Do you remember this song by Simon and Garfunkel? “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”. Of course you do - it’s iconic. When that song was a hit many years ago it was known that herbs improved the flavour of food, but we now know so much more about their properties and their relationship to health.
Growing your own herbs is so rewarding and fun, even a complete beginner is assured success. Growing your own small herb garden means harvesting only the amount you require, which will maximise the nutrients in the herbs and also save you money at the supermarket! Eating herbs couldn’t be easier; they can all easily be incorporated in soups, pasta, stews, salads, dips, marinades, or smoothies. Let’s start with the first herb from the song.
Poor old parsley, it has a very low status in the eyes of most of the population and usually gets relegated to a simple garnish on the edge of the plate, which is often not even eaten. Let’s have a rethink about this. Parsley is powerful! Apart from it containing vitamins A, K and C which strengthen the immune system, it also has some fantastic health benefits that you may not be aware of.
It can decrease blood sugar. It is effective against rheumatoid arthritis. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. It is effective in maintaining bone health - especially important as we age and osteoporosis looms large.
More power to parsley! It’s low maintenance, and easy to grow indoors or out. Simply sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and give them a water. It may grow at a slightly slower rate than other herbs but just be patient. This will pay off when you can harvest it and impress your friends with green humus as well as all the other ways mentioned above on how to incorporate it into your meals.
Did you know that sage is not only known for its health benefits, but is used in beauty products too? For example, it can be used as a toner for your skin and a treatment for lacklustre hair. Possibly the most common beauty product association is anti-ageing cream. Who knew the anti-oxidants in sage would keep you looking 25!? Let’s concentrate on some of its other benefits:
It kills bacteria – so it can help with infections and can be used as a mouthwash and a gargle for sore throats. Abundant in antioxidants, it can sooth indigestion. Sage is nature’s remedy for fatigue and anxiety. Why not try a cup of sage tea? But perhaps the most exciting breakthrough with sage could be its effects in reducing memory loss. Research is ongoing, but the thought that a simple herb may be part of the solution is amazing.
Sage is very easy to grow, it likes sunshine and good drainage. You can grow it from seed or a cutting from an established plant and it produces pretty white, pink, purple or blue flowers during the summer. Once established it will provide you with leaves all year. We should all be growing it!
Aromatic rosemary. I love it! Probably one of the best known and most used of herbs. This fragrant citrus-woodsy herb has graced apothecaries, gardens and kitchens throughout the world. With so many health benefits, and with it being so easy to grow and maintain, it’s a must in your herb garden.
It is packed with vitamins A, C and B, all great for skin, regarding both immunity and repair. It relieves stress and inflammation. It treats intestinal issues through a special acid it contains. It is possible that it also stimulates hair growth although the jury is still out on that one - but a recent study reported that rosemary extract could be the beginning of a promising crude drug for hair renewal. And as a final idea, it always tastes great in food, but what about using it in a cocktail?
Rosemary is a very hardy plant for your herb garden and its glorious aroma will surely give you added enjoyment every time you go near it.
Thyme grows either in bushy or low growing form and is a very attractive herb with many lilac, white or pink flowers. It is very easy to develop and it has a plethora of health benefits.
It is packed with vitamin C to boost immunity. Thyme extract is able to significantly reduce blood pressure due mainly to its large mineral content and the presence of vitamin B6. It is a natural cough remedy and the thymol which is present can also help bronchitis. It is also used in aromatherapy for either mood enhancements or moth repellents!
Thyme is one of the main components of a bouquet garni along with bay leaf, celery and parsley. I use it when I’m preparing this favourite recipe and I include it in my vegetable stock as it enhances the flavour immeasurably.
When planting thyme, it is easier to buy the plant initially or take a cutting from a friend. In fact, why not have herb parties, bring cuttings and swap!?
I have just covered the four herbs from Simon and Garfunkel’s famous song, but there are a multitude of others and research seems to be discovering more and more reasons to eat, drink, cook or blend with them. Start thinking about your herb garden to improve your health right now! For more information on how to plant, look after, or harvest these herbs and many more, contact Leeds Garden Design today.