Growing Herbs - Your Indoor Herb Garden Ideas

We believe that gardening is good for our souls, well being and certainly our stress level!
Garden Plant imageA perfect way to get the taste of summer is by growing herbs indoors during the cold months. Most people don’t realize just how easy it is to have your own kitchen herb garden. It doesn’t matter if you decide to start your garden from scratch or from a handy herb garden kit, you’ll find everything you need to know here.
You also can save money on your grocery bill without compromising on flavor by growing your own herbs indoors during the winter. Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano and marjoram have a reputation for being hard to grow indoors—but it's easy to keep these delicious culinary herbs alive all winter long if you give them the right amount of light, water and humidity.

Now, more than ever before, people are beginning to realize that good health does not refer to an absence of disease. Rather, it is a balance of physical, mental, emotional and social wellness. Herbal health care is becoming increasingly popular because herbs provide natural stimulants that activate the body's own defence mechanisms.

Due to our sedentary lifestyle, processed foods and industrial advances, we have managed to discover a large number of chronic illnesses that were virtually unknown in the past. Medicines used to treat these diseases have side effects. In time, these medicines also become ineffective as the human body develops a resistance to the medicine. After battling it out for many years, practitioners of conventional medicine are finally willing to admit that herbs (medicinal, tea and even cooking) are an effective source of healing.

Today, consumers are turning to herbs for increased health and vitality, as well as for more domesticated duties such as decorating and cooking. Growing herbs can be an easy process and the results can be used to add flavor to meals, make soothing and relaxing herbal teas or for making fragrant sachets, potpourri, scented candles and oils.

Herbs from the home garden provide the path to a slower pace of life. What could be more relaxing than a sweetly scented cup of herbal tea. A warm cup of lemon balm tea can make life's troubles vanish, a tall tumbler of an iced peppermint infusion will take the heat out of the fieriest summer day. A sprig of lemon verbena thrown into the teapot with your favorite tea will bring a smile to the faces. Herbal teas can be simple, consisting of one type of herb, or a more complex blend of flavors with many different combinations of tea herbs.

Within this blog, you will find information about growing herbs in the garden and indoor herb gardening, as well as information about growing medicinal herbs. Find out how easy it is to garden when you have the Moon working for you! Gardening by the Moon will help you plan when to sow, plant, water and harvest.  There are also sources for getting supplies and equipment for your own home herb garden. 

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If you would like to grow your own herbs but lack the knowledge of how to get started, then a herb garden kit can be the answer. There are a lot of questions that come along with starting an herb garden. By purchasing an herb garden kit you will have the answers to these questions... and much more.

Saving the Earth and protecting children and pets from dangerous chemicals are the reasons most gardeners cite for giving up pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but guess what? Making the switch to organic gardening methods will save you money too! Here are six examples....

You are an ardent opponent of all kinds of pharmacological innovations and tablets? But colds and viruses attack you from all sides? Do not despair, we will tell you how without "chemistry" help the body to cope with the first symptoms of infection.

There has been a lot of hype in recent years about the potential for a global viral pandemic. SARS, avian flu and West Nile virus are examples from the recent past that could have far worse consequences than what actually occurred. Now it`s H1N1, the latest version of swine flu, that is the big concern.

When it comes to traditional tea, we have three main types, black, green, and white. But if you are ready for something different, try oolong tea. With a different flavor than black, green or white teas, oolongs are a rare treat.
Oolong tea is also sometimes known as Wu long tea or Wulong tea, after it's originator.

Surprisingly but herbs do get pests! While it is true that aromatic oils in many herbs keep the pest away, the tender herbs can become pest ridden. Herbs grown indoors can be easily plagued by pests. If you have purchased herb plants, you may have been surprised to find Fungus Gnat larvae in the soil.

During festive times, after a heavy night of drinking and merry making, people often wake up miserable and it is only then they start to think of a hangover cure. Today's hangover treatments contain ingredients like B vitamins, vitamin C, activated charcoal and many others.

Why would you want to grow herbs in your garden? Fresh herbs are awesome. I love just putting basil leaves on a tuna sandwich and in salads. For the culinary lovers herbs are something they need fresh. Herbs serve as a major source for seasoning in preparation of foods. Herbs have a wider range of use.

