Fresh herbs can be for more than just cooking.
If you’re anything like me, you love the look and smell of fresh herbs, but aren’t necessarily that crazy about cooking with them. Fresh herbs can add a great boost to some dishes, especially those where the herbs go in at the end of cooking, like on a pasta dish, or where the herbs aren’t cooked at all, such as sprinkling on a lovely summer salad or, even better, adding to a fresh batch of salsa made with tomatoes just picked off the vine. But, for most cooking, I find that dried herbs are not only stronger, they tend to hold their flavors better when heated over time.
Still, I love fresh herbs. Not only are they beautiful, they smell heavenly, and are much better for the atmosphere of your home than any artificial air freshener could ever be. So, here is a list of some of the most aromatic, not to mention the most common and easy-to-find, so you can get going on your own indoor herb garden, even if you do not care to use your crops for cooking.
- Rosemary: My personal favorite, rosemary has needle-like leaves and its smell (and, really, taste) is similar to that of a pine tree. As it grows, it makes a beautiful hanging plant and, when it is larger, an impressive floor plant.
- Lavender: Delicate, floral scent. If there is enough sunlight in your bedroom during the day to keep it going, this is a lovely one for that area. Its gentle aroma is really relaxing, and will help relieve the stress of your day and lull you to sleep in no time.
- Mint: This easy-to-grow herb (it will often just take over when planted in flower beds outside) is great for rooms where you would like the energy to be high—a family room, for instance, or a home office. Also, if you are a lover of iced tea, a sprig of this in a pitcher of brewed tea makes for a yummy infusion. Just crush the sprig, add it to the pitcher, and it will give your usual glass of tea a lift—and you, too!
- Jasmine: A delicate scent that adds a pleasant, gentle background to any room, but tends to be especially nice for areas of your home where you entertain, maybe a dining room or living room.
- Basil: Spicy basil is another herb I think is good for high-energy living spaces. It has a peppery scent that is easily identifiable, and taking a little nibble right off the plant for a boost is not unheard of!
- Geranium: This herb is not necessarily the herb you want for sweet or gentle-smelling purposes, but it IS great for keeping the bugs away! It is well-known as a mosquito repellant, but this year I have discovered that having a couple around has kept those pesky fruit flies/gnats we have every summer away. Give it a try in your own kitchen!
Indoor herb gardens are a wonderful, rewarding project, whatever your reason for getting them going. The biggest challenge of growing them in various rooms is probably the sunlight factor—not all of your rooms will have enough streaming sun for these light-demanding plants—but the rewards are well-worth a try.
Image: Wikimedia Commons