Spring is the perfect time to think about starting a herb garden that will not only make all of your dishes flavor-rich and delicious, but will also provide disease fighting antioxidant power and other health benefits in a concentrated form. Fresh herbs are great for sauces, soups, casseroles, salads and teas and also add flavor to meat, fish and poultry dishes. Growing your own herbs is not only easy and can be done from any apartment with sunlight, it’s also much less expensive than buying them once they’ve been harvested. You’ll also likely enjoy the experience of contributing something you’ve grown yourself to your home-cooked meals.
To get started, choose your favorite herbs for both taste and health use.
Common uses: Italian dishes, tomato sauce, stir-fries and pesto (combined with garlic and olive oil).
Health benefits: Basil contains flavonoids that provide cellular level protection. Basil is also a strong anti-bacterial agent, relieves inflammation, and protects the heart with its rich Vitamin A content. Basil also contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and more.
Common uses: Pizza topping, salad dressings, garlic bread and tomato sauce.
Health benefits: Oregano is a potent antioxidant, making it great for immunity, with 42x more activity than apples, 30x more activity than potatoes, 12x more activity than oranges and 4x more activity than blueberries. Like basil, it is also inhibits the growth of bacteria and is one of the strongest antifungals. 
Common uses: Pizza topping, chicken, fish, tomato sauce and beans.
Health benefits: Great for brain function, including memory and concentration. For this reason, it may be helpful for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Like other herbs, it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is particularly useful for those with arthritis and asthma. It’s also prevents the hardening of the arteries, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. 
Common uses: French fries, chicken, tomato sauce and soup.
Health benefits: Stimulates the immune system, improves circulation and great for digestion. Rosemary is also anti-inflammatory and great for concentration.
Common uses: Tea, cold drinks, smoothies, garnish and salads.
Health benefits: Great for relaxing muscles to relieve IBS and other digestive system symptoms. Has been shown stop tumor growth and protect against some forms of cancer in animal studies. Antibacterial and helpful for clearing nasal passages.
Common uses: Salads, soups, sauces, tabbouleh and meat marinade.
Overall, like most plant foods, fresh herbs are a great source of a multitude of vitamins, minerals, calcium, manganese, potassium, iron, fiber and magnesium. Luckily, its extremely easy to grow your own herbs at home, providing a fresh, tasty and nutritious condiment to almost any meal.
Tips for Growing Herbs (best during the spring and summer):
1. Find a spot in the house or outside that offers at least 6 hours of sunlight at moderate temperatures. Although growing herbs outside will produce a more flavorful plant, the main benefit of growing indoors is that you will have fresh herbs year round.
2. Create a healthy soil mixed with compost, sand and a bit of organic fertilizer.
3. While you can grow your own herbs from seeds (5-10 weeks), you can also more easily buy young plants to get you started.
4. Keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater. It’s best to wait until the topsoil completely dries out before adding more water. However mint and parsley do great with a more moist soil.
5. Harvest the leaves frequently before the flowers grow. The flower usually indicates the end of a cycle.
6. Be careful not to over-fertilize as the herbs can lose flavor.
7. At the end of the season, you can either bring the herbs inside (prior to the first frost) with the intention of replanting the following year or you can clip the leaves and freeze them with filtered water as ices cubes that can be melted and used during the winter months.
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/top-10-anti-aging-herbs-and-spices?page=3#copy
 Swan, J. (2011, April 10). Healthy benefits of fresh herbs. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/512661-healthy-benefits-of-fresh-herbs/
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://blog.planetnatural.com/herb-gardening/
Published On: May 15, 2013