Oolong Tea photoWhen it comes to traditional tea, we have three main types, black, green, and white. But if you are ready for something different, try oolong tea. With a different flavor than black, green or white teas, oolong tea is a rare treat.

Oolong tea is also sometimes known as Wu long tea or Wulong tea, after it's originator. Other names for oolong are brown tea and rock tea. The popular varieties are Wu-yi tea, Formosa oolong, Ti Kuan Yin, and Pouchong.

Wulong tea is very popular in Asia. It was first created in China and is still considered China's national tea. Most wu long tea is grown in the Fujian region of China, but some is grown in Taiwan, and a small amount is grown in the Darjeeling region of India and in Vietnam. Chinese varieties give us a more darker and "woody" tasting tea, where as the Taiwanese varieties produce a lighter, more floral tasting brew. In the West, however, wu long tea is one of the least familiar tea varieties.

Recently oolong tea has been marketed as an "Ancient Chinese Secret to Weight Loss". Although this is not completely true, wulong is an important and healthy part of the Chinese diet. In fact, greasy foods in China are often served with wu long tea, because it is known as an obesity fighter.

There are some interesting facts about the increasingly popular Wulong tea:

1. Oolong tea originates from the Camellia sinensis tea plant. It is the processing and fermentation that leaves go through which will determine what type they will become. Wu long tea is the only one that goes through a broad range of fermentation. Wulong tea is a mix between black and green tea.

2. Like green tea, oolong tea contains plant polyphenols that can aid in weight loss. Lately the green tea diet has captured the attention of thousand people trying to naturally lose weight. However, several studies have shown wulong tea to be a better calorie-burner than green tea. Wu long has a higher level of polyphenol concentration than green and black tea. Polyphenols are also known as tannin in the scientific world.

3. Wulong tea has a lesser caffeine content. Experts say that the caffeine content in oolong tea is half as much as in the black and green tea.

4. And finally, the most important oolong tea fact of all is that it is best enjoyed when carefully prepared using the whole loose leaves. People can expect superior aroma, flavor, and health benefits using this method. Tea bags will not offer much flavor or benefits since they contain old pieces of dried up "tea dust" called fannings. Because of this many people may get a wrong impression on what could have been a wonderful cup of tea!

wulong tea imageThe benefits of wulong tea are various. From its unique flavor and aroma to its endless list of health benefits, oolong tea is definitely a must-add drink in your health regimen. Wulong teas have a very fruity flavor, often with smoky or toasted undertones, often with a floral aroma. Because of the natural fruitiness of wu long teas, they are often blended with other flavors. The combination of wu long with tea herbs only enhances the oolong's natural flavour and increases its health benefits.

To know more about wu long tea, here is some of its proven health advantages.

Wu Long Promotes a Weight Loss
Oolong tea give a nice boost to your metabolism, it also helps dissolve excess triglyceride (a substance that is used as fuel for the body, but stored as fat when there is too much of it).This fat burning process is called "thermogenesis" and it provides an extra energy, sheds excess of water, and helps to burn body fat. Believe it or not, this slimming quality of Wu Long tea is just the start of its fantastic health benefits. Oolong tea weight loss results are just remarkable!

Wu Long Fights Diseases and Even Cancer
Free radicals are responsible for causing damage to the cells in the body. This cellular damage is responsible for diseases, the aging process, and even cancer. Oolong tea contains high amounts of potent antioxidants that help to remove free radicals and keep the body in good shape. The wulong tea is considered the powerful weapon in the fight against stomach cancer. A study in Shanghai, China, where wu long is consumed by more than 80% of tea drinkers, showed that oolong tea drinkers had a lower risk of a stomach cancer. Wulong tea contains high concentrations of polyphenols and antioxidants that can prevent growth of a variety of tumors, including stomach cancer.

