Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Is any herb better known for its scent than lavender? From lingerie drawer sachets and expensive soaps to lavender wands and just short of a million aromatherapy products, lavender is a scent most people find clean and refreshing.

There are at least 25 species of lavenders, not to mention many, many cultivars. As a rule, the plants are small (less than 3 feet), many-branched, woody shrubs with gray-green or silvery 2-inch leaves, narrow and lance-shaped.

Buy Premium quality Lavender seeds from our Gardening shop

In late spring to midsummer, lavenders produce lovely 6- to 8-inch spikes of tiny, two-lipped purple flowers.

 

How to grow

Lavenders require full sun and soil that has a neutral or slightly sweet pH, is rich with organic matter, and that drains in minutes. (Some growers believe that sandy, less fertile soil produces plants with more fragrance.) Buy plants rather than seeds, because you can’t count on species coming true, and seeds usually take forever to germinate. Other options are to start from cuttings or by layering.

Space plants 2 to 4 feet apart, depending on the species and how much pruning you want to do. Provide some shelter from wind to protect the flower stalks.

Buy Premium quality Lavender seeds from our Gardening shop

Unfortunately, very few lavenders can survive a winter colder than Zone 6. Lavenders also play myriad roles in an ornamental garden — edging walkways or borders, scattered among other perennials for contrast of form and foliage, or as residents in rock gardens. They’re classic companions to roses,

helping to hide thorny or bare stems, and send bees into a frenzy.

Buy Premium quality Lavender seeds from our Gardening shop

Cultivars and related plants

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), the most commonly grown species, is hardy in Zones 6 to 9 and offers numerous cultivars, including ‘Hidcote’, ‘Munstead’, and ‘Twickel Purple’, all with purple flowers and growing 18 to 24 inches tall. For pink, choose ‘Hidcote Pink’ or ‘Miss Katherine’; for white, select ‘Nana Alba’, a fine dwarf cultivar, only 10 inches tall. ‘Lady’ blooms in the first year when grown from seed.

Spike lavender (L. latifolia) is a more upright species that is hardy in Zones 7 to 9. L. dentata, or fringed lavender, has gray-green foliage and dark purple flowers; it’s hardy only in Zones 8 to 10.

Worth looking for and trying to grow indoors or outdoors in Zones 7 to 9 is French lavender (L. stoechas), which has extremely narrow leaves. The flowers are not only a vibrant rosy purple, but appear in tight little cylinders topped by a flag of pink petals. A variety, L. stoechas var. pedunculata, has even more dramatic, elongated blooms.

Buy Premium quality Lavender seeds from our Gardening shop

Lore and usage

A famous story about lavender involves Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French perfume chemist who discovered its healing properties in the 1920s when he burned his hand and plunged it into a vat of lavender oil. This successful move is credited with launching aromatherapy.

The Romans thought that the asp — that little Egyptian snake that snuggled up with Cleopatra — lived among lavender plants. But that didn’t keep people out of the lavender patch. After all, it was also believed to be an aphrodisiac, good for “the panting and passion of the heart.”

We think lavender tastes like perfume and has enough to do without masquerading as food. You can use lavender in virtually any cosmetic or cleaning agent that you want to scent, and of course, in potpourris, sachets, and sleep pillows.

Buy Premium quality Lavender seeds from our Gardening shop

Toss a few petals or leaves in the rinse water of your lingerie or sheets.

The Best Winter Herbs to Grow

The winter can be frustrating for some. There’s fewer hours of daylight, the weather can be bone-chillingly cold, and you find yourself rotating between squash, brussels sprouts, and bread. It can get dull and repetitive.

But just because it’s colder, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your herb garden. Growing fresh food should be a thing you can do 365 days a year.

 

So, here are some herbs that do a little better in chilly weather—the perfect winter herbs to grow and eat.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial herb, which means that it can be grown year-round, and sturdy enough to defend itself against icy temperatures. This herb will bloom throughout the year, and is one of the more affordable ones to grow and replace in the event that your plant kicks the bucket.

Rosemary pairs well with heartier meats like lamb and beef, and stands up to pungent flavors like garlic. On top of packing a punch in flavor, rosemary—particularly its oils—has been used to treat things like poor memory, migraines, digestive issues, and other such ailments.

