Herb Garden Series – Mint

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Some say that mint is a weed, and in my experience, it certainly grows like one! I wouldn’t be without it in my herb garden.

I have to tame my garden mint more than once a year, as it spreads across the flower bed that it grows next to. In the past, I’ve had mint planted in a pot and planted in the garden to keep it from taking over.

Mint has many medicinal offerings, with the most popular being a digestive aid. Drinking mint tea or eating a peppermint often settles an upset or bloated stomach and eases IBS symptoms and heartburn. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus, relieves congestion and headaches, cleanses your palate, relieves bad breath, and is calming. The essential oil from mint – menthol – is found in non-consumable products like chest rubs, lipstick, shampoo and body lotion.

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Herb Garden Series – Thyme

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Thyme’s tiny leaves certainly don’t lack in flavour. I have many types of thyme in my backyard: traditional and lemon in my herb garden, and a layer of ornamental thyme between the patio stones. They have beautiful purple flowers in early summer and serve as a lush ground cover.

I was surprised to see that my thyme grew back this year after leaving it to die last fall. It’s a perennial herb, but mine never survived more than a year as my sage has.

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Herb Garden Series – Basil

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One of my favourite herbs is basil. Have you ever had buffalo mozzarella, ripe and juicy cherry tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar piled on a cracker or piled on your fork? They’re gorgeous summer flavours that work any time of year. I wouldn’t suggest attempting to eat such a tower on a first date, but maybe a second!

Basil turns up in most Italian dishes like pesto, tomato sauce and as a pizza topping, but that’s only one type of basil: Italian large leaf. I was surprised to learn that there are more than 40 cultivars of this aromatic plant, each with its own unique taste and tang. Thai and holy basil are typically used in Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine, but I add any of them to whatever I’m cooking.

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Herb Garden Series – Sage

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The smell of sage brings back memories of my mother liberally sprinkling the dry powdered herb into the Christmas stuffing for the big bird. I found it overpowering and almost dry tasting, so I wasn’t a huge fan of it until I started cooking with fresh sage leaves from my garden.

Sage’s soft, peach-like skin caught my daughters’ attention and they eat it right from the garden.  Our sage bush–as I call it now, has grown to a plant that lives next to the gladioli in my flower garden, and has survived well over the years without much attention.

I’ve also used bunches of dried sage smoke called “Smudge” to clear heavy and negative energy. It may be hocus-pocus to some, but when moving house or having a few things go wrong in the family, I tried it out. Surprisingly it seemed to help.

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