I’ll never forget the first time I went herb shopping. I read a book about housecleaning with herbs. How cool I thought. The lady who wrote the book talked about putting mint in her wash water, so away I went in search of mint. I knew I liked the smell of mint and the way my mouth felt cool when I chewed mint gum, so I reasoned why wouldn’t I like cleaning with mint?
When I got to the nursery I was shown a candy mint. The lady encouraged me to smell it. It did have a candy smell to it, sweet, but refreshing. That plant was going home with me. What other plants were there that smelled good I asked. She showed me numerous other herbs, but I don’t remember any of them as clearly as I do the candy mint.
When I got home, I planted it in the ground and promptly cut off all the leaves – every last one. I assumed it would grow back. What a mistake! Not only did I lose the plant but when I went back to get more they were all gone! I did however, enjoy mopping the floor and doing dishes that day! What a delight it was to work with candy mint!
That was my introduction to herb gardening. Within the next two months I had a proper herb garden complete with different varieties of mint, dill, horseradish, lemon balm, thyme, oregano and a slew of other fragrant leaved herbs including scented geraniums.
Since I had no idea what to do with these plants other than use them in my wash water, I went to the library to find out. Wow! Potpourri! How cool that idea was! I could make my own. Then I discovered I could make incense. Awesome! The real eye opener however was that they were edible! Imagine that, scented and edible! What more could one ask for!
From that day on, herbs went into everything. Friends started talking about coming to my house to eat weeds in their foods. Even my kids were saying I fed them weeds! I patiently explained they were herbs, but not a lot of people caught my drift. I kept on using them, experimenting, sometimes using a bit too much, sometimes not enough. My love of herbs grew. No garden was complete without them. I brought them into the house in winter, then as I graduated to a greenhouse, added them there.
My first few herb gardens were hodge podge gardens with this herb and that herb mixed together. No one but me could tell what the herbs were. I tried labeling but the labels broke or were blown away. Today my herb garden is being revamped. It is being moved into raised beds with one type of herb per bed. I am still working on labeling ideas, but at least they are organized.
From that tiny candy mint plant years ago, I have evolved. Herbs I now grow include culinary sage, yarrow, thyme, lemon balm, lime balm, hops, horseradish, comfrey, spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, banana mint, chocolate mint, fennel, chamomile, rue, hyssop, motherwort, parsley, dill, oregano, lady’s bedstraw, sweet grass, vanilla grass, echinacea, St.John’s Wort as well as a slew of others. On my most wanted list is candy mint, ginseng and goldenseal.
If you haven’t started an herb garden, there is no better time than now. Growing your own herbs will not only delight you if you toss a few into your wash water, but will liven up your cooking, your bath time and many can be used medicinally to boot!