You sit down at your favorite outdoor café for a night out with your partner. You start with craft cocktails filled with fresh mint and rosemary and a wedge of lime while you talk about your week without the kids interrupting your every word. Time stands still as you enjoy the evening breeze and the anticipation of enjoying the food you didn’t cook. The waiter brings out warm plates of wood-fired pizza with fresh basil and salmon with cilantro pesto drizzle and sautéed veggies with parsley and garlic. Food never tastes this good at home.
There is something magical about a night out. When you are a homeowner and have children, a lot goes into creating a delicious meal: the shopping, the preparation, the cooking, and the clean-up afterward. And then you all sit down together as a family, and it never really goes how you imagined it would. There is less appreciation for your hard work than you would like. Sitting down and enjoying the meal as a family takes so much less time than the work involved in creating it. And it doesn’t ever taste as good as it does at a restaurant.
Let’s change this scenario! Having access to fresh herbs will level up your meals and bring more smiles and compliments from your family. When I take the extra time to add fresh-cut herbs or make a sauce with them, the meal tastes better and looks better. Our taste buds connect to the visual appeal of our food. Basically, when it looks good, it tastes good.
I can make sauces ahead of time and get the family involved in chopping and setting the table, then it feels like an enjoyable experience for all of us. Having access to fresh herbs brings more creativity to my cooking, as I prepare a meal around the herbs that are ready for picking.
Growing herbs at home isn’t as time-consuming as you might think. You can grow them in a sunny window indoors or a pot in your front yard. If you have a green thumb and want to go all out with a raised garden bed full of all the herbs, go for it! But if you are new to gardening or feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having more responsibilities of keeping things alive than just your kids, start small.
Start small with an herb garden
Some herbs are best grown in a pot. You can start with one plant at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Once you have mastered your first herbal plant, you can expand your selection as your green thumb confidence grows.
Because mint is known for spreading, growing it in a container is a wise choice. If you choose to place it in a garden bed, leave a lot of room as it can take over the whole area quickly. Mint likes a lot of light and can tolerate some shade. They prefer moist and light soil with good drainage. Read more about mint.
Basil wants at least six hours of sun each day. If growing indoors, choose your sunniest window or place it on a sunny porch. This culinary herb needs moist, nutrient-rich soil that drains well.
Go big with an herb garden
Rosemary is very easy to grow if you choose a spot outdoors that can stay reasonably dry. This is a beautiful herb to grow near a shady tree or a walkway near your porch. It is fragrant and will grow into a massive bush if you let it. Keep the soil dry as rosemary doesn’t like to be overwatered. Read about the benefits of Rosemary.
Parsley stays green year-long in milder climates. This is an annual plant. They can get quite big and bushy if left alone. Parsley likes full sun and very nutrient-rich soil. If growing in a warm environment, offer some shade. Make sure the soil is full of nutrients. Adding compost is helpful. Spacing parsley at least six inches apart is wise due to its growth.
Lavender thrives in full sun with well-drained soil. I add rocks to my outdoor garden beds since we get so much rain in the summers. The soil for lavender doesn’t want a very fertile environment so go easy on the compost before planting this delightful herb. Depending on the type of lavender, some grow in stalks and some into a bush. Space plants accordingly. Read more about lavender.
Dill is pretty easy to grow, even in poor soil conditions. It likes well-drained sandy soil the best. It also has the added benefit of attracting insects to your gardens, such as wasps and other predatory insects. Why would you want this?
“Dill attracts lots of beneficial insects to your garden. By planting dill, you can lure beneficial insects into helping control aphids, tobacco hornworms, tomato hornworms, whiteflies, leafhoppers, mites, fleas, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, squash bugs, and some species of mealybugs.”101 Highland Lakes
Growing chamomile is an intelligent choice as this herb is used for so many conditions. It is one of the world’s most commonly consumed herbal teas. The two varieties used in tea are German and Roman chamomile. German chamomile grows to about three feet and is an annual. Roman only grows about one foot tall and is a perennial. The blossoms of German chamomile are beautiful dried and added to tea. Read about Calming Herbal Tea.
This herb is a wonderful addition to an outdoor garden as it will attract bees. Sage is also very easy to grow and care for. As with lavender, do not over-fertilize sage. Too much compost may increase the growth rate, but the flavor will change and be more intense. Sandy or loamy soil makes sage happy. Sage loves full sun and will also thrive with a medium level of sun. You can grow this herb inside; just make sure to place it in a sunny window.
“Plants have long been recognized for their therapeutic properties. For centuries, indigenous cultures around the world have used traditional herbal medicine to treat a myriad of maladies.”
For more inspiration read More Herbal Ways. Most of us are familiar with the healing benefits of lavender and the yummy scent of lavender in beauty products and teas. When you combine this fragrant flower with mint and chamomile, you are left with a relaxed digestive tract as well as mind and body. The flavors combine in symbiotic harmony, combining a balance that can only be accomplished by working together. Lavender, mint, and chamomile are not the only flowers and herbs in this incredible tea, the master herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht also added moringa. Read more about this delicious tea in our past article here.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Writer and Editor in Gainesville, FL
Owner of Walden Writes For Women