The Joy of Herb Gardening

Growing herbs at home is one of the most satisfying gardening tasks there is, and it’s extremely easy too.  As beneficial as herbs are for all of us, what is many times overlooked is the joy that herb gardening brings even before we harvest these herbs for all their healthful uses. Within the large realm of gardening, herb gardening has its own therapeutic effects.

When you are outdoors working in the dirt taking care of herbs, planting, weeding and watching all the bugs, butterflies, and hummingbirds – any stress you have will seep away, even if it’s just for a few minutes you are one with nature.

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When gardening with herbs they release their wonderful scent, and that in itself has an aromatherapy-like effect on our senses releasing the chemical dopamine in our brain that makes us happy. Many times when I brush past my mint plants to cut a rose bloom or another garden flower, I love the sweet scent that is released; this always brings a smile and a pause of happiness 😊.  Herbs smell great and create wonderful happy sensations when we garden with them.

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Herb gardening and the benefits of herbs in easing pain, in preventing illnesses, and their usefulness in cooking have been around forever, and have been endowed with magical properties for centuries in all regions of the world. Herbs have their own stories surrounding them in Greek mythology, Indian mythology, and even in Anglo-Saxon and Druid cultures.  What’s so new about all this?  None of this information on herbs is new really.  For centuries Homeopathic practitioners, Ayurvedic practitioners, and Chinese herbal practitioners have all been using combinations of herbs to take care of ailments from simple colds to hormone imbalance.

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What I love about growing herbs is how beautiful they are just as plants.  They have the most beautiful leaves and delicate flowers and fragrance. I remember I first started growing herbs years ago more for their beauty rather than their cooking and medicinal virtues.  Only later did I actually start using those same herbs from my garden for cooking.

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Lemon thyme

I remember one year my cousin Meera gave me a lemon balm plant for Mother’s Day.  I asked her how I would use the herb. She said she bought the plant because it was so pretty.  I understood! I planted it in a pot with some freesias and a rose bush.

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Lemon balm with freesias

Another wonderful benefit of growing herbs is the beautiful display of flowers you will get in the spring and throughout the growing season. These flower stalks look lovely in bouquets and the flowers add a nice touch of whimsy to salads.

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There are a multitude of herbs out there and the list is very long.  Even scented geraniums are categorized as herbs, as the leaves can be used in teas and for aromatherapy. And let me not forget nasturtiums. With their vibrant yellow flowers and nutty flavored leaves, both flowers and leaves can be used in salads and desserts.

Once in a while I will come upon an herb that is different and unusual and will purchase it just for the curiosity factor. I did this with a tiny Stevia plant I found at the local nursery.  This little plant had small delicate blade like leaves that when you sucked on even a tiny portion of the leaf, you got a sugar rush.  The plant was so tiny that it didn’t survive the winter.

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Similarly, my friend Georgina gave me a very unusual herb called Indian Borage. I had never heard of Indian Borage until Georgina gave me a little cutting. Along with the cutting in her signature style, she included a little write-up on a card about this unusual herb.

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I like growing all types of herbs. I especially enjoy growing them in all areas of my garden. I have them growing in my front yard, in pots in my patio, in my courtyard, in my vegetable garden; anywhere I think they will look good and there is plenty of sunlight, I plant herbs. This way I have multiple places to cut herbs from for the dishes I am cooking.

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I like to use herbs and their beautiful leaves in flower arrangements and as accents on presents. They add a touch of whimsy and cottage charm to any small bouquet, and they smell wonderful, too.

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Herbs don’t require much space. You can plant them in a small pot, medium size pot, or get an herb pot that is designed specifically for herbs to be planted in different tiers. You can tuck them in with other plants; you can also add herbs to any area in your garden as a border plant.  Of course you can always create a small herb garden where you can plant all your herbs together.

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As easy as herbs are to grow, there is one thing they need plenty of, and that is sunlight.  Herbs love lots of sunshine.  In a sunny spot, herbs thrive and can take over a pot or any herb patch.

