Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a wonderful way to ensure you and your family eat seasonal, fresh food. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there is an abundance of foods you can grow inside your home or in your yard. Because I know many people live in all sizes of homes, I wanted to focus on traditionally smaller plants that just about anyone can grow indoors or out.
Growing Your Own Herbs
Herbs both fresh and dried as well as the essential oils made from herbs can provide an impressive list of health benefits. You can use herbs to battle inflammation, assist in gut health, and boost your mood - to name just a few ways they can enhance your health.
Here are a few delicious herbs you can grow here in the Pacific Northwest, along with some of the many health advantages they can provide:
This oniony herb is hardy, delicious, and flowers beautifully. It is also very nutrient-dense, meaning these little herbs pack a big nutritional punch. You can find plenty of Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and choline in chives.
Because chives are an allium like garlic, scallions, and onions, they provide the same anti-inflammatory benefits as others plants in the allium family. Studies have shown that alliums like chives have been linked to lower cancer risk as well, so that’s just another reason to risk onion breath.
Other health benefits from chives include:
Improved bone strength
Better sleep, brain health, and improved mood
Boosted immune system
Slows cataract development
Lower cholesterol and arterial plaque levels
Chives are easy to grow indoors and out. They need 6-8 hours of full sunlight and should be grown in a pot that drains well. As long as you have that pot that drains easily, your chives can be watered often - the soil needs to be damp, but not wet.
There are many, many types of basil that can be eaten and enjoyed, though you most commonly see the classic Italian basil in the grocery store. However, if you plan to grow basil, why not have some fun with it and experiment with several different types of basil? Here are just a few varieties that you can grow at home:
Thai Sweet Basil
Basil is in the mint family and is a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, choline, iron, phosphorus, and manganese. This antioxidant and mineral-rich herb has many health benefits including:
Stimulating depression-fighting hormones
Boosting the immune system
Benefiting digestive health
Reducing blood glucose levels
Studies have shown that holy basil specifically may help prevent certain cancers.
Basil is easy to grow indoors and outside throughout the summer. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight a day with well-drained soil. It’s important to keep the soil moist without over watering because basil is not tolerant of water stress.
One fantastic thing about growing basil is that, if you prune it correctly, it’ll keep producing all summer long. The best way to prune your basil is to pinch or cut your basil at the base of two leaves. Over time this will help your basil become bushier rather than leggy.
Thyme is considered a shrub, but it is still small enough that you can grow it in a pot indoors. As with many herbs, there are several different varieties of thyme including lemon thyme, wild thyme, and Pennsylvania Dutch tea thyme. You can stick with common thyme or get all sorts of culinary thymes for your garden - depending on how much space you have to play with.
Many forms of thyme are in use today, from fresh or dried herbs to teas to essential oils. It is a very common herb that has been used for centuries to treat all sorts of health issues. It was even used in the 1300s to protect against the black plague. While it certainly didn’t cure that ailment, thyme contains many vital nutrients including vitamins A, C, and B6, folate, iron, copper, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
All of this nutritional goodness provides many health benefits including:
Improved immunity, specifically in fighting bacterial infections and particular fevers and viruses like West Nile and encephalitis
Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Helps fight thrush
Soothes eczema and acne
Eases sore throats, coughs, and bronchitis
Another exciting thing about thyme is that it can work as a natural food preservative. So, adding thyme or thyme oil to food before putting the food in the fridge can help prevent foodborne bacteria from hitting your plate.
Thyme is easy to grow both indoors and out in the Pacific Northwest. Like basil, thyme needs at least 6 hours of sunlight in which to thrive and you will want a pot with good drainage as thyme isn’t tolerant of soggy soil. Unlike basil, it overwinters, so you can essentially chop it down in the fall and it will grow back in the spring.
There are many other delicious and healthy culinary herbs that grow well in the Pacific Northwest including parsley, rosemary, lavender, sage, mint, and oregano. Find out more about how common household herbs, as well as herbal remedies specifically tailored to your health, can benefit you. Contact AOM Health today to discuss our nutrition services.