what herbs to plant?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Sylvia, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia Well-Known Member

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    What are the most important herbs to have in one's garden and why?

    1) Culinary puposes?
    2) medicinal purposes?
    2) other puposes?

    I am starting an herb garden from scratch and would like to make the most of my garden.
    Thanks!
    Sylvia
     
  2. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    I don't have any experience with medicinal herbs, so my answer will be about culinary herbs. I'm probably in a zone close to yours. I've found that chives, rosemary and thyme are all very easy to grow, and I use them in the kitchen all the time. Very tasty! I love basil, too, but haven't had the best luck with it - it seems to need warmer, wetter conditions that the other herbs. This year I'll be planting it alongside my tomatoes.

    And mint is great and very easy, but keep it in a pot well away from everything else - it's extremely invasive!
     

  3. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Which ones do YOU use? That is where you start. I use Uva Ursi a lot for kidney/bladder infections, so I will be planting that. Parsley is good for food and for a blood purifier/tonic. Stinging nettles are a tonic/protein/vitamin herb that is also good for your livestock. Horehound for coughs. Marshmallow for sore throat. Cayenne pepper and ginger for arthritis and pain relief. Dandelion for diuretic. These are just a few off the top of my head. I have a really long list that I will be planting. Mainly you should decide what you want and need and what grows there where you live. Start with a few that you are familiar with and add a few new ones each year.
     
  4. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    How long is a piece of string?

    Choosing herbs to grow is a very individual thing. It all depends on what you like, what you want to do with it, and in the case of medicinal herbs, what your ailments are (or the ailments of your family).

    Culinary herbs are really a matter of taste. I could recommend, say, Basil, but if you don't like Basil, then you wouldn't bother. If you're already using dried commercial herbs, then choose the plants to match the labels. If you use a lot of parsley, of course you'd grow parsley. If you like lemony herbs, you have a wide range to choose from - lemon thyme, lemon verbena, lemon savory, lemon-scented geranium, lemon balm, lemongrass and more. If you like Mediterranean cuisine, choose sage, basil, rosemary, parsley, chives, lavender, thyme, garlic. If you like Asian cuisine, choose Vietnamese mint, chillies, kaffir lime, curry leaf tree, lemongrass, Asian greens like kangkong, bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna; turmeric, cardamom, galangal, ginger (you need a warm climate for most of the Asian herbs). Mustard is a handy one to grow for many cuisines. Mint is a good all-rounder, too. Spearmint for savoury dishes (goes well with veges and lamb especially), peppermint for sweet dishes (confectionery, cakes etc). Also good for the digestion.

    For medicinal herbs, remember that all culinary herbs have medicinal purposes too, which is very convenient. But you could also consider Feverfew (for headaches), Aloe Vera (the First Aid Plant, great for burns and wounds), Yarrow, Self Heal, Nasturtium (good eating but also good for cystitis). Garlic is Poor Man's Treacle (all-round treatment). The entire plant of Evening Primrose is edible. On the WWW, look up something like 'herbs for digestion', 'herbs for health', 'menstrual problems herbs', and check out what herb is used for what ailment(s). Select from there what you're likely to use.

    The best all-rounder has to be Lavender. You can eat it, you can treat a variety of ailments with it, it's great in potpourri, scented sachets, it's a great pest-repellent, wonderful perfume, great is cosmetic products like soaps and face creams etc. If you're going to eat it, get the English lavender or a cultivar of it.

    All the scented herbs are great insect repellents, especially the lemon-scented ones. Garlic makes a terrific garden spray for a wide range of bugs and diseases. If you want perfumed plants, you can't go past roses - and they of course are used in cosmetics, aromatherapy, and in cooking.

    Rosemary, thyme and lemon balm, made into teas, are excellent used as household perfumers, and being antibacterial etc are good for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. Lemon Balm can be used instead of furniture polish for wooden surfaces (just rub on a bunch of leaves). Chamomile makes a good shampoo or hair rinse, is a very mild sedative, and is a specific for fungal problems in the garden.

    Seriously, most of the common herbs are multi-purpose. Check out your herb/spice cabinet, then do some research into the multi-uses of those you use the most, and select from there. Your only constraint will be providing suitable growing conditions for the plants in your particular climate, so that should be one of the areas of your research. Have fun - you've only got 20,000 herbs to choose from! :)
     
  5. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Trix--you are probably as close to the line dividing zone 6b and 7a, as I am. In growing your Rosemary, do you have a variety that winters over (if so, what) or do you bring it in during the winter? We grow basil with the tomatoes quite successfully. They both get the same water, etc. It is important to keep 4-6" of the growing centers picked regularly. They will bush out and grow like crazy. I pick off blooms as soon as I see them.

    Sylvia--I grow thyme, oregano, sage, sorrell, chives outside in pots. I bring in my Rosemary, but haven't been taking good enough care of it. It seems pretty dry to me. Hopefully, once we start our building project, I will have a better situation both inside and in the gh to do a better job. We are fondly hoping the building will start sometime before the second coming of Christ. We started the process last May, and haven't seen one grain of dirt turned over. ---SIGH---

    I would think that catmint, catnip, marjoram, all the mints (keep this stuff corraled)would grow great here. I e-mailed you at one point, but never got an answer. Did you get it?
     
  6. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    Hey, Sandi, I just PM'd you - let me know if it doesn't come through!

    Oh, and we bring our herbs inside for the winter. Some stuff, like the mint, might make it through, but we couldn't very well harvest it in this snow. My poor scallions, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts are similarly out of reach until we have some snowmelt!
     
  7. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Don'f forget comfrey, which is an excellent plant for cuts, scrapes, burns, etc.--just cut a piece from the plant and rub it right on the affliction. It's also a great fodder for rabbits and chickens. I use it in my salves. One plant would easily supply your family medicinally for a year or two, as they get very large.
     
  8. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The way I decided which herbs to plant this year went like this:

    Look through the Shumway catalog.

    Pick every herb in sight except the ones for which I really don't care.

    Go back and thin out the list.

    Decide to be reasonable, and cut the list by half.

    Consider needs and look at available garden space.

    Cut back list again.

    Think about space at farm.

    Increase list again.

    Think about how much time I'll be able to spend at farm.

    Cut back list again.

    I finally thinned it out to 6 new herbs this year, in addition to my mints, rosemary, thyme, and sage. A woman's got to know her limits. :)

    Pony!

    p.s. I'm really looking forward to growing comfrey!