Growing your own herbs is a fun and worthwhile exercise. A large full-service herb garden is the dream of many, but you can grow herbs anywhere. Even the smallest apartment usually has a little window where you can grow a few essentials. Planters can fit nicely onto balconies and there are some really cute items these days designed for growing plants on your table or even on a shelf. Work with your space to find a solution and you can have fresh herbs all year round.
Many people argue that they simply don't have time to grow their own herbs. These same people state that the dried herbs you buy at the grocery store are just as good as anything you can grow at home. This is actually an easy debate to settle. Let's start by addressing time. There's hardly any time commitment at all if you're only growing a few choice herbs in your window. You plant, water, occasionally add plant food, and harvest when you have a need. You don't do any actual work. The plant is the one that has to do all the growing. If you have a sunny window and a ready source of water, you can grow herbs.
The second part of the debate requires you to do a little sampling. Pick a fresh sprig of basil. If you don't have any growing at home (if you do, better yet) head to the nearest supermarket that stocks organic produce. Most of these stores will have a small selection of fresh herbs to choose from. Basil is usually among them. Place the fresh basil in your mouth and chew, savoring the taste. Rinse your mouth with water and chew on a few bits of dried basil. Notice the difference?
Fresh, healthy basil always tastes better than dried. Always. There is no exception to that. If you're going to use dried herbs, try and dry them yourself. At least then you'll know how old they are. With the packaged herbs, you really don't know when they were dried. Taste dwindles with age, so it makes sense that other properties might as well. It's entirely possible (and likely, giving the anecdotal evidence) that older herbs are less effective when it comes to healing. Fresh is better. Always.
Using fresh herbs will make a difference. If you're still not convinced, try a fresh apple from the tree. Or a tomato from your garden. Or just about anything you grow instead of buy at your supermarket. It will all taste better than anything packaged. If you really can't grow a certain herb yourself, check your local farmer's market. They have a lot of herbs that you probably won't.
Besides having a fresher product that will be more effective, growing some of your own herbs is relaxing and satisfying. You can also see exactly what you have left by glancing at the window. And if you've never had the scent of fresh basil, oregano, or thyme (my favorite is lemon thyme) wafting through your kitchen, you don't know what you're missing.
In the end, the greatest benefit of growing your own herbs might be that you have total control over the final product. You get to decide what soil you want, what plant food to use, whether or not to use pesticides (hint: don't use them), how to harvest, and how to dry or otherwise store the herbs you've gown. You get exactly what you put in, and that is a comforting thought.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.