This Mother’s Day will have special meaning for me, and maybe for you, too. It’s all about wanting to connect while still honoring the guidelines for sheltering in place. And herbs play a role here. Early in the day I’ll take some of my mother’s heirloom peppermint and plant it, as I do every year, at the cemetery by her and my dad’s graves. A poignant reminder of love.
How about making personal container herb gardens for those special moms? She can keep them in a container or plant them in the ground.
Varieties are endless. Does she love tea? A healing tea herb garden is for her. An adventurous cook? How about a salsa Tex Mex garden? Hot and spicy oregano, cilantro and peppermint come to mind. A Thai herb garden? Try Thai mint, Thai basil and Vietnamese cilantro. You can see where I’m going here. And don’t forget about spa herbs — lovely fragrant herbs for a relaxing bath.
Use my suggestions here as a guide. Edible flowers can be tucked into the mix, as well as companion veggies. Be creative!
HEALING TEA HERBS:
Not only does tea hydrate, herbal teas have healing properties. A tablespoon of fresh to a cup of boiling water, or a teaspoon of dried, steeped for 3-5 minutes, will give you a delicious, flavorful tea. Sweeten to taste and add a squeeze of lemon if you like. If you’re a newbie, you can always just add a sprig to regular brewed teas.
Mint: Invigorating and good for digestion. So many varieties.
Chamomile and Lavender: Trouble sleeping? Both make a lovely, calming tea.
Fennel. This licorice flavored tea warms and soothes.
Thyme and sage. Together these are good for upper respiratory health.
Stevia. A flavorful sugar substitute. Non caloric and diabetic safe. A little goes a long way.
Jasmine. The edible variety makes a favored tea, quite aromatic and sweet.
Make your own bath salts with Epsom salt, sea salt and fresh bath herbs.
Eucalyptus. A few leaves in a hot bath open up sinuses.
Lemon balm. A favorite in soaps, this has a clean, lemon aroma.
Lavender. A popular aromatherapy plant. So calming.
Mint. Invigorating and makes a skin-loving sugar scrub.
SIMPLE KITCHEN HERB GARDEN:
Here’s a few essential herbs.
Basil. You can’t go wrong with Sweet or Genovese basil for pestos and everyday cooking. For smaller containers, Globe or Minet grow in a rounded shape, 12” overall.
Parsley. So pretty and useful. Italian or curly — you choose.
Chives. Both onion and garlic chives are cut and come again several times.
Rosemary. The piney flavor is a favorite. There are upright and smaller, trailing varieties.
Oregano. Golden oregano is nice for containers as it’s smaller and more mild than its Greek cousin.
Sage. The variegated sages stay fairly small and quite pretty. Bergarten sage is a slower bolting sage with large leaves.
Mint. Mints are invasive. Keep that in mind when deciding how to plant.
Thyme. French is the gold standard; lemon thyme is hugely popular, too, with leaves that stay more tender than French.
- Don’t baby your herbs. Normal soil, lots of sun and watering only when required will give you lush growth and optimum health benefits.
- Like all fresh herbs, harvest early after the dew has dried.
- Most herbs are at their peak just before they bloom. But don’t forget about the flowers – they are edible and lend a nice flavor and color to teas.
- Crush the herbs right before you use them.
- Harvest all the herbs at the end of the season, and dry them for winter teas.