Wu Long Delay Skin Ageing Process
The same antioxidants also protect the skin from spots and wrinkles. The scientific studies have proven that drinking Oolong tea can improve some skin conditions by over 50%. According to the experts, wulong tea can significantly protect your skin from excessive appearance of dark pigments brought about by free radicals. The free radicals are blamed for facilitating skin ageing. With wu long tea, you can increase polyphenols in the body, which in turn, delay the ageing process.

Wu Long Detoxifies the Body
Oolong tea works as an anti-bacterial agent and helps to produce a clean alkaline environment in the body. This makes it hard for bacteria, fungus, and other microbes to multiply there.

Wu Long Stops Bad Breath
By killing bacteria in the stomach, Oolong tea prevents the bad breath. A Japanese University study also found that regular drinking of wulong tea actually strengthened teeth and helped to prevent tooth decay.

Wu Long Boosts the Immune System
A recent study found that Oolong tea can improve the immune system response when fighting infection. The study indicated that the production of anti-bacterial proteins was up to five times higher in the wu long tea drinkers, which is an indicator of a stronger immune response.

Wu Long Cut Down Triglyceride Level
Too-high triglyceride levels are the factor associated with a greater risk of heart disease. With the help of oolong tea, you can easily gain control in losing triglyceride because of its polyphenol content. This substance activates the enzyme that is in charge of melting fatty deposits known as triglycerides. Plus, wulong tea can facilitate fat metabolism within the body.

Wu Long Enhances Mental Function
Oolong contains several compounds that have stimulating effects on the nervous system. This means that it enhances alertness, focus, and improves brain function and it is one of the few stimulants that is completely safe.

Wu Long Fights Insomnia
The main reason why oolong tea can help to reduce insomnia symptoms is because of the l-theanine content. L-theanine has been well researched and shown to help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a restful sleep. Though wulong tea does contain caffeine, the l-theanine content of the tea helps balance the caffeine out. By day, wulong tea helps keep you alert and by night, it helps promote sleep and even helps to fall asleep.

Wu Long Combats Depression
Many of the tannins and antioxidants found in oolong tea have been shown to reduce stress related to depression symptoms, wu long tea can also help neutralize anxiety, which often accompanies many depression types.

For hundreds of years, wulong tea has been respected for its healing qualities and slimming ability. Wonderful and unique, Oolong tea combines the flavor and delicious taste of black tea, with some of the best health benefits of green tea.


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Source of healing and general well-being

Garden herb pictureMany hundreds of herbs are known to have medicinal qualities. Even in light of modern synthetic medicines many people are looking to herbs as a source of healing, disease prevention, and general well-being. Used correctly and wisely, herbs can provide desirable medicinal results without adverse side effects. 

Therapeutical properties of medical herbs are very useful in healing various diseases and the advantage of these medicinal plants is being 100% natural.

Nowadays people are being bombarded with thousand of unhealthy products, the level of sensibility in front of diseases is very high and that's why the use of medicinal plants can represent the best solution.

Healing with herbs is an old tradition that most of us are aware of but not all of us use. Here you will find some gentle herbs that can take the sting out of simple bug bites or soothe a aching stomach. Easy to grow, these herbs will be well worth the effort.


The most common medicinal herbs:

Astragalus

Burdock

Cayenne

Echinacea

Feverfew

German Chamomile

Lemon Balm

Milk Thistle

Peppermint

St. John's Wort

Valerian

Yarrow


It is so much more than just a fragrant tea

Chamomile Plant PhotoEveryone has heard of Chamomile. The German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, is a native of Europe, and was brought by early settlers to North America. 

For centuries, its flowers and leaves have been brewed and drunk as a fragrant tea, and the health benefits of the tea have been significantly acknowledged. Ancient Egyptians used Chamomile herb as a universal remedy. Modern science is now proving that the ancient cultures knew what they were talking about. 

Researchers in England have found new evidence that the chamomile tea may actually help relieve a wide range of health ailments. Chamomile plant has been used as a remedy for calming the nerves and the stomach, and easing sleep. In addition to that it has a scent that can easily sooth your senses. Along with that, chamomile is also associated with style and elegance. Chamomile is pretty flower, has sweet smelling, daisy like flowers sit atop thin stalks and leaves. 

