Herbs are the gift of nature to people and many of them can be used as alternatives to health problems. Although one of the main uses of many plants and herbs is its medical use, as they provide us with very interesting medicinal virtues, they can also be used while enjoying a more natural and healthy cuisine.
The followed aromatic herbs are also called cooking herbs, because in addition to the properties and benefits provide different flavours and aromas to the dishes and recipes they are added.
Find below which plants to choose for your own herb garden and to enjoy fresh or dried aromatic plants all seasons of the year.
Kitchen: The main ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine is basil, one of the most popular and favourite aromatic plants that we use in various recipes from fresh salads, pasta and pizzas to various soups, marinades and pesto sauces.
Medical properties: Fights the irritation of the nervous system, improves memory and concentration and cures allergies. It stands out for its digestive effect. Basil has health benefits of antioxidants and is a defence against low blood sugar.
Planting: This is probably the most popular herb in the garden especially for first-time gardeners. It’s easy to grow and difficult to kill. We plant the basil in semi-shady places sheltered from strong winds to have good growth and rich green foliage. Especially during the winter, basil needs protection from frost, snow, and northerly winds. Basil thrives in bright places; however it is sensitive to long hours of direct sun exposure. The strong sun rays of summer can cause burns on the basil leaves. If we plant the basil in a pot on our balcony, we prefer a place with west or east exposure.
Kitchen: Oregano is the most famous herb in Mediterranean cuisine, and is used in soups, pastas, pizzas, meats, fish, and salads.
Medical properties: Helps with fevers, colds, improves digestion and is highly antiseptic.
Planting: Oregano is part of the mint family and is native to the warm climates of Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Oregano is a perennial plant but in colder climates can be grown as an annual. It loves sunny and warm places although it can withstand partial shade. It needs moderate to little watering depending on the time of year and the prevailing temperatures. Oregano grows successfully in almost all soils, even shallow or stony. It is a plant resistant to drought and eroded soils. Its cultivation is very easy and apart from a light pruning, in case we want to maintain its shape, it does not need any care. A favourite and characteristic plant of the Mediterranean, it is widely cultivated, mainly for its use in cooking, where it is used fresh or dried as a main ingredient in many local dishes but also for its medicinal value, in various other forms such as essential oils. It is suitable for ground cover, herb gardens, country gardens and Mediterranean style houses.
Kitchen: It’s used as a garnish on dishes as well as an addition to sauces. It can also be used for pesto in place of basil.
Medical properties: Parsley is a good source of Vitamins A and C. Helps cleanse and purify the blood and the digestive and urinary system.
Planting: Parsley is often grown as an annual, but in milder climates, it will stay evergreen all winter long. It prefers rich soils in organic matter. It can be planted in the sun but also in partial shade.
Parsley is a biennial plant. Although we are used to finding it easily in the markets, you should know that it is an herb that requires patience. From the time you plant the seeds, it will take 3 to 4 weeks for them to start sprouting. It will take another 2 to 3 months before you can taste your parsley. You should keep the soil in the pot moist but not wet. Make sure that the drain holes in the pot are not clogged. If it is still cold when you plant the parsley seeds, you should move the pots inside the house and place them next to the window. For best results, the pot should be placed in a place facing the sun, although it can be grown in places where the sun is visible for a few hours a day.
Kitchen: Dill has a rather delicate aroma and a slightly spicy taste. It is ideal to add to dishes with potatoes, fish (such as salmon), soups and peas.
Medical properties: It is useful against fluid retention and digestive problems. It is very popular for healing wounds, burns and for promoting sleep. It also helps to fight bad breath and has the added benefits of reducing swelling and cramps.
Planting: It is an annual plant and reaches a height of 30 to 80 cm. Plant the seeds in spring (April to May) at a depth of half to one centimetre. Dill prefers a deep pot because its root is far away. It needs frequent watering. Collect the dill by cutting with scissors to a height of 2 cm from the soil. It will also attract helpful insects to your garden such as wasps and other predatory insects. It thrives in sunny places.
Kitchen: Use fresh or dried rosemary in recipes with meat, poultry, fish, seafood, soups, vegetables, sauces and breads.
Medical properties: Rosemary has antiseptic properties. Helps with asthma and respiratory problems, as well as relieves headaches and indigestion. Stimulates the nervous and circulatory system, fights depression, and enhances memory.
Planting: Rosemary is a rich evergreen shrub that is a key component of the Mediterranean landscape. Attractive, with dark green, intensely fragrant leaves and bouquets of thousands of blue-purple flowers that last almost all year round, it deserves a place in any garden or balcony. Choose a sunny or semi-shady place to place the potted rosemary. It is worth noting that rosemary is quite durable, compared to other aromatic plants at low temperatures and in the cold of winter. It withstands drought well and needs well-drained soil. A few watering and fertilization 2-3 times a year are enough for this plant. As a plant it does not require special care nor is it endangered by important enemies and diseases. A simple pruning to control its shape or size can easily be combined with harvesting leaves to dry, minimizing the work that needs to be done. It is suitable for flower beds, borders, fences, planters and balconies or even as a ground cover. It can be allowed to grow freely or cut in a certain shape and is used in urban or country gardens, rock gardens, pebble gardens and island landscapes.
Kitchen: It has an intense and spicy taste.
Medical properties: Sage lowers cholesterol, boosts memory and soothes skin irritations and inflammation. It also helps women in menopause by reducing hot flashes. Caution: Sage is not suitable for pregnant and lactating women. Patients with diabetes should use it with caution as it lowers blood sugar levels.
Planting: The ancient Greeks believed that sage could defeat death or contribute to longevity. Sage is a perennial plant that grows well in pots and reaches a height of 0.3 to 0.6 meters. It is planted in a sunny position and grows slowly. No need for regular watering. It loves soils that are relatively dry. It is a plant that requires patience. You can sow sage seeds in spring or autumn and you will be able to harvest next summer, after 1.5 years.
Kitchen: It is used in soups, stews, grills, sauces, salads, pies and breads.
Medical properties: Thyme, in Ancient Greece was a source of courage and was used as incense or as an extract in the bath. Put it under the pillow, in sachets, for a better and calmer sleep. Thyme is one of the few herbs that contain the entire flavour when dried. Thyme oil is an effective mouthwash and has antiseptic action. As a tea it helps treat coughs and bronchitis.
Planting: Thyme is a low aromatic shrub with creeping, but also branched growth that reaches a height of 40 cm. Thyme thrives in both hot and cold areas, as it is resistant to high and low temperatures. Choose sunny places for planting thyme, although it can also be grown in semi-shady places.
The aromatic plants are beautiful and fragrant; while at the same time have a multitude of useful healing properties as well as they are used daily in cooking.
We plant aromatic plants at home to use in our kitchen when we need them. Aromatic herbs in pots are very practical, as we can have a large number of plants and flavours without taking up much space. And if we want to dry the aromatic plants to keep them longer and use them in our kitchen all year round, we can do it by keeping them in a shady place, without humidity, with very good ventilation.
Aromatic herbs plants are probably the most useful garden plants and the most convenient. They only need a small and useless place to grow, where the sun can see it. They have no other requirements than a little water and offer, along with their beauty, their aroma, both in the kitchen and in so many other places in the house.
You can also grow them in the garden, in flower beds or on the borders, along with other seasonal plants or perennial shrubs. So choose your space from the aromatic plants, the ones you use often.
Whether you want to grow a kitchen herb garden as a hobby or to use for healthier eating, there are plenty of herbs you can grow in your balcony, on your patio or even in your windowsill.