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Gardener Resources: Growing and Using Herbs
For many centuries, human beings have noticed the importance of herbs and their uses for medicinal and culinary purposes, however, herbal medicines are still poorly understood by much of the public and the media. Therefore, the most crucial question is 'what are herbs?' What are their different properties and uses, in which form are these herbs utilized? Since allopathic drugs can be associated with severe side effects, more attention is now being given to alternative medicines, primarily herbs. It is therefore imperative to know the different kinds of herbs, how they are grown, importance of herb gardens, and in what form they can be utilized for gaining maximum benefits. 

What are herbs?

They are plants endowed with elements that have been used in medicinal, cosmetics, and for culinary purposes for decades. The valuable elements of these plants may include leaves, bark, roots, seeds, gums, flowers and stems besides others.
  • What are Herbs: The link talks about herbs, and herbal culture.
  • Common herbs: The site provides a list of common herbs and describes each of them in detail.
  • Herbs For Beginners: The site talks about every aspect of herbs including history, gardening, drying and preserving herbs and herbal tips.
Medicinal Herbs and Their Use

Medicinal herbs are many and their medicinal values differ as well. Some of the most common medicinal herbs and their some of their uses have been mentioned below:

Angelica: It is an herbal plant that stimulates appetite, helps in digestion and eases gas and stomach cramps. 
Chickweed: This herb is used for soothing skin itching and more.
Garlic: Increases resistance against infection, shows antimicrobial activity and is also used for cardiovascular treatments. 
Ginger: It is a well known herb that is used in cooking everyday. It stimulates saliva flow and digestive activity, relieves vomiting, and eases pain from diarrhea. 
Horsetail: This herb is rich in minerals, strengthens tissues and has antiarthritic properties as well. 
Nasturtium: This herb is useful for resistance against infection, and a good source of Vitamin C. 
Red clover: This herb can be used in ointment for to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Rosemary: This herb is useful in the improvement of blood supply to the brain region.
Yarrow: This herb increases sweating during fever, works as a digestive tonic and relieves flatulence, cleanses wounds externally and stops bleeding. 
  • Medicinal Herbs: This site discusses different kinds of herbal species and also provides images of the same. 
  • Popular Herbs: This link discusses popular herbs such as basil, min, dill, and chives, in detail. 
  • Herbal Supplements: The link discusses different herbal supplements such as ginger, garlic, ginkgo, etc in detail. 
  • Herbal Medicine Supplements: A list of link which discuss Chinese herbs and their medicinal values. 
  • Medicinal Herbal Production: A list of links discussing herbal production in detail. 
  • Specific Herbal Medicines: A list of links providing complete information on herbal medicines in detail.
  • Alternative Medicines: A list of links discussing herbal medicines, which are used for various therapeutic purposes. 
  • Top-20 Herbs: Lists 20 top herbs and their medicinal values in detail. 
Culinary Herbs

Culinary herbs are fresh or dried leaves extracted from herbaceous plants and used as food flavoring. There are many plants which are grown for this purpose, but some of the commercially grown herbs are cilantro, French tarragon, mint, horseradish, sweet basil, and thyme, etc. 
Herbs and Religion:

In many cultures herbs hold some importance in religion. In pagan belief mistletoe can been used in rituals celebrating the solstice as a symbol of immortality. In America, some indigenous peoples use peyote in religious and social ceremonies as a sacramental rite. Other Native American sacred plants include morning glory seeds, diviner's sage, white sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. In ancient Asian cultures the ritual drink Soma was used which is made from the extracted juice from the plant stalks. In Christianity myrrh and frankincense are used in religious ceremonies because of their scriptural significance.

  • Herbalism: The site discusses various aspects of herbs as a religion.
  • Myrrh and Frankincense: This page discusses the religious aspects associated with myrrh and frankincense throughout history.
Pest Control Using Herbs:

Though several pesticides and pest control products are available, only a few really work and many others pose harmful effects on the environment and on human beings when they are exposed to such chemicals. Many people might not realize the fact that when nature strikes, nature also provides solutions. This is also true when it comes to pest prevention. There are many herbs that are used for the prevention of insect pests. Some common herbs used for pest control are mentioned below:

Mint: Different varieties of mint are effective against insects. For example, peppermint is used effectively for the control of ants, lice, moths, and flies, etc. Pennyroyal, on the other hand is used for the control of moths, ticks, and ants. 
Basil: Though it is commonly used for culinary purposes, this herb can effectively control pests. It is very effective for warding off flies. 
Citronella: This herb is very effective against mosquitoes. Essential oil and scented candles made from citronella are used for warding off mosquitoes. 
Growing and Harvesting Herbs:

Herbs such as basil, dill, chive, parsley, sage and thyme can be grown either in herb gardens or vegetable gardens. Most of the herbs can grow in the same land where vegetables are grown. However, gardeners should pay special attention regarding the drainage and moisture requirements of some herbs. For example, sage, thyme and rosemary require well-drained and low moisture soil conditions, whereas herbs like chervil, parsley, and mint grow on soils that retain moisture. 

Harvesting of leaves can be done when plants contain enough foliage to maintain proper growth. In order to ensure sufficient oil content pick leaves or seeds once the dew has disappeared and before the sunlight gets intense. However, for dry, winter use pick leaves before the flower buds open. In the same manner, harvest the seed heads when the color changes from green to brown or gray. Clean the leaves and seeds in cold water, drain thoroughly and dry. 

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