Lemongrass, tumeric, aloe and spearmint are all herbs that are easily grown in Florida. Lemongrass tastes great with a chicken dish, aloe makes for a delicious juice, tumeric enhances a stir fry and spearmint adds flavor to a tea.
Great taste aside, these perennial herbs also have medicinal virtues.
“Lemongrass is good for digestion,” said Cathy Via, the owner of Cathy’s Herbs and Botanicals in Naples, a shop that offers a variety of herbal teas and herbal tea consultations, along with an online shopping option. Lemongrass is also good for muscle pain, achy joints, and can be used as a mild astringent.
“Tumeric has immense healing properties,” Via added. The herb can assist with ailments such as arthritis, intestinal problems and even inflammatory skin conditions. Furthermore, studies have suggested that turmeric and its active agent, curcumin, have anti-inflammatory and disease preventative benefits.
“Aloe, or aloe vera, has healing properties inside and out, “said Via. The herb has long been known as a helpful herb for many skin conditions, such as psoriasis and dandruff, as well as for minor burns and skin abrasions. When taken orally, aloe has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and even cholesterol.
“Spearmint is helpful for digestion,” said Via who explained that it’s also helpful during flu season for sore throats and headaches.
These healthy herbs are all easy-to-grow in Central Florida. Lemongrass requires warm, humid conditions, full sunlight and plenty of moisture.
Tumeric starts easily with root cuttings and needs full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Aloe thrives in poor soil, requires very little water and loves full sun. Spearmint also enjoys the Florida sun and hot and humid weather. Since the spearmint spreads rapidly via long runners, containers are sometimes preferred for planting over a garden.
For those who prefer to purchase herbs over growing them, 4 Bees Herb Farm in Sarasota offers a wide variety of potted herbs, such as burdock, chamomile, echinacea and pineapple sage, in addition to lemongrass, tumeric, aloe and spearmint. The farm also sells local honey, certified organic dried medicinal herbs , herbal teas and other health-oriented items, such as salves & balms, bee pollen & royal jelly, herbal soaps and herb books.
Local nurseries also offer a selection of herbs, especially the more common types, such as fennel, dill, ginger and catnip. Agrilicious has a listing of where herbs and extracts can be purchased locally: http://www.agrilicious.org/local
No longer are herbs considered a folk remedy and not taken seriously. According to studies, 20 percent of adults use a daily dietary supplement that contains one or more botanical ingredients.
The market for herbs is growing by three or four percent each year. Some forecasters predict that globally, the market for herbal supplements and remedies may reach $107 billion by 2017. This increase is likely due to the growing aging population and the growing consumer awareness about good health and well being. While many may want to consider adding herbs to their garden, or creating an herb garden, for those that are interested in growing herbs commercially, UF/IFAS offers information on their site for Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises: http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu/crops/Herbs/index.html
Entrepreneur also provides a helpful link about starting and herb farm: http://www.entrepreneur.com/businessideas/herb-farm
For More Information:
Cathy’s Herbs and Botanicals
281 9th St S
Naples Fl 34102
4 Bees Herb Farm
16371 Jomar Rd., Sarasota
(941) 322-2446 http://4beesherbfarm.com/