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The Many Benefits of Herbs

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The Many Benefits of Herbs

May 9, 2015

Disclaimer: The contents provided by the Melwood Garden Center Blog are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to substitute for the advice of a health care professional.

If you haven’t read my blog titled An Introduction to Herbs please check that out. It will give you details on herb classifications, the general uses associated with each and great tips on how to get started growing herbs at home.

This week I want to go over the growing conditions for your herbs and provide you with a few neat tips including a seasonal calendar.

Growing Conditions

Most herbs need 6 hours of sunlight to grow. But, there are some herbs that can grow in partial shade. Examples of herbs that will thrive in partial shade include thyme, mint, tarragon, dill, parsley and lemon balm.

Growing Calendar

  • January – February: Start planning your herb garden now. Grab a few books and catalogues in order to get a better idea of what you can incorporate and what may be the best herbs for you to grow at home.
  • March: Plant your annual herb seeds indoors. Prep your outdoor garden by turning your soil and adding soil amendments like leaves and compost.
  • April – May: After the last frost of the season begin planting your herbs. Certain herbs (like Basil) do not like cold nights so hold off on planting those until you’re sure those cold April nights are behind you.
  • June – August: Your herbs are ready! Cut and use them all summer. Herbs are at their peak flavor just before they flower. You can cut up to 1/3 of the plant. Helpful hint: It’s best to pick your herbs in the morning.
  • Sept. – December: After the ground freezes mulch your garden. Use your stored herbs as gifts for the holidays.

Freezing Herbs

Remember to harvest your herbs in the morning after the morning dew has dried (when volatile oils are at their peak). Clean in cold water. Drain well. Place in a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture. Then put them in plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, label and store in freezer. Dill, chives, basil and cilantro do well with this method.

Drying Herbs

Tie your herbs together in small bundles with string or cotton. Hang the bunches upside down in a warm dry area – away from direct sunlight. Leave space between them for air circulation. Once dried shred the leaves off the stalk and store them in glass or ceramic jars with lids. Your dried herbs will last for up to 12 months.

Medicinal Uses

Disclaimer: Please use caution and consult a healthcare professional before you use herbs for medical purposes, take herbs as a form of medication; also please be aware of possible allergic reactions and always use in moderation.

As I discussed a few weeks back, the health benefits some people can receive from using herbs were at one time considered folklore. Today, the benefits and effectiveness of herbs are backed by scientific data. The use of herbs for medicinal purposes dates back many years. Chinese herbal medicine has been in use for the past 3500 years!

Studies have shown that certain herbs have specific benefits. I have listed a few below.

  • Peppermint: Settles an upset stomach
  • Rosemary: Increases memory
  • Sage: Eases sore throat
  • Curry: Eases joints and muscle pain
  • Parsley: Relieves water retention
  • Basil: Boosts the production of serotonin
  • Ginger: Reduces nausea and motion sickness
  • Dill: Eases heartburn
  • Cilantro: Reverses toxin buildup that causes fatigue
  • Cayenne: Improves circulation
  • Lavender: Calms your mood, prevents moths

About Melwood

Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.

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