The importance of the herb garden as a refuge for nature's spice and healing powers has been a tradition in the Mediterranean since ancient times. In the Middle Ages, especially in the monastery gardens, the knowledge of cultivation and use of these plants in the art of healing arrived. Later, parsley, marigold, oregano and Co. also entered the bourgeois gardens via the cottage gardens. Herbal use for herbal purposes in the 18th and 19th centuries, at the time of Samuel Hahnemann and Sebastian Kneipp, had their heyday.
Today's meaning of herb gardens
In today's gardens, the herb spikes are often very small and poor in species, many people know as herbs only little more than parsley and chives. However, with the progress of scientific research and the demonstration of active substances from the green pharmacy against many diseases, the knowledge of the cultivation and mode of action of these plants has experienced a renaissance.
Herbs in your own garden
Many hobby gardeners do not even know how many common medicinal herbs grow in their own garden: stinging nettle, comfrey, St. John's wort, ribwort, dandelion, valerian, mullein, marigold, hops, corn, coltsfoot, mallow and chamomile are just a small selection. In addition, all spice herbs are also considered medicinal herbs, because most of them have in addition to the spicy and medicinal properties. It is said that a good cook is also a good doctor.
Herbs from sunny countries
Most of these aromatic herbs come from the Mediterranean and the Middle East and therefore need a sunny spot in the garden. These are, for example, sage, thyme, chives, lavender, parsley, aniseed, fennel, oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, borage, dill, coriander, bay leaf, cress, garlic, hyssop, rocket, rue, boar, melissa, Lovage, bean and mountain bean herb and tarragon.
Sparsely small on the other hand, the account of the spice herbs from native climes falls out: Celery, caraway, spoon herb, peppermint, mugwort, watercress, sorrel and pimpinel have always been spread here in the north.
Perhaps you would like to set up a pharmacy garden, which you can arrange for example by topics: "cold herbs" such as thyme, sage, coltsfoot, ribwort, mallow, violet and mullein can there in addition to "nerve-calming herbs" such as lemon balm, lavender, St. John's wort, valerian and Hops and "stomach herbs" such as wormwood, peppermint, marjoram, hyssop and chamomile are available.
Herbal ingredients in herbs
The variety of active ingredients of our herbs and spices is varied: minerals, essential oils, bitter substances, vitamins, tannins and mucilages, glycosides, alkaloids, flavones, saponins and silicic acid make a cocktail that is rich in the nowadays prized phytochemicals.
They can be anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory, nerve-calming, appetite-stimulating, detoxifying, antispasmodic, water-repellent, cardiovascular stabilizing, stomach and intestinal strengthening, purifying and antibacterial. Depending on the combinations and concentrations in which they interact through the respective herb. We can enjoy our herbs as tea, infusion and envelope, as a bath additive, in ointments or fresh as a spice or salad plant in the kitchen.
The green pharmacy in our garden can provide us with many things, but even experienced herb gardeners may use only those medicinal herbs that contain no poisons. Important medicinal plants such as foxglove and lilies are therefore only in the hands of the doctor.
But parsley, woodruff, basil, tarragon and anise are also needed to limit consumption to a minimum. In parsley, the parsley camphor Apiol, which is found in all parts of the plant and especially in the seed, is toxic in large quantities. The same applies to the woodruff. The coumarin contained in it is slightly debilitating in large quantities and causes nausea. This substance is also present in basil and tarragon.
In addition, these two herbs should not be used for medicinal purposes in larger quantities and / or over a longer period of time, because they contain the drug estragol, which showed a possible carcinogenic (carcinogenic) effect in animal studies. Also, anise is said to have a similar carcinogenic effect in larger quantities.
Storage and treatment of herbs
It stores medicinal and aromatic herbs for quick use within one to two days, washed in plastic bags in a dark, cool place (for example, in the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator). Many herbs can also be finely chopped with olive oil, crème fraîche, quark or yoghurt and used for up to a week as a sauce base for salads and vegetables. Winter storage should be best done in dried or frozen form.
Harvest of herbs
The most favorable harvest time of the medicinal and aromatic plants is shortly before beginning of flowering until shortly after the blossoming of the plants. At this time they have the highest content of fragrances and active ingredients. Therefore, here is the main harvest time for the winter stock. Roots and rhizomes are harvested in the fall when the active ingredients have migrated to the subterranean part of the plant.
It is best to pick the parts of the plant on a sunny morning, when the dew on the leaves is already dried. At noon, it is very unfavorable, since leaves and flowers have evaporated by then a lot of moisture and are dull from the heat. The most intense effect unfolds with the fresh herb itself or with fresh tea infusion.
Herbal Recipes: Salad
In addition to the consumption of fresh leaves and flowers of many herbs can be tasty and, above all, very decorative in salads. Recommended are the flowers of pineapple sage, borage, nasturtium and daisies. The salad itself can also be prepared from herbs such as rocket, sorrel, chervil and fennel. Seasoned with tarragon, coriander, basil, lemon balm and chives, the sauce is made from garlic oil and some balsamic vinegar or lemon.
Green sauce with seven herbs
Something special is the so-called "green sauce": A marinade of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic is stirred and mixed with plenty of finely chopped, fresh herbs. These include parsley, borage, chives, dill, chervil, sorrel and pimpinell, as well as purslane, lemon balm, tarragon, hyssop and nasturtium.
These are each filled with a cup of sour and sweet cream. Finally, hard boiled, chopped eggs can be mixed under it. Green sauce tastes best with fresh jacket potatoes.
Sachets of herbs
There are many other ways to use herbs for your physical well-being. These include the numerous fragrances of the flowers, which can be used as a dream pillow in a dried state - sewn into small fabric pillows. In this way different effects can be achieved:
- Anise, peppermint, lemon balm, thyme and rosemary can be sleep-inducing and soothing.
- In bronchial catarrh and asthmatic complaints unfold this sachets a soothing, relaxing effect.
- Small herb bunches of lavender or boar eye are effective against moths.
- Basil, tansy, wormwood and boar should ward off flies and mosquitoes with their scent.
Homemade herbal oils
Something very precious are the herbal oils. Here, the herbs are filled after thorough cleaning in clean, transparent bottles and doused with cold-pressed olive oil. This is allowed to stand for a few weeks in the sun, shakes the herbs regularly and finally filters off. The finished medicinal or spice oil must then be kept dark.
The same can be done with vinegar or alcohol. Very pleasant and soothing is an oil bath with the preserved in this way scent of lavender flowers. The precious red St. John's wort oil, when applied externally, works excellently against sunburn or other burns.
Ointments from the own herb garden
From hot, pure lard can be produced also wonderful ointments. Three tablespoons of fat with three to four tablespoons of plant parts are boiled up very slowly and allowed to stand for ten minutes. Before the fat gets solid, the residues are filtered off. After cooling, the ointment - stored cool - lasts for a whole year.
Marigold ointment helps to heal small skin wounds, inflammations and ulcers quickly, and ointment also helps with bruising and bruising.
Tea from herbs
For tea, use the fresh or dried leaves of herbs. The "infusion" is the most common way to enjoy medicinal herbs. Let the leaves, boiled with boiling water (one teaspoon per cup), cover for ten to fifteen minutes. The tea is then drunk in small sips, so it can work well. If necessary, you can also make warm envelopes from this extract for external use.