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How your garden can serve up more than a side of flavor



Herbs to Your Health

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Growing your own fresh herbs benefits more than just your wallet, it’s also good for your waistline and your overall health.

Jerri Locke, director of healthy aging at Methodist Dallas, says the exercise involved in gardening (bending, stretching, digging and weight lifting) is good for gardeners of all ages and results in a nutrient-rich diet. Not only does it keep your body moving, gardening is known to be a stress-reliever and provides a boost in mental health.

Getting started

Knowing what to plant and when to plant is the first step toward a successful herb garden. Stephen Seewoester, master gardener volunteer at Texas A&M, advises North Texas residents to plant around April or early May. He suggests using containers at first, so you can find the best spot in your yard for the four to six hours of daily sunlight most herbs need to thrive.

“We live in an area of the country where growing herbs can be done almost year-round, which makes it very economical,” explains Barbara Gollman, also a master gardener volunteer with Texas A&M. “And you can always dry the herbs you don’t use at the end of the season.”

Novice gardeners often struggle with gauging a plant’s water needs—be careful to not overwater or underwater. Also, plant herbs with similar water, soil and sunlight needs together.

Growing tips

Fresh herbs not only add flavor without calories, but they may also serve up health benefits.

Certain herbs flourish in North Texas, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley and dill. These popular homegrown herbs are also loaded with nutrients.

Rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties. This healing herb may also help with digestion and memory function.
Needs: full sun; allow soil to dry out between waterings

Thyme is used as a remedy for respiratory problems. The essential oil from thyme leaves can be used as a natural cough remedy or to alleviate symptoms of bronchitis. 
Needs: full sun and excellent drainage; a slightly acidic soil
Tip: add lime juice to soil

Basil’s antibacterial properties make it great for your skin. This flavorful herb can also help combat stress.
Needs: full sun in the morning, shade in the afternoon; don’t overwater and ensure soil drains well

Parsley can provide relief from gastrointestinal issues. The leafy green herb has also been found to have heart-healthy effects, such as reducing blood pressure.
Needs: moist soil, full sun or partial shade
Tip: use mulch to keep soil moist

Dill aids in digestion. It’s also a good source of calcium, manganese and iron and is an antioxidant food; its flavonoids provide anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Needs: direct sun, keep watered in dry weather, may need staking to keep stems tall

Did you know?

Additionally, gardening can:
•    boost mental health.
•    relieve stress.
•    keep hand dexterity strong.
•    provide gifts for family and friends.
•    add curb appeal to your landscape.

You don’t need a green thumb or a huge plot of land to reap the benefits of growing fresh herbs. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of flavorful health benefits. What are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves, and get started on a new hobby that can improve your health.  n

Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.

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