Experiment with these five herbs: They're easy to grow in regular potting soil and versatile in the kitchen, says Gayle Engels, education director of the American Botanical Council.
|Herbs||How to Grow||How to Use|
|SAGE||Plant seeds or cuttings in spring a few weeks before the last frost in sunny, well–drained soil or in a container on a sunny windowsill.||Soothe coughs by sipping fresh sage tea: Place 6 to 8 clean leaves in a mug, crush them with a spoon, add hot water, cover, and steep to release the leaves' essential oils. Remove the leaves when the tea is cool enough to drink.|
|BASIL||Rich in antioxidants, basil (Ocimum basilicum) is antimicrobial; in 2007, Brazilian researchers found that basil essential oil added to drinking water helped kill the common parasite Giardia lamblia. Basil is used to reduce stress, ease tummyaches, and fortify immunity.||Plant seeds (marshallgrain.com sells organic ones) in a sunny spot a few weeks after spring's last frost in soil that drains well. Potted basil thrives in a sunny window.|
|ROSEMARY||If you live in a frost–free climate, place cuttings in a warm area in soil that drains well. Or grow it yearround in a container.||Versatile rosemary pairs well with chicken, fish, and potatoes. When grilling, place a few fresh stalks (stripped of leaves) on the coals to add aroma and flavor to foods. You can also use fresh sprigs instead of skewers.|
|LEMON BALM||Plant seeds or cuttings in spring in full sun or partial shade. Lemon balm can proliferate quickly; to contain it, grow it in pots outdoors.||Make a cup of calming bedtime tea (follow the directions for sage tea).|
|PEPPERMINT||In a partially shaded area, plant seeds or cuttings in moist soil in late spring or early summer. The plant can take over a garden if not harvested regularly, so pinch off larger leaves as it grows.||Sip a cup or two of peppermint tea (follow the directions for sage tea, page 16) after dinner to help ease or prevent tummy trouble. To relieve congestion, place 8 to 10 leaves in a pot of boiling water, tent a towel over your head, and inhale the minty steam for several minutes.|