Buy Quality herbs seeds from Gardening Shop Karachi online Shop

Parsley

Don’t underestimate the ubiquitous parsley plant; it’s more resilient than you might think. In harsher (cold) climates, parsley will hide underground to keep itself safe, but don’t worry—it’s still growing, however slowly. In milder winters, it will continue to bloom to provide a nice fresh kick to any dish.

A good tip is to grow lots and lots of parsley to counteract its slow growth over the winter. Because parsley self-seeds, it means that more plants will grow even if you stop planting new ones.

Buy Quality herbs seeds from Gardening Shop Karachi online Shop

Thyme

Like sage, thyme is also a great accompaniment to sage, as well as pork. These sturdy little shrubs will add brightness to your dishes few other herbs do thanks to its lemony tones. They will survive over the winter will little to no up-keep, though there will be very little growth as well.

Having said that, you should be careful not to cut all of your thyme shrub’s old growth, as that will prevent it from growing new leaves, taking away all of the plant’s reserves.

Thyme has also proven to serve medicinal purposes over history. Some studies suggest that the thyme oil can decrease inflammation and airway constriction caused by pulmonary diseases.

Mint

Buy Quality herbs seeds from Gardening Shop Karachi online Shop

Mint is a strong herb just like thyme. If you’ve ever grown mint, then you know that it’s imperative for it to be grown in a separate pot as it will take over the entire planter; those who plant their own herbs are never short of mint!

Think of mint like a weed. They grow wild, and they are hard to get rid of. Mint’s like that, except you want it to grow wild. Needless to say, this tough, resilient herb will continue to grow throughout the winter.

It’s a great herb to have around, as it is chockfull of vitamin C and iron. Mint has also proven to reduce digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.

Winter savory

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Winter savory has a similar flavor to thyme, but leaves more of a tang. It’s great in many comfort meals great for the winter, like beef stew.

Basil

Like parsley, basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world. While every country seems to have their own variety (e.g. Thai basil), is common in world cuisines—from Italy (it’s the primary ingredient in pesto sauce) to Thailand—and it can add a kick to many salads.

Rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium, it’s no wonder it’s so popular. It helps to reduce inflammation, and studies have shown that it may help with symptoms of arthritis. Basil also contains a lot of anti-oxidants and antibacterial properties, which can help with cardiovascular health and inhibition of the growth of bad bacteria, respectively.

While these herbs will grow throughout the winter, the growth will be minimal and it’s important to bear that in mind so that you don’t harvest too much, otherwise there will be absolutely no new growth.

In an Urban Cultivator, though, you can grow herbs 365 days a year and guarantee abundant growth. Using hydroponic technology, the herbs that you grow in the Cultivator units are fresh and flavorful, and take as little as one week.

Why Grow Herbs in garden?

Gardeners love kindred souls, and if you decide to grow herbs, you’ll be in the company of plenty of kindred souls, both in the present and from times past.

Even before recorded history, herbs were the sources of countless culinary, medicinal, and craft materials. Historically, growing herbs wasn’t a hobby; it was necessary for survival. Then, during the last half century or so, chemists began developing synthetic forms of aromas, flavors, medicines, and dyes that formerly had been extracted from herbs. (Notice how often artificial flavors and colors appear in the ingredients lists on packaged foods.) Because it was cheaper to make these imitations in a lab than it was to grow and extract the real thing, herb gardening fell out of favor to some degree. Now that the “better living through chemistry” heyday is over, there’s renewed interest in getting back to natural sources of the stuff we ingest and otherwise use in our daily lives. And herb gardening is experiencing a renaissance.

What Makes an Herb an Herb?

Before we talk about growing herbs, it’s only fitting to define the meaning of the word herb. (We pronounce it “erb” with a silent “h.” If you want to sound British, pronounce the “h,” as in the name Herb.) What, exactly, is an herb? Different resources define the word in different ways, depending upon their frame of reference.

A biologist might use the term herb as shorthand for herbaceous plant — a plant that forms a soft, tender stem rather than a woody stem. However, that definition leaves out many plants that are typically considered herbs, including rosemary, a charter member of the culinary herb hall of fame. And it includes plants like daffodils, which aren’t on anyone’s herb list.

