There are a lot of herbs out there these days and if you're new to growing them it can be a little difficult to decide which ones might be the best to grow for you. A lot of people think that it's too hard, too time consuming to care for the herbs, or that they don't live in the right climate. Well I can tell you this, no matter where you live or how much, time or experience you have there's an herb for you. I've found that growing these 5 herbs is easier than most people would think at first, and I'm going to share my experience about these with you.
Basil is a great herb to start growing for several reasons. I personally love this one because it can be grown just about everywhere. I've found that it does really well inside or out, but if you live in a colder climate I suggest that you bring it indoors and place it in a window with plenty of sunlight and it'll do just fine. If you're using containers I recommend using something around 4-6 inches in diameter. The basil plant likes to have room for its roots to expand although from a test I did they can stand being root bound for a couple of months, after that though their health will really start to diminish and they'll loose they're precious leaves. I tried cloning this herb as well and found that it did extremely well and I was able to clone three or four new plants from the original parent plant. What this means is you could essentially have an endless supply of fresh basil in your herb stash. Basil is a very common ingredient in Italian foods and having some fresh to through in a pasta dish will add a lot of flavor and freshness to your dish. This herb also has some maybe not so widely known medicinal traits as well and can be applied topically to cuts or insect bites to help speed up the healing process.
I put this herb in my top 5 because it can easily be grown with just about any experience level. I grew this plant in containers with other vegetables or herbs mostly and found that it grew very well indoors and out. Growing parsley in my opinion doesn't need a very large or deep container to grow with good results I would say anything at least 3 inches deep and 3 inches in diameter would do just fine. I'm not sure how well this one clones because I never tried and quiet honestly I didn't need to. It continued to grow back even after the second cutting, but the second and third cuttings didn't have as high of a yield as the first. Parsley is another great herb for cooking and can be added to many recipes to increase the freshness. It's also another herb where the medicinal properties are sometimes overlooked and can be used to urinary tract infections due to its diuretic, circulatory, and anti-inflammatory traits.
3. Aloe Vera
The Aloe plant has long been used for its medicinal properties to treat burns in fact a lot of commercial burn creams and gels will contain the gel from the plants leaves. I purchased my aloe plant from a nursery this summer and its still growing strong and its ending December now. I had some problems with mine when I first acquired it because it was mixed with all of the other plants at the nursery and was being over watered. This is one thing that your aloe plant will hate, over watering will cause a sort of leaf rot and the leaves will turn a blackish brown color and if not corrected will kill your plant. On the other hand this is a great plant for the gardener who doesn't have the time to water it. It can go probably a month with out any water although I try to keep mine watered about every two weeks or so. The main thing is to make sure the soil dries out before the next watering. Another thing to keep in mind is the herb prefers a sandier soil although I use a sand and dirt mixture of about 70% sand and 30% dirt. Cloning the aloe plant is fairly easy to because the parent plant does most of the work for you by producing so called pups (shoots that come off the parent plant). All you need to do is carefully dig these up cut them loose and replant them. As mentioned before this plant works great for treating minor burns as well as scrapes and cuts.
Here is another great culinary herb to add to your kitchen cabinet. I picked up two of these at a nursery and planted them in 2 separate containers that were about 5 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep and they did just fine. This is one of the few herbs that I didn't try to grow inside but I bet it wouldn't do too bad and would be interesting to try. One thing I noticed about this plant was its leaves have kind of a rough texture and are a pale green with a silver tint. Like I said this plant is great for cooking and can be added to many poultry and savory type dishes and works well. I never tried to clone my sage so I can't say for sure if it would work or not but I have read that it can do quite well cloning. Sage also has some medicinal properties like most of its fellow herbs. It has traits that allow it to ease sore throats as well as coughs and colds. A word of caution about this herb though it contains a chemicals known as thujones in its essential oils. Its safe in normal culinary uses but caution should be taken for higher does and alcohol extracts are not advised.
Stevia is an interesting herb and I had a lot of fun growing it. I grew my stevia plant on my balcony in the same kind of pot as the sage and it did really well I thought I cut it down before the first frost and I'm hoping it comes back next year because I liked it so much. I also was able to clone one plant from my parent plant and it grew quite well but I tried a few times before with no luck. I think the trick was getting it humid enough to start propagation but also have enough air flow to prevent mold from growing. I had my stevia inside for a short period of time and it didn't seem to hurt it all so I believe you could have some success doing this. One reason I liked it is that the leaves are sweet... extremely sweet! So you have to do some conversions when consuming it. About 1 cup of sugar equals a 1 1/2 -2 tablespoons of ground leaves. It can be a little tricky to bake with stevia because the consistency isn't quite the same as sugar. However it does work great for sweetening beverages like tea or lemonade. Probably one of the biggest things about stevia is that it contains no calories. This is great for people who are diabetic because they can substitute sugar for stevia and still have something sweet that tastes good.
So that's my list of 5 useful and easy to grow herbs. Herb gardening is a great skill for preppers to learn so I encourage you to try it out for yourself. Hopefully you're able to learn from this and put a new herb into your kitchen cabinet or use one in your herbal med kit. Hope this helps thanks for reading and check back soon for more gardening posts.