The end of the world as you know it has come.!!! Or maybe you just have a headache that’s giving you delusions. Scare tactics have been used to frighten people into buying so called survival garden seeds for years now. They claim you can grow these seeds when a disaster hits. Only there’s a problems with this proclamations. What they don’t tell you is these overpriced survival garden seed kits aren’t instant food. You need the time and the no how experience to grow these survival gardens. After all, what kind of results could you possibly expect without practice? Well have no fear, grandpa’s here to tell you in his best New York accent, “Fa ged a boud it”!!! With the knowledge you are about to receive, you will have a better understanding of how ready for emergencies you can become.
Herbs have been used for centuries to make cosmetics, insect repellants, food seasonings, medicines, candle scents as well as to freshen close and breath. Serious lessons learned in the past from the improper use of herbs have been noted throughout history. People getting sick or dying show us we need to respect nature’s miraculous gift of herbs. Over the counter medicines and other pharmaceuticals are made with precise doses and are typically considered safe. They go through years of scrutiny and testing before they are able to hit the market. Medical herbs are not as specific. Garden herbs vary greatly in intensity with every plant and in every individual garden. Medical herbs should be used with much caution. These comments should be taken into consideration before a decision to grow and use garden herbs exclusively is made. This being said, it would be especially nice to grow your own medicine cabinet in times of epidemic or shortage. Some garden herbs have been known to be great substitutes for store bought medicines.
The following list is some of my favorite plants and herbs you too may want to consider growing. I have already grown and tried several. Others on this list intrigue me to learn more about. The research from this list is primarily from three sources. The first bit of research is from my own experience at home and in travel studying herbs. Second and third information source is from one, of my favorite seed catalogs“Bountiful Gardens” and the other bit is from a great book called“The Herb Bible” book written by Peter McHoy and Pamela Westland. “The Herb Bible” in my opinion is one of the best herb resource guides ever written. This book gives instructions and recipes for tincture, oils and other wonderful herb uses. The seed catalog “Bountiful Gardens” offers a brief description of some of these herbs and gives you opportunity to acquire the hard to get herbs and plants. I truly feel every gardener should have spices like oregano, basil and mint growing. I promise, after reading my list, you may want some of the others from the list around.
Aloe Vera- Aloe is a succulent plant that has been around since biblical times. Aloe’s cosmetic and medical uses have been well documented. While touring an Aloe Vera farm in Aruba, I was taught basic uses of the thick leaved plant for burns and digestive issues. The plants jelly like interior offers natural laxative relief when ingested. I found blending a small amount of the gel with water will help with ulcers. After all the plant is known to sooth first and second degree burns and is useful for genital herpes. The FDA has banned the yellow coating of the inner gel. This coating is called Aloin. Aloin is considered toxic by our Food and Drug Administration and should be washed off if Aloe is to be used. The US’s FDA has banned the use of Aloe in some foods like yogurt for safety reasons but for whatever reason has allowed Aloe water. The Aruba Aloe farm also had a small factory where locally grown Aloe was made into sunblock and other products. Grandpa gives Aloe two thumbs up, but only ingests Aloe in small amounts. Great recipes for Aloe smoothies are all over YouTube if you do decide to give this easy to grow plant a try.
Andrographis-This plant is often grown and well known in Scandinavian countries. Also called Kriyat or Kalmegh this herb is used primarily for respiratory, flu and common cold issues. Andrographis is a confirmed immune system booster as well as an antioxidant. Asian and Indian growers of this herb claim it also soothes the symptoms of herpes, hepatitis, sore throats and stomach problems
Black Seed Cumin- This is a common herb used to bake breads in the Middle East and India. It is said Black seed Cumin is used to sooth sour stomachs and fevers while also helping with water retention Bountiful Gardenalso notes it is said that Black Seed Cumin is the cure for everything except death.
Black Cohush- Here’s an easy to grow herb that can be grown even under the shade of a tree. Black Cohush is a natural anti-depressant herb as well as a pain reliever and a sedative. Its anti-inflammatory traits help the consumer regulate blood sugar and reduce hot flashes after ingestion.
Basil's come in different shapes, sizes and pungent favors.
All have their uses in the garden and on our kitchen tables.
