MOBE | Why—and how—to start a kitchen herb garden right now.

Why—and how—to start a kitchen herb garden right now.

The secret to delicious home-cooked meals: fresh herbs. Parsley. Basil. Thyme. Sage. Rosemary. Oregano. Mint. From sauces, meat, and veggies to teas, desserts, and mocktails, these leafy bursts of flavor turn anything into a celebration.

It’s time to forget about spending a few dollars for a tiny container from the grocery store, if you have sunny windows or a little outdoor space, you’re ready to start your own herb garden. It only takes a little space, time, and resources, and the benefits of these plants go way beyond big flavor.

Two perks to planting your own herby oasis.

They’re packed with health-boosting plant chemicals.
Vitamins and minerals have gotten most of the press for the last century or so. But researchers continue to identify other parts of plants that help prevent disease and prolong life, like polyphenols.

Herbs happen to come with a lot of polyphenols per square inch. Their antioxidant properties help reduce inflammation in the body, which is vitally important for the prevention of just about every disease process—especially heart disease.1 It takes more than a snip of parsley to achieve major effects, of course. But it all adds up.

They promote mind and body wellness.
Researchers analyzed a large collection of studies from around the world comparing groups of people who garden and those who don’t. The results were unquestionable: People who nurture plants have less depression and anxiety, lower stress, and higher quality of life.2

Time to get growing.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you have a green thumb, even a quarter cup of herbs is a harvest. If you have windows that get 5–8 hours of sunlight, a little patch of dirt, or some space outdoors for pots, you’re ready to get started.

You also don’t have to start from seeds. Many garden centers have hardy plants ready to take their place in a window or on your back porch—which means you get to that green goodness faster.

Indoors

  • Give your plants the best light available; 68 hours of sunlight through a window or artificial light daily is enough for most indoor herbs.
  • Water indoor herbs when the soil feels dry.
  • Try not to let your indoor herbs stay soggy, which encourages root rot. It’s the most common problem for herbs grown indoors.

Outdoors

  • Aim for at least six hours of direct sunlight. Go for southern or western exposure if possible. Some herbs may do well in a bright east-facing location, too.
  • If your herbs are tucked into the ground, plan to water thoroughly once a week, soaking to a depth of eight inches to nourish the roots.
  • Consider a layer of mulch at the base of your plants to help maintain soil moisture.
  • If your herbs are in a container, they’ll need water more often—daily during the hottest, sunniest part of summer.
  • Avoid letting your plants wilt between watering.

Harvesting hacks

  • Snip sprigs throughout the growing season, taking only as much as you’ll use the same day.
  • If you can, snip mid-morning when the oil content is highest.
  • Prolong the growing and the flavor by snipping and pruning to prevent flowering; texture and flavor decline as the plant goes to seed.

What are you waiting for? Basil for pesto. Mint for tea and tabbouleh. Oregano for pasta salad. Thyme for squash and beets. Fresh, pungent flavors like these are as easy as watching, watering, and snipping. Choose your favorite healthy flavors and get growing.

If you’re looking for more tips on eating for better health or taking up hobbies that promote better well-being, a MOBE Guide could help. To find out if you’re eligible for MOBE, check your status or call 844-841-9725. Ready to take the first step with a MOBE Guide? Schedule a call online or download the MOBE Health Guide app.

References:

1. Elizabeth Opara and Magali Chohan, “Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits,” International Journal of Molecular Science 15, no. 10 (October 2014): 19183-202, https://doi: 10.3390/ijms151019183.

2. Masashi Soga, Kevin J. Gaston, Yuichi Yamaura, “Gardening is Beneficial for Health: A Meta-Analysis,” Preventive Medicine Reports 5 (March 2017): 92-99, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007.

3. “Growing Herbs in Home Gardens,” University of Minnesota Extension, https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-herbs-home-gardens#watering-930511.