickens to ensure a deep golden yolk. The petals look lovely sprinkled on salads or used to make marigold butter.
Catnip or Catmint
Catnip or catmint is not used as often as it used to be in cooking. However, it has a delicate minty, sometimes lemony flavor so works well added to soups and stews. It works especially well with lamb dishes. However, if you want to use it for cooking then it is best to grow it in a hanging basket or somewhere out of reach of your cat. Not all cats love catnip – around six out of ten will go wild for it. Some will indeed display hyperactivity while others will zone out as if drugged. It is harmless to cats and is dried and stuffed into cat toys. Why not have two clumps? One for the kitchen and one for the cat?
Remember to always consult a physician before attempting to self-medicate.