We still might be in the thick of winter’s grip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start on the growing season. Herbs are the perfect greenery to easily grow inside and can be used for flavouring favourite recipes, scenting your home and used as an antibiotic.
“The most popular herbs are parsley and basil for cooking. Fresh basil is something everyone loves. It’s easy to grow. You just have to keep cutting it before it flowers,” says Sharon McBride, Organic Farmer for McBride’s Organic Farm in Oro-Medonte.
Fresh ingredients are always best, especially when you can pluck it right from your windowsill. You can grow your herbs from seedlings, or buy them in early spring from a local green house or organic farm.
“You need a good soil, like an organic mix, and a good light source. Water your herbs to keep them moist. If you water them too much, they’ll die,” explains McBride. “You can put them in larger containers once it’s warm enough outside, or plant them when the frost is gone.”
Some of the best herbs to start growing from seed in February are parsley and rosemary. Herbs such as mint, oregano, sage, thyme and lavender are perennials that can be planted outside after the last frost, spread easily throughout the warmer months and are hardy enough to survive under the snow until next growing season.
“Parsley takes a long time to get started. Lavender likes poor soil. You can actually use lavender to flavour scones and cookies. It adds an interesting flavour. Mint or lemon goes well with lavender too,” says McBride.
Herbs are also great for freshening up your home and leaving a soothing scent. Some of the most fragrant herbs are mint, lemon balm, sage, oregano and lavender. When the weather is warmer and you’ve transplanted your herbs outside, herbs like basil blossoms and lavender flowers will attract bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds.
Beyond the edibility and calming scent of herbs, various herbs are useful for health remedies such as relieving nausea, fighting inflammation and relieving cold symptoms.
“Herbs are used in a lot of remedies. Oregano is good for prevention of cold. Oil of oregano is good,” enlightens McBride. Mint can help an upset stomach, while thyme can get rid of bad breath and help heal mouth sores.
When choosing what herbs you would like to cultivate indoors this year, ensure you ask your green house specialist or organic farmer how to care for each herb and how to use it in your daily routine. It might be worth a call to a naturopath as well to find out different ways you can incorporate your herbs as part of a healthy lifestyle and as a form of prevention and healing.
McBride’s Organic Farm