They are great to grow in between tomatoes, eggplants and other vegetables. Basil’s scents confuse bad bugs that prey on vegetable plants and at the same time attracting beneficial insects.
Italian, Genovese and Sweet Basil all are great in tomato sauce or n salads. Cinnamon Basil, Tulsi and Sacred Basil's are wonderful steeped in hot water for tea. Basil s are anti-inflammatory so they can be supplemented as a natural pill while giving the consumer fresh breath.
The Large elephant or Curly leaf Basil's make a wonderful flavored base under a slice of mozzarella cheese and a tomato slice drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Balloon Flower, Platycodon- This garden border flowering plants flowers can be used in soup, salads and drinks. The flowers can also be steeped to make a useful cough syrup.
Calendula-this beautiful daisy like flowers double as a gentle anti-fungal medicine. Calendula is a relative of the marigold flower and when ingested is said to stimulate the liver, gall bladder, uterus as well as the digestive track. Calendula can also be used as a dye to color things. As a topical agent, Calendula can be made into skin creams that reduce skin inflammation and heal irritated tissue from bug bites.
Chamomile- Chamomile flowers are used worldwide to make soothing teas. These teas have a calming effect to the mind and body. The yellow flowers can also be a good additive to an essential oil. The oil is to be use as a muscle relaxing rub with great aroma in which also calms when inhaled.
Cilantro/Coriander-This plants leaves are Cilantro and its seeds are Coriander. Cilantro is a staple in gardens of people like me that love to make authentic great tasting salsas, like the ones found in Central America. Cilantro looks very similar to Parsley but its flavorful taste like Parsley is unique to itself. When Cilantro bolts (flowers) it’s like a magnet to very small insects like the tiny wasps that are arch enemy to the notorious Tomato Hornworm. These tiny wasps lie there lava into the body of the Hornworm. The lava eventually eats the hornworms brains and kills it. This stop the Tomato Hornworm own life cycle. The seed that comes from the Cilantro flower is called Coriander. Coriander can be drier and eaten whole or ground into a powder. Coriander is a spice found in many Mexican and Oriental foods.
Cumin-Cumin is a great flavored herb to add to bean recipes. This herb is said to reduce flatulence or stomach cramps and help with digestion. Cumin is another pungent herb that can also be baked in cakes and bread or used as a breath freshener.
Dill-Dill is one of the main ingredients in the making of Dill Pickles so you know I grow it. Fresh Dill can also be used culinary in sauces like Tarter, garnishes to beautify any plate and in fish recipes. The Dill flower is another way to attract beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden however it is said Dill will stunt the growth or root crop vegetables so it should be planted with a little distance. Dill is also known to be great for digestion, and is a slight sedative.
Dandelion-This so called weed is a known powerhouse in the world of health benefits. Its natures free detoxifier. Dandelion is proven to remove many toxins and illnesses from our bodies. Maybe that’s why animals love to eat it. Dandelion also is an appetite simulant, a laxative and a diuretic. Its dried roots can also be ground to make a great coffee substitute.
Elecampane-This plant has very large flower stacks so it’s not as easy to blend into gardens without being noticed. Elecampane is a potent antibacterial plant and its uses may be external or internal. A simmered root of this giant can make a strong cough syrup for chest infections and is very useful for asthma relief. Elecampane also can be made into a rub for skin problems like rashes.
Feverfew-The medical potentials of Feverfew have been recognized and used for centuries. A few eaten leaves a day help prevent migraine headaches. Feverfew flowers are another attracter of beneficial insects and can also be useful in oils and tinctures.
Hyssop-Hyssop has been thought to help rid the common cold and Hyssop oil makes a wonderfully fragrant chest rub.
Lavender- Lavender is grown in much of the US for its very fragrant flora. Lavender has a uniquely bold aromatic fragrance, great for use in any potpourri or soap. Medical uses for Lavender include help for depression and headache and have also been known to repel mosquitos.Bees aren’t afraid of the aroma of lavender and often cover the lightly colored small pretty purple flower stacks. Lavender induced oils can be massaged all over the body for a sensuous aromatics rub or used to reduce infection.
