Who doesn’t love cooking with fresh herbs? I love cooking with fresh ingredients. Using fresh cut culinary herbs and edible flowers is a really special thing. All growers know that from the time the plant is harvested you start losing flavor and nutrients. It’s important to get fresh-cut herbs if you want the most amazing flavor for you and your family.
Permaculture is such a heartwarming way to grow. You work with nature and then nature helps sustain you. We start at the soil and end eating these great herbs.
I start with these 6 bullet points that keep you on the right track.
• Placement- Permaculture makes things easy and efficient when it’s in an herb garden near the kitchen. The easier it is to collect the herbs, the more often you’ll use them. If you have a kitchen window, put the herb garden there. If you don’t have a kitchen window, as long as it’s easily accessible while you’re cooking, you’ll likely use the fresh produce.
• Soil- Soil is the lifeline that connects your food to you. Love your soil and it will love you back. You want to have the best mulch you can find. If you don’t have good fluffy soil, there are a few things you can do. My first suggestion is a mini hügelkultur. Simply mark out the area you will need for the plants you want to grow. Dig out a 2-3-foot-deep trench, and fill it with tree limbs and sections of cut up logs. Fill the hole back in with the soil, cover with thick mulch, and then plant your herbs. It’s that simple. By the end of summer you will have a jungle of herbs.
• Mulch- Having a great mulch is key in the best soils. Mulch can be made of mostly organic matter. Some great ways to make much is from wood chip piles, composted manure, some fresh manures (like rabbit manure and goat manure), leaves, sea weed, straw, hay, etc. Wood chips should be broken down before use because they can steal nutrients. They make fantastic mulch once broken down. Mulch will feed the soil, lock moisture in, and keep the weeds out.
• Culinary herbs- Culinary herbs will make your food pop, especially when you pick them fresh. Some of the basic herbs are onion tops, chives, basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, peppermint, and cayenne. I don’t stop at the basics: I like lavender, sage, tarragon and thyme. The more of these herbs you grow the more you can experiment. I like that I can really work my magic on cheaper cuts of meat using combinations of the herbs. Make your own culinary oils by filling fancy olive oil bottles with some of the herbs.
• Edible flowers- Change things up with a selection of beautiful flowers that you can top your plate or salad with. Some of my favorite are borage, begonia, calendula, chamomile, dandelions, day lilies, hibiscus, marigold, nasturtium, roses and tulip petals. All these flowers should be grown from heirloom seeds or certified non-gmo. Who knows what the genetically modified plant can do to you long term.
• Layout your garden- Establishing your little permaculture herb garden should be a well-thought out task. Place the smaller plants near the sun and larger plants behind the smaller plants. This may change if you have a shade loving plant. Knowing when a plant will grow to its full potential and when it will die will give you opportunity to place certain plants temporarily. Perennials will have to stay where they are, so put them in a permanent position.
Begin a plan with bullet points. Then, design your permaculture herb garden on paper. Consider the path of the sun in your design. Now you have the basics to try and get really creative.
Build a water source like a pond and waterfall to surround with your plants. This won’t only keep your soil moist; it draws in many predator insects and animals that eat your pests. Ponds bring in dragon flies! Dragonflies rule because they eat midges, mosquitoes, butterflies and moths. Aside from that, just the sound of trickling water makes you smile!
Keep your permaculture herb garden pruned. Good pruning of herbs will increase plant growth and remove older tougher leaves. Having groomed plants looks better and maintains airflow to cut down potential diseases.
Not only can you flavor food with your herbs: they make for a great salad. Tomato salads with basil and parsley are delicious and refreshing. I can eat herb salad with every meal; it’s so healthy for digestion.
Many of these plants and herbs can also be used medicinally. Nowadays people seem to go for a pill if they have any issues, but that’s not the way of a homesteader. Here are a few of the medicinal properties of the above-mentioned herbs and flowers.
Some Herbal Uses
Chamomile- Use the flowers for indigestion/colic, anxiety, tension and irritation.
Echinacea- This is an immune booster that is great for the flu.
Lavender- This fragrant herb is used to calm and ease pain. It can also be used as an antiseptic.
Lemon Balm- Lemon Balm relieves anxiety, insomnia, treats cuts, soothes insect bites and calms upset stomach.
Marigold- This sunny plant helps soothe sunburn, acne, ulcers and digestion.
Parsley- This tasty herb can help with upset stomach and bad breath.
Peppermint- Fragrant and infamous, peppermint relieves headaches and helps with digestion issues.
Rosemary- This great herb helps improve memory and concentration.
Lastly, buy your heirloom seeds from a reputable seed dealer. Not only will you find the plants you need; you will find varieties of each. Some will taste better than others, so if you get one that you don’t like, just try another. Once you find the one you like, save your seeds.