Herbal gardens are a wonderful source of beauty and production on the family homestead. Many fragrant and flavorful benefits can be found among the roots and shoots, petals and leaves. My family started their first herbal garden during a study of pioneer living. The classic wagon wheel and ladder layout were set off to the side of our home and filled with basic culinary and medicinal herbs. Today, the herbal garden encompasses the entire front of our home filling a large garden plot with flavor, focus, nourishment and beauty.
When it comes starting an herbal garden the first one I would suggest is mint. Efficient, economical and down right easy to grow, mints are fail proof and completely useful. One tiny start will spread and expand into a large and lovely bush full of fragrance. Placed at the start of my herbal bed, the deep green leaves lend their refreshing aroma encouraging fingers to softly brush over them. Many a dear friend has left our home with a fresh bouquet to use and start for their own.
Bushy and bountiful, the uses for this hearty herb seem endless. Placed in water, gently bruising the leaves releases their essence giving abundant flavor. I add leaves to salads, smoothies and vinaigrette for a wonderful flavor boost. Run through a processor with a measure of sugar, mint shares its refreshing taste in baked goods and beverages. In vinegar the leaves become a base for cleaning solutions..steeped in witch hazel, mint makes for a cooling facial toner or antiseptic cleanser.
In our herbal garden several varieties of mint are taking root and growing wild; chocolate mint, orange mint, apple mint, spearmint even a new strawberry mint. Each one holding the strong invigorating mint properties with subtle hinds of fruity zest. The apple mint, with it's fruity peppermint scent, is absolutely wonderful when added to fruits and teas.
As a migraine sufferer, mint is vital to my daily medicine chest. Not only is this herb a source of vitamin A, C and B12, it stimulates the mood and senses increasing blood flow and relieving tension while supplying the body with essential minerals..manganese, copper, iron, potassium, and calcium. If grown indoors, or simply placed in bouquets in the home, mint freshens and cleanses the air.
Cooling Mint "Tea"
one handful mint, stalks and leaves
handful of stevia leaves, optional
one quart water
Rinse the herbs gently. Place the water and herbs in a large bowl. Using you hands crush, tear and bruise the leaves; the water will start to color a green hue. Give it a taste- for more mint taste crush the leave more, for less add water. When finished, strain the 'tea' and enjoy.
This can be added to any beverage for a minty flavor: lemonade, green tea, fruit teas.
Mint is one of the most harvested herbs here in our garden. Daily infusions of mint 'tea' are consumed with a hint of honey. This delightful drink cools and refreshes..especially after a morning of garden chores!