Lemon Balm-This herb goes way back and is often grown in the north as a substitute for lemon flavor in dishes that require a citrus taste. Teas made with Lemon Balm are lemony flavored and provide a slight sedative in which calms depression and headaches. Lemon Balm may also be put in laundry balls for that fresh lemon smelling close. Other uses of this herb include potpourri and furniture polish.
True Licorice-This sweet anise flavored herb is a known anti-inflammatory which combats fatigue, exhaustion, ulcers all while giving the flavor of black licorice. The flavor of this herb is derived from drying its roots and ingesting them. True Licorice is a pretty cool plant.
Maca-Maca was thought by the early Inca civilization to enhance fertility and be a powerful aphrodisiac. Apparently the variety sold by “Bountiful Gardens” will thrive in regular garden conditions so watch out blue pill!
Marshmallow-Marshmallows natural flavor can be used in cakes, salads or teas. The plants dried root can be made into a soothing rub for skin inflammation. Ingested marshmallow is said to help with stomach pain, calm mucus and urinary track pain. Marshmallow can also be used to sooth sore teeth and gums. Dried roots of this herb can be simmered in honey and are useful for sore throats or coughs.
Mint-All mints are fantastic for many home uses. Mints have a nice scent that can be used in potpourri, candles and in laundry balls. Mint also naturally tends to repel mosquitos.Cats love catnip which is also included in the mint family. Internally, mints sooth stomachs so making tea or candies with mint is a great idea. I like to chew a peppermint leaf combined with a Stevia leaf while walking my garden. It’s a great taste like spearmint gum. This combination also makes my breath smell sweet and good without the use of sugar. Sucking on a real spearmint candy is great to calm when anxiety hits. Mints have relaxing effects. They are one of the best herbs to have around if any disaster related issue hits. The only caution I must tell you with this herb is mint multiplies and spreads quickly. It should only be grown in contained areas like flower pots or well deeply confined areas. Mint will quickly take over a vegetable garden with its deep reaching root structure, so it’s not a good fit in the regular garden. Dogs also have an instinct to eat mint when their stomachs are sick, so place some pots within their reach to.
Mullen- Mullen’s leaves have a smooth fuzzy texture that feels soft and gentle to the touch. Maybe this is why in some groups Mullen is known as the toilet paper plant. Mullen leaves can prove to be one of our best friends if toilet paper is ever in short supply. Mullen also has other uses. Dried leaves can be steeped in water to make teas or smoked as a tobacco substitute. Oil steeped flowers can be used to sooth earaches. Mullen grows wild in the Arizona high country and probably all over the country. When I was in Arizona’s mountains I found Mullen to be growing wild on the edges of the roads and highways. I took some seeds home and now am growing some in my landscaping. Mullen is the soft, easy to grow gift from Mother Nature.
Stinging Nettle-The stinging Nettle has its name for a reason, it stings when touched. Though this herb irritates skin in its natural form, cooking or drying it removes the sensation so it can show its usefulness.Stinging Nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals especially iron. Horse trainers often feed these Nettles to their racehorses to increase their stamina. This may also help humans as well in smaller doses. Stinging Nettle is also a treatment for arthritis, anemia, and fatigue. Stinging Nettle is an anti-inflammatory agent. Dried nettles can also help with acne and hair care products.
Oregano-Oregano is a pantry staple. It is great dried or fresh for use in pizza sauce, meats, vegetables, salads or salad dressings. The small Oregano flowers attract many of the beneficial insects organic gardeners require. Fresh oregano is also one of those delicious leaves to taste on the garden walks.
Plantain-Plantain, like Dandelion is typically considered a weed by the masses. What’s not realized by most is the wide leaves have healing powers. The leaves make a great poultice bandage which will sooth any cut or insect sting and heal it quicker. Plantain also is nutritious but does have a laxative effect so should be ingested in moderation.
Spilanthes-Spilanthes is knownas the toothache plant. If the leaves are chewed, a tingling sensation occurs in the mouth. Larger quantities can kill pain and fight infection from bacteria or fungus.
Savory-Savory is another pungently flavored herb which is considered to be an aphrodisiac. It can be steeped in tea water or added to soups for help in soothing intestinal distress. Savoy is also a great herb on pork.