Some ethnobotanists (people who study plants in the context of how they’re used by different social groups) might define herbs as “useful plants,” but hundreds of plants are useful, such as corn and oats, that few of us would call herbs. Others define herbs as “plants grown for medicinal qualities and for seasoning foods,” but that definition leaves out dye plants, plants used in rituals, and those used for making cosmetics, crafts, and more.
The Herb Society of America (HSA) follows the “big-tent” philosophy and defines herbs as plants valued for their “flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticide properties, and coloring materials.” If it’s good enough for the HSA, it’s good enough — and broad enough — for us. So if you’ve planted something that tastes or smells good (or bad), cures what ails you, or can be used in some way, feel free to call it an herb. You won’t get an argument from us.

5 Basil Varieties For Your Herb Garden

Basil is one of the most common herbs around, found in cuisine around the world. Recipes almost always call for fresh basil, since dried basil loses its flavor quickly. That means even amateur chefs will benefit from having some basil growing in their garden or on a sunny windowsill. But what type of basil should you grow? There are dozens of basil varieties available, with different flavors and uses. What you grow depends on the kinds of dishes you like to prepare. Here are five basil varieties that everyone can grow and enjoy.

Sweet BasilSweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum). This is the standard basil people think of for Italian foods, pesto, and more. It has wide, bright green, cup shaped leaves, and a green stem. It’s also sometimes known as Italian basil or Genovese basil (though some consider Genovese a separate variety, with a stronger flavor). Sweet Basil loses much of its flavor once cooked, so it’s usually used fresh in recipes. Lettuce Leaf Basil (O. basilicum ‘Crispum’) is similar in flavor, but its large leaves make it ideal for use in salads.

SEMrush

Thai BasilThai Basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora). Many other basil varieties are cultivars of sweet basil, including Thai basil. However, it’s been cultivated for centuries to create a very different flavor palate, one that’s reminiscent of anise or licorice. Thai basil, as its name suggests, is used more frequently in Asian dishes. It withstands heat better than sweet basil, so may be added before cooking. It’s also served fresh with soups like Vietnamese pho or in salads.

Cinnamon Basil (O. basilicum ‘Cinnamon’). Another cultivar of sweet basil, cinnamon basil has notes of – you guessed it – cinnamon. It’s commonly used in Indian and Asian cuisine, and goes well with fruits like citrus. It also works well in teas and baked goods.

Basil Varieties

Lemon BasilLime (O. americanum) or Lemon Basil (O. × africanum). Not all basil varieties come from sweet basil. Lime basil is a separate species (not native to the Americas despite the confusing botanical name), with a fresh citrus taste in addition to traditional basil flavor. Lemon Basil is a cultivar with similar citrus flavor. Some gardeners grow the two together and use them both in recipes.

Holy Basil (O. tenuiflorum syn. O. sanctum). Also known as tulasi or tulsi in its native India, holy basil has a wide array of uses around the world. In India itself, it’s most often used medicinally or in religious ceremonies (it’s a sacred plant in Hinduism), or brewed as a tea. Thai cuisine uses holy basil in recipes, usually cooked rather than fresh. Holy basil is often described as having a peppery taste and aroma, and can be bitter when raw.

SEMrush

Author:

Why Grow Herbs?

Gardeners love kindred souls, and if you decide to grow herbs, you’ll be in the company of plenty of kindred souls, both in the present and from times past. Even before recorded history, herbs were the sources of countless culinary, medicinal, and craft materials.

Historically, growing herbs wasn’t a hobby; it was necessary for survival. Then, during the last half century or so, chemists began developing synthetic forms of aromas, flavors, medicines, and dyes that formerly had been extracted from herbs. (Notice how often artificial flavors and colors appear in the ingredients lists on packaged foods.) Because it was cheaper to make these imitations in a lab than it was to grow and extract the real thing, herb gardening fell out of favor to some degree. Now that the “better living through chemistry” heyday is over, there’s renewed interest in getting back to natural sources of the stuff we ingest and otherwise use in our daily lives. And herb gardening is experiencing a renaissance. This chapter is a potpourri of herb information — our effort to introduce you to the subject, including some of its historical and entertaining aspects, and to inspire you to join the legions of herb gardeners, past, present, and future.

