Backyard Herb Gardening

With the summer season rapidly approaching, we are shifting our focus to the outdoors! One great family activity that can be enjoyed throughout the entire summer season is creating your own garden! Now a garden doesn’t need to entail lots of land or resources. A garden can be a great addition to any size backyard, porch or patio. A great way to maximize space and reap the benefits of gardening is to create your own backyard herb garden.

Growing herbs is a great way to grow some of the distinct flavorful seasonings that you love to use and be able to get them as freshly as possible…in the convenience of your own yard! The simple herbs we grow in backyard containers and cook with can also have a profound positive impact on our health. Herbs can aid in digestion, ease stress, boost memory and even help fight sickness. Although it is possible to grow lots of great herbs in containers or small garden plots, we are going to focus on some great basic herbs that have a variety of uses (both culinary and medicinal).

Peppermint-Great digestive aid helps in relieving nausea and gas. Consider planting mints in a container or sink a container into the ground to keep it from taking over the garden. Peppermint (and most other mints) can be grown in both shade or sun.

Lemon Balm-Great herb to help with depression, anxiety, nervous disorders, viral and bacterial infections. Plant the same way you would plant peppermint.

Chamomile-Great in helping to treat conditions ranging from colic and indigestion to muscle spasms, tension, inflammation and infection. The flower is the primary part used.

Lavender-Profoundly relaxing and calming herb. It is sometimes used in digestive formulas to relieve indigestion and calms stomach muscle spasms sometimes caused by I.B.S. and Crohn’s disease.

Feverfew-Tension headache relief aid. Combine with lavender for possible migraine relief. Primary part used are the flowers.

Thyme-Use to help ward off cold and as a rinse to treat sore throat and oral infections. It can also be used as a tea to treat cough and chest complaints.

Basil-Helps ease gas and stomach cramps and prevents or relieves nausea and vomiting. It can be helpful to relieve nervous irritability, fatigue, depression anxiety and insomnia.

Rosemary-Legendary brain tonic, improving concentration and memory. Also helps increase circulation and aids in digesting fats and starches.

St. John’s wort-Very effective for treating mild depression, anxiety, stress, tension, nerve damage, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The best time to harvest the flowers is right before the buds open.

Calendula-Wonderful flower that can be used either externally or internally. Calendula helps to heal wounds by promoting cell repair and growth. Internally it is great for cleansing the lymphatic system and also can work with other herbs to help with various digestive ailments.

The above mentioned herbs are simply suggestions to get you started; choose the herbs that you are most drawn to, use already or want to try. Most herbs are versatile, hardy and can be used fresh, dried or even frozen! Its a real treat to take your final bounty of basil, put it in the freezer and then make basil pesto in January! Going to your back porch all summer and cutting off a few sprigs to complement your main dish is extremely rewarding. One warm weather favorite is harvesting a variety of mints and lemon balm, making a tea and serving it in a big glass of ice. So refreshing!

If you want to try something new, create a tea from a combination of herbs. Choose your own unique combination based on your needs, wants and preferences. Not every combination will be a winner, but you may find your own favorite signature blend. My favorite teas are ones I harvest from plants in my own yard. There is nothing more fresh and satisfying than that! Remember to write down your combinations so that you know what your favorites were.

Here’s a great tea combination to aid in digestion and ease tension. Drink a cup at night after a meal as a treat after a tiring day.

1 part chamomile flowers
1 part lemon balm leaves
1 part peppermint leaves
1 part lavender buds

Combine the above ingredients
For one serving, pour 1 cup of simmering water over 1 tsp dried or 1 Tbs fresh tea herb mix
Let steep 5-8 minutes
Add honey or lemon (if desired)
Serve hot or over ice and enjoy!

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Danielle Nuhfer and her husband, Jordan Scroble, are owners of Grow Your Own Freedom, a sustainable living business located in Wyomissing, PA. Their mission is to provide information, services and products to help people become more aware about what they put in their bodies and on their bodies. Some of their services include backyard raised garden bed installations, edible landscaping services, seasonal garden transplants and hand crafted soaps balms and salves made with primarily organic ingredients, devoid of synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances.

If you have an interest in learning more about the many ways they may be able to help you on your journey, please check out their website

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