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Home-grown herbs are healthy and inexpensive, a lot healthier at a lot less expensive than the fresh herbs you can buy at the supermarket.
Most herbs begin to lose their antioxidant capacity, using it to fight the stress of having been cut, as soon as the first 60 minutes after they have been gathered. If you snip your own herbs as you need them from your own living plants, you will get herbs at the peak of their nutritional potential.
I grow all of these herbs myself in a particularly hot climate. I spend about three minutes a day watering them, and as long as I don't mind sharing my herbs with the occasional gourmet-minded squirrel that finds its way to my deck, I get a constant supply of all the fresh herbs I need. Here are my personal top ten and how to grow them.
Basil is basic to making pesto. It's also great in pasta or rice, and as a distinctive flavoring for many kinds of meat. The herb is mildly antiviral and antibacterial. It won't cure the plague but it probably helps you fight infections. But because basil oxidizes quickly after it is cut, it is much better to cut your own basil from your own plant at the last minute so it stays green for the table.
Basil grows up to about 3 feet (a meter) tall even in a modest-sized pot. It is killed by frost but easy to reseed. Pick off flowers to send the plant's energy into its edible leaves.
Parsley isn't especially expensive, and good quality parsley is usually available in the market. The advantage of having your own plants at home is that you don't have to worry about your parsley drying up in the refrigerator. Just a trim a little off your own parsley plant when you need it.
Parsley attracts monarch butterflies. You'll have to share your parsley with a colorful caterpillar to provide a home for monarchs, but it is a small price to pay for the beautiful sight when the butterfly emerges.
A milder alternative to onions and garlic, scallions are pricey in the supermarket. You can grow your own crop of these pungent purple bulbs in a pot in a sunny place. Just remember to plant in the fall for harvest in the spring. Scallions are sensitive to length of day, and don't grow well when planted out of season.