What Makes an Herb an Herb?

Before we talk about growing herbs, it’s only fitting to define the meaning of the word herb. (We pronounce it “erb” with a silent “h.” If you want to sound British, pronounce the “h,” as in the name Herb.) What, exactly, is an herb? Different resources define the word in different ways, depending upon their frame of reference.

A biologist might use the term herb as shorthand for herbaceous plant — a plant that forms a soft, tender stem rather than a woody stem. However, that definition leaves out many plants that are typically considered herbs, including rosemary, a charter member of the culinary herb hall of fame. And it includes plants like daffodils, which aren’t on anyone’s herb list. Some ethnobotanists (people who study plants in the context of how they’re used by different social groups) might define herbs as “useful plants,” but hundreds of plants are useful, such as corn and oats, that few of us would call herbs. Others define herbs as “plants grown for medicinal qualities and for seasoning foods,” but that definition leaves out dye plants, plants used in rituals, and those used for making cosmetics, crafts, and more. The Herb Society of America (HSA) follows the “big-tent” philosophy and defines herbs as plants valued for their “flavor, fragrance, medicinal and healthful qualities, economic and industrial uses, pesticide properties, and coloring materials.” If it’s good enough for the HSA, it’s good enough — and broad enough — for us. So if you’ve planted something that tastes or smells good (or bad), cures what ails you, or can be used in some way, feel free to call it an herb. You won’t get an argument from us. As for this book, we focus on some of the most common herbs that are popular for their flavor, their medicinal qualities, and other purposes. Most of their names will be familiar, even if you haven’t sown a single seed.

Seeing Why and Where to Grow Herbs

 If you garden at all, you’ve probably grown some herbs, even if you weren’t aware of it. If you have bee balm, lavender, roses, or sage in your ornamental beds, you’re growing herbs. Ditto if you tuck in some basil, fennel, or garlic among your edibles. But if you need more convincing to add herbs to your garden plant palette, here are a few reasons to give them a try:

Herbs are versatile. They’re pretty, smell nice, are useful, or all of the above.

Many herbs are easy to grow. Annual herbs like basil, cilantro, and nasturtium are among the most reliable plants, even for beginner gardeners.

They benefit other plants. Even if you don’t plan to harvest and use the herbs directly, you’ll enjoy the way some herbs repel pests and attract beneficial insects.

Herbs are great conversation starters. Once you know a bit of lore about the plants you’re growing, you can entertain garden visitors with their historical significance or fun factoids.

They’ll kick up the flavor of your culinary creations. Fresh rosemary, thyme, or tarragon can turn an everyday dish into a gourmet delight.

You’ll save money. If you’ve ever looked at herbs in the supermarket, you’ve probably noticed two things about them: They usually appear wilted or shriveled, and they’re very expensive. If you grow your own herbs, you’ll have access to the freshest herbs possible — clipped right before you need them — for a fraction of the price.

Herbs in your garden

 You don’t need a special herb garden to grow herbs. Most herbs are very companionable and happily share garden space with more flamboyant ornamentals or more familiar edibles. (A notable few, described in Chapter 2, are decidedly invasive and should be avoided or grown in a confined area.) For ideas on designing your herb garden.

Herbs in containers

Even if you don’t have a backyard garden, you can still grow herbs. Most herbs readily adapt to growing in containers, and some can even be grown on a sunny windowsill. And even if you have a big yard, you may want to grow some of your favorite culinary herbs in pots just steps away from the kitchen for easy harvesting.

Considering Culinary Herbs

Before the advent of refrigeration, herbs with antibacterial properties, including garlic, oregano, and thyme, were enlisted to help preserve foods that had to be stored for use during times of scarcity, such as in midwinter when fresh foods were hard to come by. These and other herbs and spices with strong flavors and aromas were also used to mask the tastes and smells of foods that were beginning to go rancid, making them more palatable. Now that we can control the temperature in our refrigerator with the turn of a dial, most of us enjoy herbs for the way they enhance the flavor and coloring of food and drink. Most recipes contain one or more ingredients purely for aesthetics — better taste, more attractive presentation. What would pickles be without dill, or pesto without basil? Purists use the word herb to refer to plants grown for their leaves and stems; spices are those cultivated for their flowers, seeds, bark, wood, resin, and roots. You also may come across the word potherb. That’s an old term that refers to vegetables and herbs used in salads, soups, and stews. For our purposes, spices are culinary herbs.

