Herb Garden Plants – Uses and Attractions

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Herb Garden Plants – Uses and Attractions

Herb plants are like any other in they may be biennials, perennials or annuals. If your interest is in a specific plant, then you need to do a separate research to discover its caretaking requirements and correct method of use. This article will provide you with a general view and a basis for learning the different general varieties and uses of the many herb plants available.

An annual will not survive the frost. These plants, such as cilantro, summer savory and basil will need to be planted from fresh seed every year. A perennial is growing in its natural environment and will be able to survive the cold quite nicely and return each and every year. Winter savory and sage are two examples for gardens in areas where frosts may occur. Biennials ( herbs such as caraway, parsley and angelica) are very interesting in that their leaves are formed during the initial growing season, but the seeds and the flowers don’t appear until the second, after which they die.

These biennial herbs need to be sown in the garden in late spring. The soil must be prepared by making it into a fine texture, wetting it slightly. Do not drench it. The seeds need to be planted in even rows, shallowly, after which you will firm down the soil on top of them (gently). You can also plant the finer seeds in sand mixed soil which allows the spread to be more even. Covering the herb bed with a wet burlap or paper is also recommended. This will protect the germinating seedlings.

Herbs can also be categorized by their use. Most herb growers are interested in their culinary capabilities. The herbs usages in cooking are too numerous to mention here. Very strong herbs such as savory, basil, thyme, marjoram, chives and sage are generally used sparingly so as not to overpower the subtleties of a food’s natural flavor. A decorative herb is parsley, used today mostly as a garnish but which historically was used as a breath freshener after a meal. There are the aromatic herbs which have the sweet smelling foliage and flowers. Makers of perfumes and toilet waters are fond of the oils of loyage, rosemary and mint. Many of these aromatic herbs can be used to create delightful potpourris to pleasantly scent linens, clothing or the home. Drying them for this purpose enables them to keep their aroma over a long period of time. Other favorites for potpourri include lavender and lemon verbena.

The usage of herbs in medicine is widely known in Asia and Europe and is catching on very quickly in the States. There is much which needs to be studied to determine the most effective medical usages of herbs. Some are very useful, others overrated, some safe and others dangerous to ingest. The Chinese are very sophisticated in their usage of herbs for health, but Westerners are advised to proceed with caution and do research on specific remedies before using them. What works for some people may be dangerous for others, especially if you are already taking other medications.

So we see herbs are desired for their fragrance, for their taste, and for their medicinal attributes. But some we enjoy simply because they are beautiful! Valerian brags with its crimson blossoms, chicory and borage show off their shades of incredible blue, a generally rare color in the plant world.

Some herbs are not so cubby holed into single use and actually are more versatile. You can use mint, for example, to control some pests, take it your tea, or in your cooking. Working and living with herbs makes us more attuned to our own nature as we pick and choose the ones we wish to use for the reasons we wish to use them.

Jeff Stone is a long time lover of herbs and horticulture who has been growing his own for over 30 years. His book,Secrets of Successful Herb Gardening, written with his partner Amy Spalding, is a treasure of information for the home grower. It is available, along with abundant free information, on their HerbalGardenMagic website. Go to http://www.herbalgardenmagic.com

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