Sage-Sage is a great tasting herb which may be used to flavor any protein. Sage makes a great flavored mouth wash which may help fight gum disease. A drop of Sage infused essential oil will settle an insect bite or a bee sting.
Stevia- It is said a teaspoon of dried Stevia leaves is 300 times stronger than a teaspoon of sugar. Growing and drying Stevia at home may be a great way to cut down on sugar use.The dry Stevia powder you can make from the leaves is not bleached like Stevia powder found in supermarkets. Dried ground Stevia is still green in color. The color shouldn’t bother you once you taste how good sugar free can taste. Put it in a pitcher of lemonade, in a cup of coffee or in a favorite cake recipe. Once you grow Stevia fresh, you will realize the miracle of this plant. Eat a leaf right off the plant and you will understand.
Skull Cap-This North American herb has been used to nourish the central nervous system. It has a calming effect on humans. Dried leaves from this herb are thought to help with PMS, Depression and asthma.
Thyme-Thyme has been used since biblical times to flavor foods. The dried leaves of this perennial evergreen plant are great for any chef to flavor proteins. Medically, Thyme has the ability to be used as an antiseptic.Thyme may be used to sooth coughs; muscle aches or made into an anti-aging cream. Essential infused Thyme oil can be used as a chest rub or inhaled to help with a stuffy head.
Valerian- Valerian has been grown for years medically for its roots. Dried Valerian root is commonly used as a sleeping aid and is found in over the counter medicines as well as whole food type stores. Valerian is a strong herb which should be used with caution. Valerian sedates the brain helping to relieve anxiety, stress headache, depression, cramps, joint pain and sleeping disorders. Driving and using Valerian are not a good combination. It is proven to work and a great herb to have around during stressful and short supply survival type times. My first attempt to grow this herb was unsuccessful. It was a colder than normal winter and the green house didn’t hold the proper temperature. My next attempt will be on the seed heated mat.
Yarrow-Yarrow has also been cultivated since ancient times and used to stop bleeding, heal wounds and help with headaches, flu and fever. Both the leaves and the flowers are astringent. They sooth pain and aches are cleansing to the wounds.
Preserving Herbs -Collected garden herbs can be stored by fresh freezing, drying or made into tinctures and essential oils. Drying herbs is probably the easiest and least expensive method of preserving herbs. Dried herbs sometimes taste a little different than their fresh counter parts, but are easy to put in any kitchen pantry. They don’t take up much room and are convenient to store. Dried herbs in the kitchen liven up any food and are welcome sight to the chef of the house.
Oils can be made with herbs to flavor dressing, sauces and marinates. Herb infused oils are often the way to use herbs medically.
Herbs can be preserved and used to make paints, cosmetics, hair-care products, perfumes, potions, scented soaps, washing balls and lotions. “The Herb Bible” gives great recipes for food and cosmetics if you want to give them a try
Herbal Tisanes Herbal tea is a great way to use home grown herbs and the medical purposes are almost infinite. Steeping herbs in hot water and sweetened with Stevia or honey is a wonderful way to de-stress or medically use your garden herbs.
Tinctures Herbs can be made into tinctures using vodka. Fill your vessels with your desired herb and cover with vodka. Leave stand for about 14 days. The alcohol will extract the herbs desired elements and give you their true concentrated effect. If you’re in doubt of this comment, do an experiment. Put a vanilla pod into a quart of vodka. In a few weeks taste it. You will have made the cheapest and best vanilla extract money can buy.
Aromatherapy Essential plant oils have been in use since ancient days for medical uses. Infused oils can sooth in many ways. Sandalwood, Jasmine, Frankincense, Lavender and Rosemary are just a few scents you may want to try.
Decoration and Dyes Herbs are also often used in holiday decorations like wreathes or in candles and flower arrangements. Many colored dyes are easy to make with herbs also. Typically, a wide range of color can be made from leaves like Elder for green dye. Berries from herb make great purple, blue and red dyes. Calendula can make a great orange or yellow dye.
As you can see, herbs are multi-functional and some should be planted in every garden no matter garden size. Herbs can even be grown in small places like apartment. They add color, scent and the luxury of have fresh flavor at your fingertips. Herbs are Gods’ gift to us.
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