By Anna Beauchemin | East Bay Herbals | Illustrations by Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Looking to spruce up your springtime planter boxes with some fresh herbs? These are my top five medicinal and culinary herbs for growing in the home garden. Each makes a lovely addition to the kitchen and adds a vibrant dose of herbalism to the home-based edible landscape.
A classic, easy-to-grow culinary herb, thyme (Thymus vulgaris) does well in containers and is my go-to plant for all things related to the respiratory system. I use it regularly during cold and flu season to brew a soothing lung-supportive tea and as an addition to broths, stocks, and soups for an extra healing touch.
One of my favorite mood-boosting herbs, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) complements teas, salads, pestos, or any other dish where you might use mint. Loved by pollinators and revered by herbalists, this sweet and citrusy member of the mint family is a mighty medicinal and ideal in any home healing garden.
A popular culinary and medicinal herb, oregano (Origanum vulgare) boasts strong antimicrobial properties and support for the digestive system. This classic herb infuses well in oils and vinegars, which can then be used in dressings, marinades, and more. Freshly dried oregano preserved straight from the garden is an aromatic treat for the senses and a great addition to many a dish.
Also known as holy basil, tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a staple herb in the Ayurvedic healing tradition. Frequently used as an adaptogen, this summer perennial can be steeped into a calming and restorative tea (served hot or iced) perfect for supporting the nervous system throughout the season.
With a subtle flavor of licorice, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a wonderful addition to any medicinal herb garden. Pollinators love the abundant purple blooms of this herbaceous, sweet perennial, and the fresh leaves and flowers make an aromatic addition to seasonal teas, cordials, and syrups.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consulting with your physician is always recommended before adding herbal supplements into your diet, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
Anna Marie Beauchemin is a professional herbalist, educator, and writer based in Martinez. She loves writing about the intersection of the culinary and medicinal worlds, creating seasonally relevant herbal recipes that can be used in everyday life. Learn more at eastbayherbals.com.