Upping your nutrition quota

 If aesthetics aren’t a good enough reason to grow herbs, consider the fact that many herbs are good for you, too. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a teaspoon of dill seed contains 32 milligrams of calcium; a teaspoon of ground basil contains 6 milligrams of magnesium. But when it comes to nutrients, the herbal champ is the chili pepper: One teaspoon of chili powder contains potassium, sodium, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacin, and vitamin A. (However, if you decide to substitute chili powder for your multivitamin, we recommend taking each teaspoon with a gallon of milk to offset the heat of the chili.) A few culinary herbs have recently made the news because of their antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are chemicals contained in plants that are thought to play a role in preventing some forms of cancer, as well as in helping to slow the aging process. In one study researchers tested the antioxidant levels of a variety of herbs and found the highest levels in oregano, sage, peppermint, and thyme. They concluded that herbs are an important source of dietary antioxidants, right up there with red wine and green tea.

Finding ways to cook with

herbs There’s nothing like freshly harvested rosemary tossed in with roasted potatoes or chopped basil topping a bowl of pasta. Scan any cookbook worth its salt, and you’ll find inspiring ways to incorporate herbs into your meals. If you have a particular herb in mind, flip to its entry in the appendix for tips on using it. When you start growing herbs, you’ll be inspired to try things you might never have considered. (We’ve all tasted mint-flavored ice cream, but how about making your own using bee balm or lavender?)

Adding flavor to oils, vinegars, dressings, and marinades

Browse supermarket shelves and you’ll find a growing array of herb-flavored oils and vinegars, usually at premium prices. The same goes for salad dressings and marinades. But there’s no need to break the bank to enjoy the flavors provided by these products. You can easily create homemade versions using fresh ingredients right from your garden. (And you can feel safe without the artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that give store-bought products an extended shelf life.)

Brewing herbal teas

Your choice in the tea section at the grocery store used to be simple: Lipton or Tetley? Now there are dozens, if not hundreds, of variations on the tea theme, some that are combined with traditional tea (Camellia sinensis) and others that are completely herbal: from hibiscus to blueberry to chai to acai, with many teas touted for their health-boosting properties as well as their taste. Certainly some of these teas contain exotic ingredients grown in some far-off land, but many are made from herbs you can easily grow yourself.

Exploring Medicinal Herbs

Plants and medicines have been partners as far back as history reaches, and the partnership continues today. In the last few decades, both echinacea and St. John’s wort have become popular herbal remedies, both readily found on supermarket and pharmacy shelves. More recently, supplements containing ginkgo, ginseng, goji berry, acai, goldenseal, and licorice root have invaded store shelves. Historically, different cultures have taken a variety of approaches to herbal remedies. Many Eastern cultures, for example, traditionally view illness as a sign of cosmic disharmony. Herbal cures are calculated to restore balance — to create peace between the opposing principles of yin and yang — rather than treat specific problems. The European herbal medicine tradition has been less holistic, and is usually focused on treating symptoms rather than preventing problems. The ancient Greeks, for example, viewed life in terms of four universal elements — earth, air, fire, and water — and the four bodily humors — sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic (hot, cold, moist, and dry, respectively). “Hot” and “dry” herbs were prescribed for “cold” and “moist” ailments, and vice versa. Astronomy, too, has played a role in herbal medicine, and old herbals are filled with references to herbs “owned by Venus” or “under the dominion of the moon.” People have prescribed herbs for every condition known to humankind: boils and burns, coughs and constipation, drunkenness and dog bites, fevers and fits, giddiness and gout, heartaches and hiccups, impotence and indigestion, nightmares and nerves, snoring and sneezing, and worms and wounds. Chapter 13 is the place to find information and recipes for herbal remedies you can make from your own homegrown herbs. You may be skeptical about the power of fennel to cure “every kind of poison in a man’s body” — the claim in one 13th-century herbal — but plants are unquestionably rich with substances that can ease, cure, and even prevent diseases.