Fresh herbs are wonderful! All you need is a few to get you going, they can be planted in your garden/patio/windowsill/balcony and then begin your adventure of using fresh herbs in your cooking, medicine and beauty products!
Now although I know a lot about herbs and how they can be used to help heal your body - I'm rubbish at gardening! I'm very much a novice in all aspects of it so we can learn together! Start off by popping down to your local supermarket or gardening centre, they do lots of choices of little pots of fresh herbs, in B&M Bargains they had an offer on for 3 for £5, so I picked up Rosemary, Thyme and Fennel which I wanted to put in a trough together. I already had a Mint plant from Asda that I put in it's own pot as Mint is notorious for spreading so is better off contained in its own pot. I also already have Basil and Lavender in their own pots as well.
All I did was fill the trough plant pot with compost and made three little wells where I wanted the herbs to sit. (Cat photobomb not a necessity!) Then I carefully tipped the plant out of its plastic pot, slightly loosened up the roots and placed it into the well. I then added more compost to secure the plants into place and done! I googled around for tips on which herbs like to be together, and discovered Rosemary and Thyme in particular get on very well together and Fennel is easy-going. They all require a similar amount of water and light so I put them out on the patio in my back garden where they will receive full sun, but not all day round.
Above left to right: Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), Mint (Mentha piperita), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Below: Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
I use Basil all the time when cooking, it works wonderfully with Italian dishes, such as pesto of course as well as pasta and pizza.
Lavender is great to add a sweet, floral touch to homemade lemondade or shortbread biscuits. I often dry it and use it in soaps and bath bombs. Its aromatic oils are very relaxing and de-stressing.
Mint is a favourite of mine, I love its flavour in infused water, salads and teas which is great for mild digestive complaints such as indigestion and relieving mild headaches also.
Thyme is a herb often used in meat and stew dishes. Medicinally, it can be taken as either a tincture, infused oil or infusion tradiotionally to ease sore throats and coughs. Its lovely when combined with liquorice and honey!
Rosemary is also found a lot in Mediterranean cooking adding a woody aroma. In an infusion it can be applied topically to the hair and scalp to boost shine and growth. Traditionally, it's taken as a tonic to increase memory and relieve headaches.
Fennel has a lovely aniseed taste and smell, it adds a sweet taste to teas and eases digestive complaints, particularly bloating.
Of course you can add any herbs you like to your beginner's herb garden, Chives and Parsley are great to add in when cooking. Lemonbalm, Chamomile and Sage are also some great starter herbs with wonderful medicinal uses I'd like to add to my little herb garden at some point!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.