Herbs 101 - How To Get Started Using Herbs
Do You Like Herbs?
I love my herbs!
I only scratch the surface of them, but I've been growing and using my own herbs for years. In fact, that's how I got my girls into a bit of mindful gardening. But I thought I'd share a few herb tips because we can all use herbs. They're really easy to grow. They're really easy to use.
Which Herbs To Use?
There are so many different herbs that you can grow and use. I am going to just cover some of the basic ones here: Rosemary, Lavender and Mint.
And as I sat here drinking my rosemary tea this morning, which is great detoxify and uplifter, I thought I should share some of this with you. There are soo many uses of these healthy herbs, including how to cook with herbs and herbs that heal.
So, Rosemary, if you've got any in your garden and I know lots of you have and you're going, yeah, it's just kind of a bush and it's there and it's green all year. This is a herb that is found in soo many garden. You may have thought "what can I use Rosemary for?". The lovely thing is you can just cut stems from your Rosemary and pop it into a teapot and then use a strainer over your cup and you are good to go. A gorgeous cup of Rosemary Tea!
I also like it dried because it seems to make the taste smoother, especially as tea.
Traditionally you use Rosemary in cooking. Either adding a few needles into your roast potatoes or you can add it to your meat too, especially beef or steak
Just add some needles to a pot of sea salt and you can then use liberally when you are cooking your roast vegetables, or add it to your joint of beef as its cooking.
Add 3-4 sprigs of Rosemary to your olive oil, it infuses the oil and then you have the not only the flavour but the goodies from the herb too. If you keep shaking the bottle, you will help to defuse the herb through the oil.
Rosemary Hair Conditioner
- Add some sprigs of Rosemary to a mix of Apple Cider Vinegar and water. I use a 60/40 ratio (water to vinegar)
- Stir up and leave for a few hours to defuse.
- Shampoo as normal, then use the mixture throughout your hair. WARNING, tip your head back while you are pouring or the vinegar goes into your eyes! Wash out thoroughly.
Trust me you do not smell of vinegar afterwards either!
Your hair will be knot free and it also cleans the scalp and washes all the shampoo impurities out of your hair! I use this one a week to keep my scalp clean and wash any shampoo build up out of my hair.
We all know this one and many people again will just have this as a bush in their garden but when it flowers they just leave the flowers where they are. Now you can follow some of these recipes you can start to harvest your own!
Lavender is well known for it relaxation properties and is still my favourite oil and herb to use for massage. Growing my own enables me to use it all year round and I can add it to so many different things.
Wait for the flowers to start drying on the plant, you will still have the flowers whole but you will need to dry them before use. I just cut all of mine back and then tie up the lavender with string, hang it upside down inside and wait 1-2 weeks. I then just get a big cloth and shake out the dried flowers from the stems. I use a sieve to take out as much of the little broken stems as I can. I then store my Lavender in a big cake tin - does the job nicely!
Lavender Bath Salt
- I like to use Epsom Salt, but you can also use Himalayan Salt too. Get a nice looking jar or bottle and nearly fill with your choice of salt, add a good handful of your dried lavender and shake up.
- Put 2 large handfuls of the mix into your bath as it is running and you will have one of the best muscle soaks. The salts are great for muscle recovery and also incredible relaxing.
Lavender Body Scrub
Another gloriously simple thing to make (in fact I also add this as my Mindful Makes with the kids). Just add a nice handful of dried lavender to a small jar of granulated sugar, add 1-2 drops of oil (olive oil is fine, or sunflower oil if you have it), shake up the jar and rub it into your skin before you shower! Silky soft skin, smelling amazing and all natural!
I think most of us are aware of how diverse Mint can be. There are lots of different varieties available, most of which I have loved to grow and drink or use in cooking. I like garden mint, chocolate mint and spearmint.
I always try and use the fresh herb for this and simply pick an few leaves when I fancy a cuppa. Then I add it to a tea pot (I don't like mine too strong) leave it to brew for 5 mins then pour into my nice tea cup (using a strainer). It is the best pick me up and has such a clean taste that I always feel my mood lift. It tends to be my mid-afternoon cuppa. Allows me to focus on the work needing doing later in the day.
