Herbs – It’s All About The Leaves
In my opinion herbs are relatively easy to grow. These are herbs that I grow in pots in my backyard. They do require a good amount of sun. So if you are growing them inside, make sure they are in a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Mine are planted in an organic gardening soil mixture but I’m sure any potting or gardening soil would do fine. I do apply a natural fertilizer to them about once every other month during their prime growing season which in south Texas is about March through November. One of the most important things about growing herbs is to harvest the leaves frequently. I give them a “haircut” every 10-14 days, cutting about 1-2 inches off the top. Of course if I need them for a recipe I will snip off leaves as needed. Some herbs can be regrown by putting the cut end in water. I do this frequently with basil.
Reasons to Grow Herbs
1. They smell wonderful. If you need a pick-me-up, run your hands along the leaves of an herb plant. I particularly like the thyme and rosemary.
2. They can be used in cooking to flavor your food so that less salt is needed. I generally use the thyme and rosemary fresh cut from the plant when I cook. They can be added to soups and stews or on a variety of meat and potato dishes. I dry the oregano and basil to add to my homemade spaghetti sauce. To dry herbs your can tie them together and hang them, dry them in the oven or like I do, just lay them on a newspaper in a sunny location. With the chives I cut those when I need them to add on top of baked potatoes or added to butter to make a flavored butter.
3. Many herbs are antibacterial, antifungal, and provide antioxidants. People with autoimmune diseases tend to have too much inflammation in their body. Antioxidants help fight the free-radicals and reduce inflammation. Candida overgrowth (which I also have) is a fungus. The antifungal properties of herbs helps in the fight against this yeast problem.
4. They contain fiber and vitamins like A, C and K.
5. They can be used to make essential oils. Essential oils from these herbs can be very beneficial from fighting a sore throat to balancing hormones.
Making Essential Oil
What you need:
1 handful of herbs crushed
1 cup of oil (sunflower, almond, mild olive oil . . .)
Note: The oils from herbs come from the leaves. The best oils are produced right before the herbs get ready to flower. Morning is the best time to harvest the leaves.
Put the herbs in a glass jar. Pour in the oil, making sure all of the herbs are covered. Put the jar out in the sun for about a week. After a week, remove the herbs and strain the oil to get all the herb pieces out. If the oil does not smell strong enough repeat this process until you get a strongly scented oil. Pour finished oil in a glass jar with a lid.
Put the oil in a small pot. Add the herbs and make sure they are covered in oil. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until mixture bubbles. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool. Once cool pour in a glass bottle with a lid.