15 herbs to grow in your garden to cure anything from cold to sleeplessness
Looking for a home remedy (concoction) to cure that nagging running nose or cold?
 
A home that smells as heavenly as a spa.
 
Some aromatic herbs to garnish your dinner – freshly picked from the garden.
 
A herb infused flavorful water to quench the thirst during summer.
 
A heady aroma filling your bedroom that will gradually lull you to sleep.
 
Or, a natural sweetener for your diabetic mom?
 
What if I told you I have more than 15 fascinating herbs growing in all corners of my house from windowsills to terrace and balcony that do all of the above, and more.
 
And they are easy to grow in your garden, too. 
I didn’t plan the herb garden to begin with. It happened by accident, and then I started growing them on realizing the benefits.
 
Sunlight and square footage are two privileges, and perhaps, the biggest deterrents for a city gardener. In my previous apartment, we would get sunlight in the balcony only for 3-4 months a year.
 
All that changed when we moved to this new place. I now grow a variety of herbs in all types of containers all through the year. They range from the mundane holy basil to the exotic lavender and useful Stevia. To be honest, I have not had too much luck with the yield of vegetables. But, herbs? That’s one thing I am proud of. If one of them is not doing well, it becomes a reason for worry.
 
In this post, I will let you in on the secrets of how to grow herbs, when to grow what, and what you can use them for. Every herb has a medicinal quality, which when taken in small amounts can be home remedies to several diseases. So, shall we get started?
 

I will begin with the easy, hardy ones, and move to the relatively tougher ones.

General guidelines to grow herbs

  • Seeds or sapling? Most of these herbs are best grown from a sapling. Some are easy to grow from seeds such as the basil varieties.
  • Sunlight or shade? Most herbs require full sunlight, however, in summer I find the leaves getting burnt when the temperatures soar. so, if you can’t move them to partial shade or have a green net, then ensure the plants are watered twice a day.
  • Watering: deep watering after the soil is completely dry. Increase the frequency of watering in the summer months. But do not over water.
  • Soil: the plants face stunted growth if the soil is hard and lumpy. A well drained soil, mixture of red soil + cocopeat +manure suits them best.

1. Curry leaf

Curry leaves grows into a tree when planted in the ground. If you plant it in a pot, snip the leaves off to promote new growth.
Sunlight: grows well in full sunlight.
Stunted growth: feed the plants diluted buttermilk to induce growth.
Pests to watch out for:
Black spots on the back of the leaf.
Tobacco worms. These are huge worms that are difficult to spot except for their big, shiny eyes. If you spot small, round green droppings at the bottom of the plant, you must closely examine the leaves for these worms. They take the color of the leaves they eat making it difficult to locate them. they feed on leaves and in no time can eat the full plant. Get rid of them by plucking the leaf where you see the worm and squish them.
How to use: it’s used a lot in Indian cooking from chutneys to curries for flavoring. Dried leaves can be added to coconut oil as it promotes hair growth.
 Curry Leaf

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is a hardy herb and the one I have had least trouble with. Get a sapling from a nursery. I have not spotted any pests so far. It requires full sunlight and adequate watering. 
How to use: I use it in just about everything from salads, pasta, and sauces to savory baked dishes. The flavor is overpowering, so use it in moderation. The dried herb makes for a great potpourri.
Rosemary
 

3. Lavender

I had planted lavender along the edges of the pot that had Orange tree. But I realized that lavender grew like a weed during the winter months eventually harming the Orange tree. So I recently moved it to a separate pot.
Use lavender for sleeplessness: Lavender smells heavenly and the dried herb in a ceramic cup by the nightstand is slowly but surely curing me of insomnia.
Lavender
 

4. Oregano

Oregano needs no introduction for its role in continental dishes. Just like oregano, I grew this one along the edges of the pot that had Guava tree. It grew like a weed eventually drying out towards the end of winter. I am not sure if it was the seasonal effect. So I moved it to a different pot and it’s been doing well since.
Oregano
 

5. Lemon mint

The leaves are large. The stems are tender and tend to dry out quickly during summer or if not watered frequently. The leaves have an intense lemon flavor. Well, we call this the Amruntanjan plant at home. This grows in the terrace and I love to crush its leaves to take in some of that fragrance.
How to use:
Just rub the leaves of this herb against your temple and it can cure you of a lingering head ache. Somehow, I have felt the same effect with the rosemary, too.
That aside, lemon basil is a great flavoring agent in soups. Add this to a concoction made of ginger, lemongrass, thai basil, garlic and it will cure you of cold.
Use it to flavor water in the summer.
Lemon Basil
 

6. Clove basil

This variant of basil is intense and spicy. Apart from using it in my cold concoction, I’m yet to find an alternative use for this one.
 

