Good For Us | Easy To Gro

Mary Houston (Tulip)

By Mary Houston (Tulip)

Herbs!! Coming from the Catskill Mountains of New York State, growing herbs was no easy task.

So it was much to my surprise that North Carolina turned out to be the perfect place to grow my favorite herbs for both cooking and for medicine.

Although there are literally hundreds of both culinary and medicinal  herbs that grow well here, I will only list a few for a beginner’s herbal garden. Growing one’s own herbs is now a popular past-time. Not only for medicine and culinary use but to feed the bees, butterflies and humming birds.

You don’t need a great big garden to have fresh herbs every night — for salads, or cooking or putting up your own herbal tinctures, or just a healthy soothing cup of tea.

You will need some good organic soil, gardening tools such as a small hand rake, trowel and some gardening gloves. All can be purchased at your local garden shop. Our herb garden is quite small and you would be surprised how much you can grow in a small space. We bought some 4 x 10 pieces of wood and cut for a 4 x 6 little garden. Some herbs need more sun and others need some shade so it’s good to allow for both.

Here was our first year, and we saw very successful growth. I have two favorite herbs: Rosemary and Basil. Both of these herbs grow voluptuously here. In New York State, we relied mostly on store-bought basil because it grew so poorly there. However, here in North Carolina, basil kept growing and growing until late October! We cut 5 or 6 large bunches and made Italian Pesto with it — and froze it so we had during most of winter.

Basil is a deep cleansing herb for the body — excellent for the heart, diabetes, bacterial and fungal infections. It is also excellent for the brain and memory.

As for rosemary, I never knew rosemary to grow as big as it does here, apparently right through the year! It’s good for any kind of meat, bread or muffin. It’s the best herb for the brain and memory. Soak some branches in olive oil for a few weeks in the sun. You can rub it on your scalp for growing your hair, and nourishing your brain, or use it on a salad.

Sage was a big surprise for me. It’s quite delicate but not only did ours last through the cold months, it turned into a big bush from a tiny potted plant. Sage is great as a mouth wash. Make a tea, let it cool, and swish around your mouth. It’s anti-bacterial. Drinking it as a tea twice a day removes bad cholesterol and helps production of good cholesterol. It is antibacterial, killing candida albicans. It also supports memory and brain health. It’s great cooked in stuffings and meat AND burned as incense (you can burn just the leaves). TRUST ME, Sage gets rid of bad energy and evil spirits.  The American Indians have assured us of this magical quality!!

Oregano is a famous Italian herb for spaghetti sauces and other Italian dishes as well as Mediterranean. However, used as a tincture, it has greatly improved the memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease when tested in double blind studies.

Parsley is very happy here as well. Parsley is excellent for the kidneys as a tea or just blend it in a smoothy. Parsley should be on every dinner plate. It is also a wonderful blood cleanser.

Echinacea is a beautiful flower that butterflies and bees love. You can also tincture the leaves or dry them by hanging them upside down in a dark and airy space and when dry save them in a bag or jar. It’s one of the best herbs to boost your immune system.

What’s equally wonderful about these herbs is that they can be frozen raw or grown inside. Mosquitoes and bugs will flee.

There are numerous books on how to tincture herbs, and there are many more that love North Carolina for their home. An easy tincture recipe is to fill a quart mason jar with your chosen herb after washing and drying them. Fill up the mason jar with a good brandy to the top. All of the above can be done in a month or longer.

Pour into a dropper bottle and use your chosen tincture one to three times a day – in hot water or in tea (15 to 30 drops).