It is sometimes known as "the plant doctor", because it is thought to help the growth and health of many other plants, especially ones that produce essential oils. It is thought to increase production of those oils, making certain herbs, like mints (peppermint, sage, oregano) and basil stronger in scent and flavor.

Chamomile is one of those herbs that even beginners can grow and it is hardy through much of the globe. Growing Chamomile is really easy.
Culture  
The wonderful thing about this herb is that it's also very easy to grow. 

Seed Spacing             Push the seeds just below the surface at 1/4" depth, need light to germinate. 

Seed Germination      10 to 14 days.

Plant Spacing             Plants should be spaced 6" (15 cm) apart.

Soil Requirements      Generally tolerate a wide range of soil types, the ideal is a sandy soil. 

Sun & Lighting           Chamomile likes a sunny spot, but will tolerate some shade.

Water Requirements   It tolerates dry conditions but will bloom more freely if watered regularly. It will not grow if wet.
Uses   
Chamomile herb photoChamomile relaxes muscle. Drinking chamomile herbal tea help to soothe muscle aches, spasms, stomach and back aches and also reduces menstrual cramps. 
Chamomile tea is an anti-inflammatory remedy that is used to treat skin problems such as acne, burns, stings, allergies, bruises, bites, etc. 
Chamomile tea calms nerves. Drinking chamomile tea helps to calm and soothe down feelings of anxiety, nervousness and depression. This herb is a nervine/sedative which can reduce nervous tension, nourish the nervous system and encourage sleep. 

Chamomile tea is often used against problems such as bloating, nausea, gas, irritable bowel syndrome or stomach pain. It is often known as a plant that strengthens the stomach. 

Chamomile tea boosts the immune system and fight infections related with colds

There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the senses than to enjoy chamomile tea made right out of your own herb garden. Growing chamomile and drinking its tea not only benefits your overall health, but the scent of fresh chamomile can also enhance your senses. 


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    Treat flu & cold without drugs 

    anti virus protection"Plant" grain on a thumb or make a gluhwein and flu will abate. You are an ardent opponent of all kinds of pharmacological innovations and flu drugs? But colds and flu viruses attack you from all sides? Do not despair, we will tell you how help the body to cope with the first flu symptoms without "chemistry".

    Honey massage
    When the first symptoms of cold or flu appear, ask someone to do the honey massage for you (if you are not allergic to honey or have bleeding disorders, and your body temperature is normal). There are no needs of great skills for this, and therapeutic effect will be very impressive.

    For remedial massage use the best flower or buckwheat honey: it has the richest variety of elements and vitamins your body needs to fight the flu virus. To enhance the therapeutic effect of the honey add some pine oil (5 drops of oil in a tea spoon of honey). Oil will provide a tonic, bracing and bactericidal effect.

    Before starting massage take a hot shower and get your body warm to fully open the pores. Pour honey on the palm and apply on the back with a light, pressing motion (there are many projection points, which are responsible for the normal functioning of ENT organs and the respiratory system). Then masseur takes hands off sharply from the body to pull out all the dirt. After a couple minutes of massage a gray film is formed on the skin - this is the slag. Masseur has to regularly wipe his hands and apply a fresh honey on them. Session length - from 10 to 30 minutes. Then wash off the honey with warm water and spread skin moisturizer, put on warm pajamas and run to the bed.

    Repeat the massage every other day for two weeks - that is how much time you need to withdraw all the deep slag and viral toxins. Breaks are needed not to traumatize the skin, but after the first treatment you will feel the palpable relief.

    remedial massageEFFECT: Remedial massage improves blood circulation in the deeper layers of skin and muscles. It increases the power of the internal organs and tissues. Honey "detaches" toxins from the skin and gives instead its biologically active substances. This allows not only get rid of colds and flu viruses, but also recover after busy working day and cure many diseases (headaches, arthritis, sciatica, low back pain, myositis).

    Herbal bath
    Once you feel the first signs of cold or flu symptoms (sore throat, weakness, light chill) arrange a bath day and take a healing herbsl bath (be sure you do not have a fever). To do this take Yarrow, Calamus root, Oregano, Tarragon and Pine buds. Boil 500 g of these herbs in equal proportions in 5 litters of water for 10 minutes. Then strain the broth and pour into the tub. Water temperature should be 39 degrees, and the duration of the procedure - 15 minutes. After the bath - in bed!

