By Nina, Contributing Writer
A few years ago, I realized that a prime piece of real estate was going unused in my kitchen: my windowsill. While I love to declutter surfaces and have nothing on them, my windowsill is different. Since every kitchen windowsill I’ve had has plenty of access to sunlight, I figured it was the perfect place to grow herbs year-round. They’re also very close to the sink, which makes it much easier for me to remember to water my precious plants.
Now, growing windowsill herbs doesn’t have to be relegated to the kitchen – if you’ve got other windowsills that would be a great home for plants, use them! Houseplants are great for absorbing toxins from the surrounding environment, which makes them a great addition to any green home. Speaking of green, growing your own herbs is a great idea because you can avoid buying herbs that need to be shipped and/or come in plastic packaging.
When we need aloe vera, we just snip a tiny bit off the aloe plant growing on the window sill and use the gel inside to soothe skin scorched by the sun. Aloe vera can also be taken internally to help cleanse the digestive tract and improve digestion. This hardy plant doesn’t need much water and even I’ve been unable to kill it. I also use it as a drying rack for the plastic bags I wash out and reuse. Bonus!
I grew mint for the first time last year and I’m hooked! I love the taste and smell of fresh mint – it reminds of summers on the herb farm I grew up on. Some of my favorite uses for it are infusing it in simple syrup and adding it to some garden fresh spring rolls. Mint is also a great stomach soother and I like to make mint tea for an upset stomach. Simply steep 2 tsp fresh mint in 1 cup hot water, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
So many dishes can be made even better by adding fresh basil. I love throwing it in stir fries, adding it to pizza and making pesto sauce. In addition to tasting delicious, basil can also be used as a medicinal herb. By adding it to your diet, you can enjoy its antibacterial properties. It”s also rich in magnesium and helps with indigestion and constipation.
Calendula officinalis, or Pot Marigold, is a great herb to have on hand at all times. I love infusing it in water and using the infusion to cleanse wounds, soothe irritated skin and even treat pink eye. To make an infusion, take a quart-size jar and add a handful of calendula petals. Boil some water and pour that over the petals, leaving about an inch of room at the top. Cover and let steep in a dark area for the next 12 hours. Take out the herbs and you have an infusion! I also use calendula to make a soothing salve for dry skin and diaper rash.
Catnip isn’t just for driving cats crazy. It’s also good for anxiety, insomnia and stomach pain. While my kids get a kick out of giving it to my mom’s cats, I love using it in this calming tea. It”s safe to give to kids and works so well at calming them down and getting them ready for sleep.
What herbs are growing in your windowsill?