Healing in the Garden
Gardening is good for the body and soul. If it weren’t obvious already, scientific research is finding interesting conclusions about the health benefits of playing in the dirt and connecting more with nature. The mere act of gardening has been shown to correlate with increased well-being and decreases in lifestyle-related diseases, behavioral issues, depression and anxiety. It is quickly becoming clear that gardening could play a key role in one’s overall health and well-being.
Yet there is another opportunity to promote health that every gardener should know about. Growing medicinal herbs, which provide a variety of health benefits, is a priceless addition to the garden. Using even common herbs for simple at-home remedies and recipes can be life altering, providing an endless supply of potential healing.
Other great reasons to grow herbs in the garden include:
Herbs are easy to grow. Many common herbs lend themselves easily to being grown in small spaces or in pots on a patio. Some varieties are drought tolerant and can thrive in all kinds of environments, even in the desert. A lot of herbs are generally low-maintenance plants that will tolerate a bit of neglect and be more forgiving to beginner gardeners.
Herbs give and give. A lot of herbal plants can be trimmed and eaten right away, and can be snipped and used throughout the growing season. Garden herbs are often perennials, meaning they will come back year after year. With a little attention to their needs, usually in the form of water, mulch and the occasional pruning, they will give medicine (or flavor to your recipes) for years to come.
Herbs contain phytonutrients. Fresh-grown herbs can be incredibly potent. They are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids and endless other vital components that contribute to health. Many gardeners and herbalists choose to grow what is known as “nutritive herbs,” which are basically plants that are well known for their abundance of essential nutrients that are not typically plentiful in most people’s diet. This can have a beneficial domino effect on all of the body’s systems and support specific health issues.
Herbs benefit the ecosystem. Even in a small garden, planting herbs can benefit the environment. They are great for feeding pollinators and providing habitat for helpful garden bugs. Herbs are also great for accumulating organic matter and can draw up nutrients from deep in the soil. Many aromatic herbs are naturally resistant to pests and diseases and can even be used in homemade garden sprays to support plant health.
Now the fun part is just deciding which herbs to plant and getting to know the different health benefits they can provide. Although most herbs are quite safe, it is still important to research each plant and talk to your doctor before starting any herbal or natural therapy. Also be sure to purchase seeds or plants from reliable companies, as plant or seed mix-ups do occur.
Herbal plants offer so many benefits to gardeners and to the garden as well. In our modern, fast-paced world, gardening and connecting with nature is something that can give people a deeper understanding of the world around them. These plants have the power to promote health, and only add to the healing experience that gardening is. Any gardener can cultivate the natural relationships and healing that growing herbal plants can provide.
Rebecca Diane is a mother, writer, herbal apprentice, and master gardener, with a degree in sustainable food systems. She is a backyard medicinal herb farmer who offers medicinal herb seedlings and holistic consultations to her local community. For more information, visit DescendantBotanicals.com or follow her desert gardening journey on Instagram or Facebook.