    EFFECT: This kind of bath relieves nervous tension, provides sound sleep and fights incipient cold and flu. Pine buds have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, sudorific, anesthetic effect, and the remaining herbs have a tonic effect and stimulate the immune system.

    Garlic Inhalation
    If at work or at home someone is sick with cold or have a flu symptoms, protect your mucous membrane with phytoncides. To do this mince 5 cloves of garlic and quickly, to not evaporate contained in garlic "flu killers", apply gruel to a bandage. Put it on the bottom of an empty preheated teapot and close the lid. Take the spout in your mouth, hold your nose with your fingers and breathe in the healing aroma, holding breath for a few seconds. For exhales release nostrils. Repeat for 10 minutes. Remember to conduct inhalation no earlier than 30 minutes after meal to prevent a devastating effect on the mucous membrane of the stomach and esophagus.

    EFFECT: Five such inhalations per day (with intervals not less than 4 hours) abate not only a runny nose, cough and angina, but even bronchitis.

    Magic Su Jok
    Ancient South Korean medicine said that by affecting fingers and toes you can quickly say goodbye to colds, coughs and flues. In Su Jok is considered that the first phalanx of the thumb corresponds to the head, the second – to the neck, and the rise of the palm of your hand meets the chest. These are points which we need to press and warm up. Imagine that the first phalanx of the thumb is the man's face and press during the day on the desired points (nose, throat, forehead etc.). For clarity, draw an upper body on the finger.

    flu cureArriving home at night, make an alcohol compress to the second phalanx, which is responsible for the neck and throat. To do this wrap the part of the finger with gauze soaked in alcohol and cover it with cellophane. Keep the compress all night. And if the cold is already actively attacking, you will need long-term stimulation with seeds of plants.

    For a cold, pain in the throat or hoarse voice seeds of radish, black pepper, lentils, buckwheat, peas and lemon are recommended. Just watch for the fact that the seed was "alive". Attach a grain with a plaster to appropriate point for the day, than replace with new. Continue the procedure for a week.

    EFFECT: Such stimulation affects directly sick organs of the body, forcing them to "work" at full strength and has a harmonizing effect. Vodka compress reduces pain in the throat and facilitate swallowing, and glued grains will put you on the feet within a few days.

    Tasty Gluhwein
    In the absence of contraindications (heart disease, diabetes) indulge yourself at night with a glass of warm medicinal drink. To do this pour into an enamel pot 100-150 g of dry red wine and sprinkle spices to taste (cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice). Heat the mixture thoroughly, without boiling. Then pour in a thermos, add a couple slices of sour apple or lemon and leave for 10 minutes. Pour directly into the glass, add honey or rosehips syrup to taste.

    EFFECT: Wine is a good antiseptic, which is rich in vitamins and amino acids. Spices are warming and increase blood circulation. And there is a lot of vitamin C in the sour apple and lemon, which helps fight colds and flu viruses. But do not overdo it with alcohol - one glass at night is enough to give the body strength to fight the common cold.

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    Advantages of Herb Garden Kits

    Herb GardenIf you would like to grow your own herbs but lack the knowledge of how to get started, then a herb garden kit can be the answer. There are a lot of questions that come along with starting an herb garden. Which herbs do better if they are grown from seeds? What is the right kind of soil to grow herbs in? How much water do they need? What kinds of herbs will I grow? By purchasing an herb garden kit you will have the answers to these questions... and much more.

    Herb garden kits are specialized for a certain type of herb, and there are a large variety of kits available. Some examples are: Italian herbs, culinary herbs, international herbs, French herbs, herbal tea herbs, salsa herbs and many more. All herb kits contain similar items to get you up and running successfully.

    All herb kits will contain the necessary seeds for the type of kit you have bought. They may contain a clear plastic dome or cover, giving consistent temperature and humidity to your plants to thrive and grow a healthy root system. There will be a base or planter to hold soil or growth pellets, where you will sow the seeds.
    Again, all kits are different but, most kits will also provide either soil or pellets for growing the seeds. An essential part of each kit is the instructional guide, with easy to follow directions. Some kits even offer recipes for using the herbs that you are growing!