7. Camphor basil

I crushed the leaves of this basil variety, and it made my head spin. One leaf is good enough to leave a lingering taste of camphor in the mouth. It’s best had steeped in water than as fresh leaves.
 

8. Mint

It’s a shame to admit that it is one of the easiest plants to grow that threaten to take over your whole garden when unchecked. But, I struggled for a long time before I found success. Loved the spearmint and peppermint varieties of the mint. I grew them for a while and used them sparingly in teas. Chewing the peppermint leaves is akin to chewing on a mouth freshener. The best part: I grew them on my kitchen windowsill and consumed faster than it grew.
 
How to use: salads, teas, chutneys, dried for garnishing
Mint
 

9. Stevia

The leaves have a mild sweetness to them – quite different from that of sugar or palm sugar or jaggery. Leaves and stems of the stevia plant are slender. They do not like harsh sunlight and thrive well in indirect light. Water them regularly and pot them in a well drained soil.
Stevia
 

10. Italian basil

I got size saplings from a nursery two years ago, and within months, my garden looked like a basil forest. They LOVE sun. Too much water or lack of one will kill them as will shade. Save the seeds. these are easy to grow from seeds.
To ensure the plants thrive and taste well, snip the parts that flower. This ensures the leaves taste fresh.
How to use: I pluck a few leaves and infuse them in a jar of water in the summer. You can make delicious pesto with basil. They are a great addition to pasta sauces, too.
Italian Basil
 

11. Lemongrass

This one doesn’t deserve to be at the end of the list. The easiest to grow of them all. Give them sunlight and water, and they are happy. Keep plucking the strands for sustained growth.
 
How to use: in chai, rasam, soups to cure cold, and in concoction for cold.
 

12. Betel leaves

This is perhaps the only one that doesn’t love full sunlight. The creeper grows well in shade and likes to be watered enough.
betel leaf
 How to use: you can just chew on the leaves or steep it in water for a few minutes and drink the water. It is excellent for treating indigestion like ajwain leaves, and also has properties to fight common cold.

13. Coriander

 Coriander or Cilantro
There is something called the CCF water that I have been using lately which stands for cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds. These seeds boiled in water is good to bring down fever. The coriander leaves themselves are used in just about every India curry for garnishing or to make chutneys. It takes about 4 weeks to grow from seeds; it grows best in well drained containers that receive full sunlight. However, in summer, if you forget to water them, you’ll stand losing the crop within a day.

14. Ajwain

Ajwain

15. Holy Basil

 

 

holy Basil Tulsi

As the name indicates, it has a religious significance. There is a belief that a few leaves a day had every morning helps keep cold at bay. It is often used to make kashayam – a concoction of herbs when is down with the flu.

Here is one recipe that uses some of these herbs:  I brew a strong concoction made of garlic bulbs (grows along the edges of all pots as it helps in containing pests), basil leaves, tulsi, betel leaves, ajwain, ginger and lemon grass. Add a dash of honey to the concoction and have to two times a day to keep cold at bay.

Even if you don’t have dedicated containers, you can tuck the herbs along the edges of pots or in between plants. All of these herbs can be grown in containers in a balcony or on your windowsill if it receives adequate sunlight. I have a few more growing in the garden (now shown here) such as garlic and green pepper.

Blessed is the person whose body is fit and mind healthy.

2 Comments

  1. Jeffery Hernandez

    Great post! I love gardening and hence I was thinking which plant should I plant on my balcony. Thanks to your list which made it easy for me to select the right plant. I have decided that I will plant lavender and mint on my balcony. Thanks for the list.

  2. laksh

    Great choices. Both have intense flavors.

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