Colorful herbs on a hillside (Photo by Jane Gates)
Make natural, one-of-a-kind crafts
Whether for home use or gifts, items made by hand are treasures that are no longer easily found. Crafting with home-grown herbs will allow you to fabricate healthy, safe an beautiful items with each one being totally unique. You can even dye your materials â€“ yarns, clay, strings, straw, fabrics, wax etc. with home-grown dyes. The herb garden-growing craft person, you can grow a whole selection of herbs for dyes, candles and soaps. Colors rendered for dyes are not always what you might expect. Here are a few examples: use sorrel for pink, foxglove or rosemary for green, elder, indigo or woad for blue, dandelion, beet or amaranth for red, sage for yellow, geranium for purple, sunflower for orange, henna for a golden brown and fennel for a deeper brown.
You can also grow materials in your herb garden like wheat, oat, flax, speltz and other straw-producing plants for weaving baskets and hats. And use dried leaves, stems and seed pods for dÃ©cor for interior or exterior home design or for wearables.
Sustainable landscape design
Since water shortages are beginning to impact lifestyles in cities all over the world, you might want to consider replacing some of those more water hungry planters, or better yet, those water-guzzling lawns, with an herb garden. Many herbs are drought-tolerant. And as the demand has grown for eco-friendly plants, more and more cultivars are being developed that offer ever more decorative versions of drought-tolerant herbs. You can grow a whole garden of sages, rosemaries, or thymes. Thyme is ideal to scatter between stepping stones or to use as an edging. If you live in a wooded area there are many woodland herbs that will help fill a natural sustainable garden while reducing maintenance and offering herbal scents, medicinal treatments or tasty flavorings for the kitchen.
Pest control with herbs
Some herbs will help keep pests away from your garden. Echinacea works as a pesticide, Gopher Purge (Euphorbia lathyris) is disliked by gophers, and hot chili peppers and garlic make effective insecticidal sprays.
Building materials from herbal plants
Herbs have been used for all kinds of construction from bamboo wood to basket weaving with grasses. Herbs are smoked directly, used to freshen air, given spiritual values and used for many cerimonies, and made into tissanes and teas.
Herbs are used for healing purposes externally as poltices or skin applications or taken internally for relief and healing. Many of our current drugs are derrived from natural herbs. Herbs have been used to comfort and heal the ill since prehistorical times.
Scents are one of the major gifts offered by herbs. Historically, herbs were strewn to sweeten unpleasant indoor odors. They add interest to the garden when they release essential oils after being brushed when someone passes by. Some will scent the air indoors when burnt or add a healing ambience when dried in a potpourris. Herbs can release their smells when set into candles or even pressed into pulp for paper-making.
And of course, herbs add excitement and variety to foods whether fresh or cooked. Growing exotic herbs and spices can help create flavors of dishes from other cultures. Fresh herbs can be used as garnishes and make serving food exciting for the eye as well as the palet. And using herbs can make the same ordinary foods taste completely different depending on the recipe.
In short, there are many practical uses that make herb gardening a perfect way to get double-duty from your plants. These are just some of the best reasons to grow herbs in the garden.