Mint is a tenacious plant that once established will quickly spread its roots the length of your garden and beyond. For this simple reason it tends to get a bad name and people shy away from it but mint actually has numerous health benefits as well.
Fresh mint is high in vitamin A, B12 and C. It also contains copper, iron and zinc to name just a few essential minerals found in this aromatic plant. This rich herb is known to help calm irritable bowels and heartburn. It also helps with bad breath, which is probably obvious, and is known for its ability to combat the growth of fungus.
Mint comes in a number of flavors. The borders of our vegetable and herb gardens are surrounded by chocolate mint but you can also purchase plants that range from pineapple to peppermint. As mentioned earlier mint is extremely aggressive and thus very easy to grow. Whether full sun or a forgotten crack in a walk-way mint will take advantage of the opportunity and thrive. It is a really great plant to grow if you have children. Since it does take off so rapidly kids feel an immediate sense of accomplishment and my kids love to graze on the flavorful leaves from early spring to late fall. Later in the year when it flowers the bees will show their gratitude as well.
Fresh from the garden it can be used in tea or even main dishes such as rice or lamb. It dries easily and stores rather well even if that means simply tying a few sprigs together and hanging them from the herb rack.
Another benefit of mint is that fleas supposedly can not stand the stuff. We began growing it around our dogs kennel after finding this out a year or two ago and it seems to have cut down on the problem.
Oregano is listed as a perennial in warm climates and an annual in areas that experience heavy winters. Our gardens are located in southern New York State and it is a perennial in our plot, so it is safe to say it is reasonably hardy.
Oregano , or wild marjoram as it is sometimes called, is an extremely healthy addition to your cuisine. Believe it or not one fresh gram of this herb has four times the antioxidant activity of blueberries, twelve times that of oranges and an astounding forty-two times the antioxidant activity of apples. It has a very high level of vitamin K and is also an above average source of iron, fiber and calcium.
One of the advantages of growing your kitchen garden close to your back door is that it makes it easy to gather fresh herbs and veggies for your meals. Oregano can be served and stored a number of ways but it goes without saying that fresh from the garden is the recommended method. You can also dry it or freeze as well. Both preservation methods allow one to use this medicinal herb deep into the winter months.
Chives have been used by man for at least 5,000 years. When researched a bit it is no wonder they have been such an established crop generation after generation when measured by their hardiness, their flavor and their health properties.
Chives are the smallest member of the onion family. They do well in sun or shade and propagate rather easily. Their purple flower heads scatter seed that quickly takes root. Once established it is a good idea to divide the plant every 3 or 4 years. Of course you can give some to family or friends but division also aids the garden in terms of pest control. Chives help keep certain pest such as the pesky Japanese beetle at bay. So consider digging up a small portion of the bulk herb and placing it in key locations in your garden. Of course the opposite holds true as well in that it attracts beneficial such as bees to your garden by way of their large flowers. Another interesting note in regards to its beneficial properties is its ability to protect your apple trees from apple scab disease simply by growing around the trees trunk.
Chives also happen to be similar to garlic in its health benefits, just not as potent. Chives are high in vitamin A & C and also contain calcium and iron. Iron is something a lot of folks lack in their diet.
You can eat chives fresh from the garden, dry them or freeze them, though drying tends to retain the least amount of flavor. They go well with soups and stews, potatoes and even salads. I recently had a great aunt mention that she prefers them to onions because they are gentler on her stomach, certainly something to keep in mind.