Herbs may be grown in your backyard garden, in containers on your patio or porch, or in pots on your windowsill. Herbs have historically been a part of kitchen gardens, used as seasoning for meats, fruits and vegetables, but the culinary properties of herbs are but one use for these plants. Grow a variety of herbs for use in your kitchen, for medicinal use and for use in crafts and personal care.
Growing parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in your garden provides a foundation for your cuisine. Parsley adds freshness to soups and salads, while sage and rosemary bring an earthiness to such foods as stuffing, roasted meats and vegetables. Thyme may be used to season stir-fried vegetables in place of salt. Add thyme to soups while simmering to bring out the flavor of the broth.
Grow sweet basil and oregano to add to your Italian dishes, and mint for your jellies and desserts. Marjoram boosts the flavors of meat and adds depth to stews. For fish, grow dill and fennel; serve the fennel in a side salad to fish to cleanse the palate.
Many of the herbs you grow for the kitchen may also be used for their medicinal properties. For the backyard gardener, making a tea from a fresh or dried herb is the safest way to administer herbal medicines.
A tea made with fresh basil leaves may relax your nerves. For an upset stomach, bruise fresh mint leaves for the tea. Heartburn may be curtailed by the use of peppermint tea. Include chamomile in your garden, as a tea made from this herb provides relief from nausea and anxiety.
Tea isn't the only way to ingest herbs for medicinal purposes, however. Chew a bit of fennel after a heavy meal to ward off heartburn. Chew parsley sprigs to control water bloating due to menstrual cycles. Let one of your dill plants go to seed in your garden; chewing dill seeds alleviates bad breath.
Gather several sprigs of rosemary and boil them in a large pot of water. Use the water as a rinse to give your hair shine. To slow hair loss, plant yarrow in your garden. A decoction of yarrow leaves used as a hair rinse is said to strengthen hair roots.
Boil thyme or chamomile in water and allow the water to cool. Use the water for a facial rinse to revive the skin.
Dry your lavender cuttings and bundle them into sachet packets. Tuck them into your linen closet for aromatic sheets and pillowcases. Grow other aromatic herbs in your garden for potpourris for use in your home. These include lemon balm, pineapple sage, spearmint and peppermint, chamomile and lavender.