The Adventure of Herb Gardening

Whenever you decide to start growing garden herbs it is like giving a kid the key to a toy store. There are so many different types of herb plants to choose from and they all do such a wide range of magical things it is hard to select which ones to grow. If “haute cuisine” is your fancy then culinary herbs are the way to go. The ready availability of fresh herbs to your kitchen will add a delicious touch to your cooking that is unmatched with herbs from the store. The satisfaction of watching your own herbs grow and produce good things for your food only adds to the enjoyment.

Culinary herbs are what most people think of when the subject of herbs is considered but you might want to take a look at mother nature’s medicine cabinet. Medicinal herbs are a fascinating addition to a herb garden. They have a distinguished history of service to mankind because before modern medicine herbs were the primary source of curative relief. Knowing the medicinal properties of herbs make them a practical addition to the herb garden. Adding these to your garden not only connects you with a rich tradition but also provides a ready source of organic healing remedies.

Many years before the Europeans came to the Americas native populations were conducting empirical studies of herb plants to determine their curative properties. They discovered over 3,000 different plants that had medicinal qualities. For instance the Cherokee Indians found that black cohosh could be used as a diuretic to ease rheumatic pains. They also found that coughs and lung inflammations could be relieved by bloodroot. The Chippewa discovered that blue cohosh, another woodland plant of the Eastern woodlands, would cure cramps and toothaches.

Did you know this about medicinal herbs?

In the non-prescription medicinal market in the U.S. over 175 herbs are sold to the public. Most of these are collected from the wilds because methods for cultivation on a commercial level have not been perfected.

The market for medicinal herbs in the United States is over $3 billion annually.

60 million plus people in the U.S. take some kind of herbal medicines. Doctors are beginning to recognize their value and are beginning to recommend their use to patients.

Another exciting member of the family is aromatic herbs. Aromatics are not generally the first on a herb gardeners selection list but their pleasing fragrances make them a worthwhile addition to any garden. They are plain and simple exactly what you might think – herb plants with good smelling foliage and flowers. The pleasing aromas come from the oils produced by the herbs and this provides a very efficient method of transferring that pleasant aroma to many other items and uses.

Herbal shampoos, bath mixtures and cosmetics are produced commercially by major cosmetic companies but how cool would it be to grow aromatic herbs and make your own cosmetics. Good choices for the bath are bee balm, mugwort, angelica and lavender. The old favorites rosemary and fennel work well in the tub. Chic boutiques grow and process their own aromatic herbs and make such things as sachets, wreaths, potpourris and pillows. Popular herbs for this type use include sweet woodruff, chamomile and scented geraniums.

Growing your own herbs is an adventure you shouldn’t pass up. Take time and discovery which type herb would delight your fancy and go for the gusto!

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