When it comes to your survival garden, it's essential to grow hearty, sustaining plants to get through rough times or just enjoy peace of mind. But don't dismiss herbs as a way to fortify your nutrition, enhance your garden, and have some fun in the process. Here's a look at how to leverage a herb garden to make the most of your survival strategy, from flavoring dishes and butter to creating home remedies.
1) Enhance the Flavor of Your Dishes
When you add herbs to salads, meat dishes, veggies, or a simple slice of toast, you quickly dress up your food to enjoy something more enticing. For example, toast, fresh tomatoes from your survival garden, basil, and a sprinkling of goat cheese mozzarella make for a mouth-watering breakfast or snack.
You can start your herb garden with the help of our Culinary Vault, offering 14 varieties to stock your kitchen herbs and spices and includes favorites like basil, cilantro, mustard, and chives. All of our seeds are heirloom and Non-GMO, empowering you to harvest the seeds of annual varieties and plant them year after year.
2) Mix Them Up in a Drink
When it comes to a sustainable survival strategy, all you need are some herbs and a good water source for a refreshing way to quench your thirst. Let a glass, or pitcher of water, seep with mint or basil for about six hours to draw out their full flavor. For cocktail hour, try fresh basil with gin or add dill to vodka for a surprisingly refreshing flair. Or try slicing up strawberries and lemons and throwing in some basil for a wild flavor.
One of the best parts of growing an herb garden is how plentiful your yields are with room to experiment. Some gardeners even add rosemary to their morning coffee to give it an earthy spiced flavor while providing antioxidants to your day.
3) Make a Body Scrub
There's no need to stock up on store-bought scrubs for your pantry when you can make your own. Take a half-cup of coconut oil, half-cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of dried rosemary leaves and lavender, all finely chopped, and store in a mason jar or tightly sealed container. You end up with an inexpensive, organic scrub that feels refreshing and relaxing while soothing aches and pain.
Or try a cup of sea salt or sugar with a 1/2 cup of oil (try coconut, olive, or almond) and 1/2 cup of dried, finely chopped herbs. You can reach for anything from lavender to chamomile and throw in some soothing rose petals to add color.
4) Dress Up Your Basic Butter
Give your butter an immediate upgrade with fresh herbs from your survival garden. Take a half cup of room temperature softened butter and add up to three teaspoons of finely chopped herbs. You can also give it more flavor with lemon zest and a dash of salt. Beyond giving your basic bread and butter new life, it's also a great way to use up wilting herbs and rescue them from the trash or compost bin.
Pro tip: You can also make sweet butters with the help of cinnamon, sugar, and honey.
5) Create Your Own Herb-Infused Olive Oil
Start with a cup of olive oil and your preferred dried herbs and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes without letting it simmer or smoke. You'll strain out the herbs, transfer the oil to a clean bottle with a cork, and store it in a dark, cool place. A lemon peel and a teaspoon of thyme infused in oil also make for a great dressing while supporting your liver and potentially restoring cell damage.
6) Whip Up an Herb Purée
A fresh herb purée is easy to make and add to just about any dish. When your herbs start to go bad and turn, you can blend them into an easy herb sauce for an infusion of flavor. Start with your favorites from your herb garden and chop everything up coarsely. Add chopped-up chives, scallions, or scraps of garlic before seasoning with salt. Next, combine the herbs with about ¼ cup of olive oil, but you may need to experiment to get the consistency you want just right.
7) Design an Herbal Centerpiece
Herbal centerpieces are an inexpensive and unique way to create a centerpiece for your table or add some flourish around your home. Take your favorite herbs, especially colorful ones like lavender, and arrange them in a simple bouquet before placing them in a mason jar. If you want to get more creative, add an ornamental cabbage with pops of purple and fresh rosemary in a small pot or decorative wooden crate to complete your look.
8) Make Your Own Home Remedies
Herbs are an inexpensive herbal remedy that often requires nothing but pinching it off, adding it to a dish, or eating it fresh. For example, cilantro is a powerful digestive aid and helps remove toxins from your body. Rosemary is shown to stimulate energy and help your brain refocus, making it a tasty alternative to a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda in the afternoon.
Beyond its fragrant qualities that keep you smelling great, lavender oil added to a bath can help alleviate stress and reduce tension. It could help you sleep better and serve as a welcome ingredient to creams to treat sunburns and acne. You may already use chamomile in tea, but you can turn to it anytime you want to soothe your nerves or upset stomach.
9) Add Them to Desserts
Herbs are often associated with flavoring meats, salads, and teas, but they can also be added to desserts. Mint and raspberries mashed into a purée with some sugar taste delicious over vanilla ice cream. Lavender can also give your chocolate cake or brownies a twist, while basil adds a mildly peppery flavor to custards or Greek yogurt with fruit.
10) Freeze Your Herbs
You don't hear a lot about freezing herbs, but it can easily be done and extend their shelf life. Hardy herbs like rosemary, theme, or dill can be spread onto a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper and put into the freezer. After your herbs are frozen, store them in an airtight container for ongoing freezer storage without worrying about clumping. When you’re ready to add them to a dish, take out a sprig from your freezer and let them slowly defrost.
More delicate herbs like mint and parsley can be removed from their stems and frozen into ice cubes. If you don't want to leave them in the tray, transfer them into an airtight container for easy access. Some herbs are also better frozen with oil, like basil. Remove their stems and add 1/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor before blending and placing into ice cube trays. Move them into containers or bags and doll them out one at a time as needed for a pesto or sauce.
Quick Tips for Growing Herbs in Your Survival Garden
Despite how delicate they seem, herbs are easy to grow in a garden. They need little space and don't require much care or attention. But here's a good rule of thumb: If area farmers or neighbors are growing specific herbs, you can also grow them. You can also check with your hardiness zone before planting your herbs to make sure they align with your climate and geographic location.
Start planting your herb garden in spring and sow directly into the ground every few weeks to last throughout the summer. Water them right away and make sure the soil drains well. If they're starting to wilt, they may be getting too much direct light. You can keep planting herbs while the weather is warm; you just won't get as much of a yield as the season starts to turn cold.
Another option is growing your herbs indoors and leaving them in a well-sunlit area. Plenty of home chefs keep an herb garden within reach, and they also make for a decorative way to jazz up your windowsill or empty corner of your kitchen to maximize your space.
Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of herbs grown fresh in your survival garden? We provide a one-stop shopping experience for your survival gardening needs. Browse our survival seeds, kits, and supplies, or purchase our pre-packaged options.