    Growing herbs indoors from a herb kit has many benefits. The consistent growing conditions that are provided lessen your worries about winterizing herb plants or herbs that are not able to survive the winter weather conditions. The herbs have a constant temperature in which to thrive.

    Most herb garden kits are small and compact, so are great for small spaces or apartments. You can easily control how much light and water your herbs get. By growing herbs indoors and following the instructional guide, you will take out the guess work. Success guaranteed!

    Also, with the herbs right there in the kitchen, it will be easier to enjoy and use them. No treks out to the garden to collect a bit of one herb or another to add a little zing to the pot on the stove or to make an original herbal tea. It is also very easy to harvest the mature herbs and freeze or dry them for the future.

    Although you will certainly want to become an expert herb gardener with an outdoor herb garden, by starting with a herb kit you can experience different herbs and decide which you would like to grow permanently. You will have a good idea also about the growing conditions your herbs require. Now, just take your herbs and transplant them from the kit out into your garden and you are on your way to becoming an herb expert.


    About the Author:
    Gardening expert Nicki Goff offers a free e-mail starter course all about her main passion... herb gardening. For access, visit her website, http://www.HomeHerbGardener.com. You'll find more great tips, and her new comprehensive e-book on creating, maintaining and enjoying your own home herb garden right here.
    Article Source: ArticlesBase.com - Advantages of Herb Garden Kits


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    How to Start Your Own Herb Garden

    Herb Garden PictureThere are tons of different home gardening tips, indoor gardening tips, organic gardening tips, vegetable gardening tips - no wonder you can find it so overwhelming to figure out just which specific tips are going to be most useful. If this is your situation, you should know that out of all of these, there are a few home gardening tips in particular that are going to be useful for you to learn.

    Why would you go for an indoor garden?

    It will make your house look nice, and you feel good. You'll almost never need to brave the harsher weather elements that nature will throw at you for trying to compete with her. And ultimately in the grand scheme of things, it's good for you.

    It's difficult to imagine how indoor gardening could be good for you, but really it has nothing to do with the gardening itself, more with the plants instead. If you hark back to the good old days of high school and peer pressure, you might just remember vaguely hearing something in science class about plants and photo-something-or-other.

    Just to remind, it's a procedure called photosynthesis, where plants remove carbon dioxide from the air, and release oxygen into it instead, thereby removing pollutants from our environment. If you're living in a jungle there's not too much of a problem with that, but living as we are in our singular little houses, indoor plants are the next best thing.

    A simple and easy place to start with would be try your hand at herb gardening. Simple to grow, useful in the kitchen, and best of all not the prima donna type.

    Gardening, of any kind, just doesn't get any better than indoor gardening.


    Best of the Primary Home Gardening Tips

    1. Easy maintenance and low costs are the main advantages of herb gardening. If you opt for indoor gardening, make sure you choose appropriate pots or containers.
    2. First you’ll want to choose the herbs that you’ll plant. You might have a hard time doing this because of the huge scope of herbs available. When I got ready to start my herb garden, I took a look at the spices in my kitchen cabinet and decide which ones I enjoy the most. I made a list of all the herbs my family and I enjoy and those are the ones I planted in my herb garden. By planting your own collection of these herbs, you can save money on buying them from the grocery store while having the added benefit of freshness. Some of the herbs you might start with are listed in cooking herbs,  medical herbs and tea herbs posts.
    3. When getting started your herb garden, you should remember that the soil should have extremely good drainage. If the dirt gets watered and stays completely saturated, you have no chance of ever growing a healthy plant. One of the best ways to fix the drainage problem is put a layer of crushed rocks at the bottom of the pot or a container you are going to use. This will allow an extra water to escape, thus saving your plants.
    4. Ensure that the soil is of very good quality. In fact, if the purchased soil has organic matter added to it, so much the better; the herbs will grow faster. If you feel that soil quality does not matter, then you should not worry about the quality of your herbs either!
    5. Grass
    6. Indoors or outdoors, no plant can live without sunlight. Most of the herbs need to be under direct sunlight; so placing them near windows is best. But it would be wise to keep the plants a few inches away from the window and not in direct contact with the window glass or window sill. During winter months, the temperature near the window is much cooler than the temperature a little inside the room.
    7. The plants in your indoor herb garden need trimming from time to time. Otherwise, they may become too big for the containers or pots. Trimming should be done with a pair of sharp scissors, never with a knife. A knife can damage the plants because a pulling motion is used.
    8. When you are ready to begin planting your herbs, you might be tempted to buy the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much easier to grow them from seed than it is with other plants. Therefore you can save a bundle of money by sticking with seed packets.
    9. One of the often overlooked gardening tips by the new gardener is not paying attention to the proper time to begin seed starting. One of our tips is gardening by the phases of the moon. Gardening by the Moon is another option to introduce into your gardening to give you a bit of an edge when failure is NOT an option.

