STARTING A MEDICINAL HERB GARDEN
AND THE LIVIN'
Whether you’re living easy on some backcountry road or twenty floors up a glamorous skyscraper, everyone is falling in love with the season. Breezy open windows, fresh food, and easy livin’— summer is sublime. One of the best parts of this season is the abundance of fresh and local herbs. Not everyone has a backyard, but if you have a sunny window space or terrace than there is almost no limit to the easy garden herbs you can grow. As we start to plant our seedlings on our porches and fire escapes here at A Green Beauty, we thought we’d share the top 5 summertime herbs we simply couldn’t live without.
Tulsi is a delicious medicinal basil with a history that stretches back thousands of years. Next to the lotus, tulsi is considered the most sacred plant in India. Traditionally, every family kept a pot of this sacred herb right outside their door. Also called Holy Basil, Tulsi is thought to bring on states of joy, virtue, love and devotion, as well as spiritual nourishment. Physically, tulsi is an incredible medicine for just about everything. Taken in tea or tincture form tulsi can fight a variety of maladies, including colds, bronchitis, allergies, skin conditions, indigestion, heartburn and depression. Tulsi is also an adaptogen and nervine; sipping on a cool cup of tulsi tea with lemon will do wonders to help clear your mind and calm your mood. Recent research has even found that tulsi can actually dechlorinate water. If you’re in a pinch, toss a small handful into your tap water. Supremely easy to grow and vigorously prolific; use fresh sprigs of tulsi to garnish a salad or add it to your summer pesto for an exquisite anise flavor.
Lemon Balm is one of the most heavenly additions to any summertime iced tea. Vibrant, tangy and aromatic, Lemon Balm will do wonders to enliven your mood. As both an antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), this sweet herb is powerful medicine. Try a strong cup of tea at the end of the long day and feel your stress just melt away. Lemon Balm is also an excellent antiviral herb; studies have even found that habitual use can help prevent herpes breakouts. Gentle on the stomach and supremely calming, lemon balm is a fabulous remedy for cramps, gas, upset stomach, and sleeplessness. Safe for people of all ages, this zesty herb is fabulous in homemade salad vinaigrettes, fresh lemonade, or ground up into a savory pesto with garlic, miso and almonds.
Peppermint is common, comforting and easy to grow— there is a reason why peppermint is so popular. Although you can find this herb in just about every corner store, don’t overlook the benefit of having your own fragrant pot on your windowsill. A handful of fresh peppermint adds an extra dash of mellow refreshment to any dish. Try chopping up a few sprigs in a fresh beet and carrot salad or freshly made tabouli. Lemonade, smoothies, fruit salads and mojitos— there is no end to the amount of amazing combinations. Not only is mint delicious, it’s a fabulous herbal remedy for bloating, gas, nausea, IBS, headaches and stomach pains. Next time you wake up with an unsuspecting hangover, you’ll be happy to have such a sweet ally at hand—there is nothing better for those crumbly early mornings than a cool glass of fresh mint tea.
Cilantro is a summertime delicacy. This fragrant herb thrives in warm weather. No other time of the year will you find cilantro that is as delicious as that first freshly picked handful. For us at AGB, growing a head of cilantro every summer is a simple must. This unusual herb is unlike any other. Its aroma is unmistakable and essential for so many summertime dishes. From cold Middle Eastern soups to fresh fish tacos, cilantro is indispensible. Some may not like its flavor, but everyone can enjoy its unique health benefits. Cilantro has the incredible ability to escort heavy metals and other toxic agents from your body. Powerful and purifying, cilantro will help cleanse your liver, improve digestion, and even combat bad breath!
There is an old adage: “why should a man die, when he can go to his garden for sage?” We at AGB would like to add: why should we city-livin' beauties ever get sick if we can just saunter over to our windowsill for the best medicinal culinary herb on earth? Sage is simply amazing. Cooling and enlivening, sage is an excellent remedy for cramps, bloating, or any digestive issues. Its strong antimicrobial properties make it a perfect herb for any cough, colds, or throat infections. Use a strong tea topically for skin rashes, infections, bites, and stings or try a hair wash for pesky summertime dandruff and oil. Sage is also a great tonic for menopause, hot flashes, depression and anxiety. It is an invaluable herb for clearing the mind and restoring brain activity; it can be supremely helpful for improving study and concentration. Sage is delicious with any fresh summer fish or roasted with squash. Our favorite sage recipe? Try muddling sage into a whisky and lemon cocktail. Healthy, refreshing, and utterly delicious— what more could one want from a summer night?