Cooking With Mint
When cooking with mint, I tend to use dry the herb before. You can either string it up, or I tend to just leave it somewhere cool and dry for 1-2 weeks and then put the leaves into a nice jar.
I add my mint to roast lamb, adding it as I am preparing the joint. I also make my own mint sauce, using the dried leaves and a little apple cider vinegar.
Getting The Kids Involved In Growing Herbs
We have been using herbs as a family for years and my girls still love getting involved. From picking new herbs to plant, to harvesting and making my tea! It is such a glorious way of introducing gardening to your children and as long as you pick herbs that are safe then you can encourage them to pick a leaf and try a herb!
When your herb plant flowers, they normally are some of the best pollinators in your garden. Bees just love them! Our Sage plant seems to be the bees favourite in the Summer, there are sometimes so many bees we cannot count them.
The joy of herbs is you don't even need a garden as they grow soo well in pots! In fact for Mint, I would recommend you only grow them in a pot as they spread everywhere! Even if you have a windowsill you can still grow your own herb garden. They are also pretty hardy, so even the kids can be left in charge of maintenance. Encouraging them to have their own mini garden is a lovely way of gently allowing them to build their own responsibility.
NOTE: Please do wash all your herbs before use - just to get any bugs out! If you use any pesticides in your garden I would wash 2- 3 times before using.
Mindful Makes For Kids Using Herbs
Tea or Cold Water Infusion
The simple joy of just adding a few springs of a herb to a class of water, or into a tea pot is a way to get even your young kids involved in using herbs. Why not set up a 'cocktail bar', have a few little bowls of different herbs that they have collected and let them experiment! Just have a couple of glasses (or beakers) of water and let them play. You can even do this outdoors, that way if they don't like the 'brew', they can just water the plants with the unwanted concoctions!
Lavender Bath Soak
This has been a family favourite for years. I make these with the kids every few months and we have been making them together since the girls were about 3. As it only uses dry ingredients it is very easy to clean up from and all the ingredients are natural so chemical free. A lovely kids craft that uses natural healing herbs:
- Get a big bowl of porridge oats, and handful of lavender and a hand full of Calendula (you can just use the lavender on its own too). Just mix it all together, hands are best here (which makes is much more fun).
- Cut up 10" squares of muslin (you can use jam muslin, or just old baby muslins if you have them).
- Place a handful of your mix in the middle
- Gather up each corner of the muslin and then tie with ribbon or string. You need this to be secure, or the mix will spill out in the bath.
- Pop into a bath, and you have the most delicious bath soak.
- Great for all skin conditions, and still the one we use when my daughters eczema rears up. The oats make it super nutritious for the skin, the lavender and calendula are anti-inflammatory and anti-sceptic so perfect for calming and itching or inflammation.
If you love making things with your kids, you can also find out how we make our own all natural toilet bombs! Kids love them and they are safe to use and a mini chemistry experiment too!
Your Herb Garden - Mindful Gardening
Go out into your garden, see what herbs you've got, and the key is with being mindful parents that you get your kids involved. Even if you have a little one, get her to pick them. And if she eats it, you know it is not going to harm. There's no harm in the herbs unless obviously you're taking some massive doses!
But, you know, get the kids involved, get them picking this stuff and adding them into things and helping you with the cooking, even if it's just sprinkle of herbs on top. They also get to see where their food is coming from. They can try the different tastes, have fun with it. That's the key. Get the kids involved, but have fun with it. This isn't another lesson that we have to do, we just all need time and space to connect with ourselves, our kids and nature. A spot of Mindful Gardening is good for mind, body and soul.
No matter the time of year, there is always access to the lovely plants that nourish us and herbs are a great way to start.
I hope that this has given you a little inspiration to get growing and using herbs at home with your children. Grow herbs, pick them, eat them, drink them, use herbs for natural remedies. From herbs for cooking to herbs for healing they offer us a great excuse to learn more and to teach our kids that often the best things can be found right in our own garden!
If like me you love learning more about herbs, then I have just finished the most glorious online course - there is no affiliate link here - it is just a fantastic course
Take care and enjoy!