For the second week of helping our kids become healthier individuals, I wanted to write about herb planting in the fall. Herbs are extremely easy and inexpensive to plant and take care of and most herbs are completely suitable for children of any age. Herbs come in Annual, Perennial, and Evergreen Perennial, so if you do some simple planning you’ll have fresh herbs year round that the kids can help you trim off when you’re ready to use them. And I can guarantee that there isn’t at least one herb that your child won’t like. Most herbs are already found grounded or snipped into soups, sauces, and sautes and if your child likes pasta just as much as mine does, there are already at least a couple of herbs in there (try basil and thyme).
Herbs are forever easy to grow and maintain. They contain super healthy health benefits. And they look pretty sitting in a clay pot or in their own secluded spot in the garden. Because of their ease in growing and usage, herbs are also a great beginner’s plant so it’s highly suitable for kids to learn how to start planting.
Below I’ve outlined some of the easiest and most common herbs to plant as well as some unusual herbs that you have to try just because they’re so unique. Teach your children the incredible health benefits of herbs as well as the start of loving the art of gardening.
Annual Herbs (herbs that live up to a year and may die off once the cold weather comes):
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – Basil thrives in warm weather so this annual herb may grow year round depending on your region. Basil is great in hearty dishes such as soups and stews. Medicinal purposes include aromatherapy, memory focus, bug repellent, antioxidant, and anti-fungal.
Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) – Cilantro has a slight bite to it so it’s great for kicking up a recipe that calls for similar type herbs. Medicinal purposes include aiding digestion, cleans breath, and anti-inflammatory.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) – Dill has a very strong fragrance and taste to it so it’s easily recognizable. It’s what you’ll find in many pickling techniques as it’s also great for preserving vegetables. Medicinal purposes include aiding digestion, insect repellent, and aromatherapy.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) – Parsley can also be grown up to two years depending on the region. Parsley can be used in salads and soups and has a light and refreshing taste. Medicinal purposes include antibacterial, supports healthy blood flow, and enhances the immune system. Click here for an easy and great-tasting Pesto sauce using Parsley.*
Perennial Herbs (herbs that can live two or more years often growing and spreading each year):
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – Chives are similar in taste to green onions and scallions and can be used in similar cooking methods. Medicinal purposes include detoxifying the body, aids in digestion, and improves vision health.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – Fennel is mostly used for its seeds and has a similar spicy taste to anise seeds. Fennel is great in salads and soups and the fresh fennel stems can be eaten raw much like celery. Medicinal purposes include aiding digestion, preventing inflammation, and improving immune system.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Ginger is a flowering plant but is mostly used for its roots. Ginger has many uses for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It can be quite spicy depending on the amount you use and is great as drink tonics and is prominent in Asian food recipes. Medicinal purposes include digestive aid, nausea, and antibacterial properties.
Mint (Mentha) – Mint is pretty well known to kids as an ingredient found in chewing gum and toothpaste. Because of this familiar taste, mint can also be used to flavor beverages and in soups. There are many variations of mint and each mint holds its own distinct flavor such as chocolate mint, spearmint, and peppermint. Medicinal purposes include digestive aid, aromatherapy, and bug repellent.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) – Oregano is popularly used as a dried herb and can be found in most stews and sauces. This herb is extremely hardy and easy to grow and has a pleasant fragrance. Medicinal purposes include antibacterial properties, antiseptic, and supports immune system.
Evergreen Perennial Herbs (hardy herbs that grow into shrubs and can stay green all winter long):
Bay (Laurus nobilis) – Bay leaves or bay laurel has a very distinct flavor and taste that can be found in most stews and sauces. It is mainly used for flavoring and not commonly known to eat the entire leaf. Medicinal purposes include antioxidant properties, stimulates appetite, and bug repellent.
Lavender (Lavandula) – Lavender comes in many varieties and are most popularly known for its fragrance rather than its culinary uses. Lavender can be used in soups and beverages as it has a very distinct flavor and taste. Medicinal purposes include aromatherapy, bug repellent, and soothes headaches.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Rosemary has a natural evergreen appeal and can be used as a decorative plant rather than for culinary uses. However, Rosemary is commonly used as a seasoning and flavor enhancer in soups and meat dishes. Medicinal purposes include antioxidant properties, bug repellent, and antibacterial properties.
Thyme (Thymus) – Thyme plants thrive in hot, dry weather and once established can handle dry spells. The fragrant sprigs of thyme works well in soups and as seasoning for meat dishes. There are also many variations of Thyme so choose one or two that works well with your culinary purposes. Thyme is commonly used in all-natural alcohol free hand sanitizers and has been used for many centuries to prevent infections. Medicinal purposes include antibacterial purposes, detoxifying purposes, and bronchial illnesses.
As with all herbs and plants, please use cautionary concern when eating and cultivating herbs. Certain herbs have more beneficial properties than others and/or have more dangers as well. When choosing herbs to plant, find them at well-known nurseries and preferably organic to ensure seeds and seedlings were not treated with chemicals. Most herbs can be planted straight into the ground with fresh soil while others are wonderful as tabletop plants and grown indoors.
So this week or any other week, take your children to the local nursery and pick out a few herbs to start planting. Fall is a great time of year to plant herbs as the weather is still nice enough for these herbs to thrive and flourish.
*Recipe taken with permission from Delicious Living magazine/New Hope Network.
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