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I get tempted every summer by those herb pots that grocery stores like Trader Joe’s sell. They have everything in one pot – rosemary, thyme, sage, and mint. Some have oregano, marjoram, and dill too.  I can’t resist it and the temptation gets the better of me. Despite the fact that I already have so many herbs growing in my garden, I buy the pot anyway and keep it in my kitchen to enjoy indoors.

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But let me tell you, remember I said herbs need loads of sunshine? Well, these herb pots do not do well indoors 😞,  I enjoy them for a couple of weeks and invariably I will notice the leaves wilting and looking sad.  The plant needs to go outside.

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Everyone is successful at growing herbs; that’s because herbs by nature are hardy plants that can grow in tough conditions. Which means they require little care except for those herbs that are annuals like basil, parsley and cilantro.

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I am always amazed at how abundantly Anjali’s herb patch grows and am pleasantly amused when Anjali who enjoys a bit of gardening will advice me on how to grow herbs 😀.  I have added or rather encroached on her raised bed by adding my own selection of herbs, and what blows me away is how no matter what we plant in that patch of hers, they take off and grow almost wild.

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I ask her all the time: “Anjali I can’t believe how healthy and beautiful your herb patch is.” To which Anjali’s response is “Mom, you just need to plant the herbs and let them be. That’s what I do.  I think herbs naturally grow wild and are hardy. I don’t fuss over them like you do Mom.”  Mmm, I think Anjali has a point here. Herbs are hardy and like to be left alone once planted. Just water and give them plenty of sunshine and watch them thrive.

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My best tip for growing herbs is to stop by the nursery and take a look at their herb section. Pick up whatever herbs you think you are likely to use in your cooking, and pick a couple of extra herbs just for their beautiful leaves.

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When planting herbs I typically spread a little bit of good soil in the ground or in the pot I am planting the herbs in. I always fertilize right after I plant anything; this gives the plants a great start and a good chance of growing bigger. Always water right away after you plant, and that includes herbs. Then it’s just a matter of time before the herbs get larger and produce more leaves for your enjoyment.

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I have a list of my favorite herbs to grow, which I will write those up in another post.  Cilantro, basil, Thai basil, marjoram, dill, mint, and parsley- the herb list is long.  Grow them all, or try one or two.

Growing herbs in your garden, it’s therapeutic, beneficial, healthy, and most of all – fun!

Mother’s Day Tip 💝

Beautiful smelling herbs evokes image of charming cottages with kitchen gardens and Mom’s cooking with fresh picked herbs. Try presenting herbs for a Mother’s Day present – grab a selection of herb plants from the grocery store, nursery, or florist; plop them in a beautiful pot, and you have the makings of a Mother’s Day gift that will last all summer long and evoke happy images every time the herbs are used 🤗💝.

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6 thoughts on “The Joy of Herb Gardening”

  1. Wonderful post. What a cute little helper you have. I am one my way to get fairy garden flowers now. I will add some herbs to my list. I also have an herb garden in the bunny yard. The bunnies love to nibble on them. The plants have to be in fence rings, so that the plants are not totally devoured.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kalpana , I met this Egyptian lady ( my gravatar image) at an arts exhibition yesterday … She is a fine Artiste but also a Great cook who loves to use a lot of Herbs in her cooking – something she learned from her mother … She uses generously aloe, caraway seeds, Marjoram Leaves, Spearmint Leaves, Basil Leaves, Hibiscus, , Anise seeds, Parsley Leaves, Cumin, Licorice Roots, Chamomile seeds, Dill , Garlic etc . She even gave me a recipe for Dil Rice …

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Healing Herbs – that is what herbs are all about … I tried ” Lyrica” for my diabetic nerve pain and found the side effects of this medicine devastating . I tried the herbal alternative ” Skull Cap” – it works wonders … Skullcap contains flavonoids, bioflavonoids and potent antioxidants that prevent cells from damaging and helps to treat neuropathy.

    Thanks Kalpana – you are a storehouse of Knowledge and information . Keep us posted on all your discoveries and research

    Liked by 2 people

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