From saving money to calming anxiety – this is why you need to create and cultivate your own herb garden
Caprese salads, homemade pesto, minty mojitos on a summer's day – some dishes would be nothing without fresh herbs, and the dried versions just don’t compete. So, we can agree they are unrivalled in taste – but did you know that they have so many health benefits too? If you’re already thinking about rushing to your local supermarket to grab all the greens, hold on a second. Why not grow your own? From saving money and resources to boosting your wellbeing – this is why growing your own herbs is good for your body, mind and soul.
A boost for your body
If we’re being honest, dried herbs are extremely convenient (you don’t need to worry about them dying for one). But they aren’t as rich in vitamins as their fresh alternatives. For example, compared to dried tea leaves (like in tea bags) research shows that, fresh leaves have five times more antioxidants. Benefits vary from herb to herb too, here are just a few examples of some leafy goodness.
Love it or hate it, coriander is full of antioxidants – which help to eliminate free radicals in your body that might cause diseases. One study found that it can protect against UVB-induced skin ageing (UVB are the rays from the sun that cause skin to burn).
This fresh herb helps provide relief from an upset tummy, flu symptoms and headaches.
Basil has strong anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a great addition to your diet if you are suffering from inflammatory skin conditions like acne and rosacea.
Prone to bloating? Add parsley to your diet it is a natural diuretic so it can help ease the symptoms.
Studies have shown that rosemary leaves have powerful antiviral properties – great for boosting your immune system or fighting infections.
Good for the soul
There have been countless studies on the mental health benefits of gardening, and you don’t even need to have an outdoor area to reap them. Here are four ways that growing your own herbs can boost your wellbeing.
1- Potting your plants and tending to your herbs is a mindful and therapeutic activity. It requires concentration so, even if you wanted to, you won’t be able to think about your to-do list and you can enjoy a moment just for you.
2- Soil actually contains natural anti-depressants! One study found there is a type of bacteria found in soil - mycobacterium vaccae - that when absorbed through the hands and fingers has been shown to activate the part of the brain that produces serotonin.
3- Being surrounded by the fruits of your labour won’t just instil you with a sense of pride in your achievement – but research has shown that being in the presence of plants helps us to feel calmer and more relaxed.
4- Shop-bought herbs often use pesticides, come wrapped in plastic and have a carbon footprint from travelling to stores. This makes homegrown herbs a more environmentally friendly option - so you can feel good about your choice! Plus, it will save you money too.
Ready, steady, grow
Fingers feeling green already? Time to sew some seeds. Here are our top tips for growing your herbs.
1- If you’re growing your herbs in pots indoors, you can start at any time of year. However, if you’re growing outdoors, the best time to start is spring, when the temperatures start to drop and all the frost has gone!
2- Gently sow your seeds, pushing them into the soil so it reaches just double the depth of the size of the seed itself.
3- Make sure your pot has drainage holes and add a few stones or pebbles in the bottom of the pot to prevent water evaporation and to absorb exceed water. If you don’t want to ruin your surface, be sure to place a saucer underneath the pot.
4- Put it somewhere light! This is very important because herbs love the sun and need a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. Seek out your brightest window and place your pot(s) there.
5- Keep the soil moist and gently water so you don’t wash away the seeds in the beginning.
Want to put your herbs to good use? Check out all our recipes here.