      There is nothing like fresh herbs and especially, if you are the one that grew the herbs. So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you should probably consider setting up an herb garden. It might require a little bit of work at first to set it up for optimal drainage, and pick what herbs you want to grow. But after the initial hassle, it’s just a matter of harvesting all your favourite herbs

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    Fresh and Tasty Digestion Helper

         Basil is truly an incredible herb. It is enjoyed for its rich and spicy, mildly peppery flavor with a trace of mint and clove. Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family. Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means "to be fragrant." Flowers on the ends of branches are either white or lavender. Basil is native to India and Asia and having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years.

    Basil Plant Image
         With so many attributes it isn't any wonder that basil has become increasingly popular over the years. Being a member of the mint family, it is not surprising to see it recommended for digestive complaints. So instead of an after dinner mint, try sipping an after dinner cup of basil herbal tea to aid digestion and dispel flatulence.
    Herbalists have recommended basil for years for stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation. Basil has been described as having a slight sedative action, which would explain why it is sometimes recommended for headaches and anxiety.
    Culture

    Basil is surprisingly easy to grow. Sow seeds in a flat, and cover them with a moistened, sterile mix to a depth not more than twice the size of the seed.

    Seed Germination        5 to 7 days.

    Seed Spacing                 No pre-treatment needed. Sow seeds on soil surface at 70F. 

    Plant Spacing                 3/8 to 1/2 inch apart in the flat. 

    Soil Requirements       Tolerates most soils, but best is rich, well-drained, moist, with pH  between 6 and 7.                     
    Sun & Lighting               Grow best in a sunny location.

    Water Requirements    Average water needs but moisture is important to a good basil crop. 

    To encourage a bushy, healthy plant and to maximize production, don't be afraid to prune basil. Pinch off the flower buds as soon as they begin to emerge. Basil will usually have to be pruned every 2 to 3 weeks.
    Uses  

    Basil herb photoThe best flavour is found in fresh leaves, but frozen and dried leaves are worth the effort also. The leaves can be used cooked or raw. Crush, chip or mince the leaves and add to recipes, or add whole leaves to salads. Sprigs of basil make a wonderfully aromatic garnish. The flowers are beautiful, edible, and also make a unique garnish. 

    Basil is traditional in Italian, Mediterranean and Thai cookery. It is superb with veal, lamb, fish, poultry, white beans, pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese and eggs. It blends well with garlic, thyme and lemon. Basil adds zip to mild vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, spinach and to the soups, stews and sauces in which these vegetables appear, and to add to its versatility, basil is also one of the ingredients in the liqueur chartreuse.


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    Coffee Herbs 

    Coffee Photo     Coffee mixes well with herbs to moderate its effects or to create synergistic blends. Coffee lowers levels of type 2 diabetes due to flavanoids, magnesium and increasing the metabolic rate. Alcoholics at risk for cirrhosis of the liver have lower rates. Asthmatics have fewer attacks and can head them off with coffee or a coffee foot bath. Alzheimer’s can be slightly reversed and progression reduced. Coffee is associated with 24%lower levels of colon cancer, 21% lower incidence of gallstones and an 60% reduction in Parkinson’s Disease and in a dose-dependent manner will reduce inflammation as marked by C-reactive protein. 

         We have all heard that coffee is bad for us, and it does have alkaloids and essential oils that can be overly stimulating. Caffeine can stress our adrenal glands and it is energetically warming which is not always desirable. Most commercially available coffee is highly sprayed with pesticides, which is why shade-grown organic is best. Coffee can potentiate medications or medicinal herbs which means that we may need to adjust dosages. More than three cups daily during pregnancy increases the miscarriage rate (but decaf correlates with even more.) It makes fibrocystic breasts and fibroids worse and eliminating coffee can increase good health in many other areas.

         Coffee can not displace green or black tea which have numerous health benefits. It may keep us up at night (although there are certain individuals who sleep better with it.) In fact many of us who drink coffee are addicted and will get headaches if it is withdrawn, which is not desirable.


    Copyright by Karen S. Vaughan, L.Ac., MSTOM
    To read the full article: Acupuncture and Herbs, Coffee Herbs

    Herbal Prozac  

    St. John's Wort herb     St. John's Wort, Hypericum Calycinum or Aaron's Beard, is an easy to grow herb, with over three hundred of varieties. It is used primarily for medicinal purposes. St. John's Wort is believed to have been named after St. John the Baptist. It originated in Europe and Asia where it grew wild in woods, fields and along roadsides. Sometimes called "herbal Prozac," St. John's Wort is mostly used to relieve depression and anxiety
    The history of using St. John's Wort also goes back thousands of years, and it has been used as a safe and effective herbal medication for at least 2400 years. The founder of medicine, Hippocrates, was known to prescribe St. John's Wort herb for relief of such common ailments as dysentery, tuberculosis, haemorrhage, jaundice, colds, and insomnia.

    St. John's Wort is a hardy, partially woody perennial, an upright growing, unpleasant smelling, clumping plant. Its small, smooth, oval leaves have numerous tiny oil glands, borne in opposite pairs along the stems. The small golden yellow flowers are borne in large dense cymes in midsummer. The small, ovoid seed capsule contains round black seed. The crushed flowers ooze a red, blood-like pigment containing hypericin.

    Culture
    The wonderful thing about this herb is that it's also very easy to grow.

    • Seed Spasing              Push the seeds just below the surface at a depth not over two millimeters.
    • Seed Germination      8 to 14 days. Speed germination by soaking the seeds in warm water for 20 minutes.
    • Plant Spacing             About 18 inches apart.
    • Soil Requirements     This plant prefers well-drained sandy or clay soils.  
    • Sun & Lighting           Likes a sunny spot, but will tolerate some shade.
    • Water Requirements   Water the herbs twice a week
    Uses

         Depression image linkSt. John's Wort is one of the most popular herbs in North America and Europe. Although it's known primarily as a herbal antidepressant for mild to moderate depression, it has a long history of use as an antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, for nerve injury and pain, and as a topical treatment to promote wound healing. Recent preliminary studies have found that St. John's Wort may also decrease alcohol intake.
         St. John's Wort has been used to treat a variety of conditions. Taken internally, St. Johns Wort has a sedative and pain reducing effect, which gives it a place in the treatment of neuralgia, anxiety, tension and similar problems. It is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrositis, sciatica and rheumatic pain.
         Externally it is a valuable healing and anti-inflammatory remedy. As a lotion it will speed the healing of wounds and bruises, varicose veins and mild burns. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn.
    The calming properties of St. John's Wort herb have been useful in treating bedwetting, insomnia, and other nervous conditions, as well as some form of melancholy. An oil extract of the herb can be taken for stomach ache, colic, intestinal problems, and as an expectorant for the congestion in the lungs.

    A herbal tea made from the flowers is good for anaemia, headache, insomnia, jaundice, chest congestion, and catarrh. A tea made from the herb has been used for uterine cramping and menstrual difficulties. The oil extract also make a good external application for burns, wounds, sores, bruises, and other skin problems.

    It is believed that burning the plant in bonfires would drive away evil spirits, purify the air and promote healthy crop growth.


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