Useful Herbs For Good Health, Good Food, Good Profit
Whenever there is a demand for any product, there is always that opportunity to make money. Just like the many useful herbs that are increasingly being used for culinary purposes as well as for their medicinal benefits. Some make excellent tea. Many of them are also used in beauty products
And so collecting and growing such useful herbs can be rewarding. Growing them organically will even make them more enticing to the health conscious. One can grow them for personal use only, or for giving them away as special gifts to friends and relatives. Of course, they can also be grown commercially so they can be made available for sale to the general public at a reasonable price. They could be processed into virtually endless products of commerce.
One lady who has been collecting a lot of culinary and medicinal herbs is Mrs. Adela Ang who has a big propagation area in Antipolo City and a showcase at the Manila Seedling Bank compound in Quezon City. She has high-tech facilities for rooting cuttings as well as germinating seeds, using sterilized growing media.
GOTO KOLA. One of her favorites which she is multiplying in really big numbers is Centella asiatica, otherwise known as Goto Kola. This is a stemless herb with roundish,,heart-shaped leaves. Although there are strains grown earlier in Thailand and in the Philippines, the latest that Adela is multiplying is from India.
The extract from Centella asiatica is made into a popular juice drink in Thailand. Considered as a health tonic, it is a favorite of a friend of ours, Ray Ong. One of the first things he looks for whenever he goes to Thailand is the green juice in a bottle available in many roadside stalls.
In the Philippines, the Goto Kola is claimed to have cured some serious ailments. One sufferer of arthritis is our friend Butch Tanco. For many years, he suffered from leg ailment which made it difficult for him to walk. He is said to have traveled around the world looking for a cure for his ailment, only to finally find it in the Philippines. After religiously taking fresh leaves of Goto Kola, he can now walk normally without the aid of a cane.
Some people now regularly eat a couple of fresh leaves of Goto Kola in the morning as their ritual for good health. We are included among them.
STEVIA. This is another herb that excites some people. The fresh leaves are sweet and are a delight to chew. The leaves could be used to sweeten coffee or tea. That’s good for those who are dieting because Stevia is claimed to contain no calories. The leaves can be dried and used in drinks, preserves, breads and diet foods. It is also considered a very good tonic with lots of health benefits.
LAVENDER. This is another favorite of Adela Ang who grows it in really big numbers. There are several kinds of lavender which ate prized for their soothing perfume. Their dried flowers, cut stalks and leaves are used in lavender bags and potpourri. Tea is also made from the flowers and leaves and is claimed to be effective against headaches and insomnia. There is the English lavender, the true lavender, and there is also the French lavender. Both have the same uses. The difference is that the French lavender has gray leaves. It also produces mauve flowers continuously.
BASIL. Basil is a favorite culinary herb that imparts special flavor to various dishes of fish, vegetables, chicken and egg. It is also used to make a special basil vinegar. There are several kinds of basil, including Sweet Basil, Greek Basil, Licorice Basil, and Lemon Basil.
MINTS. There are several kinds of mint which include Apple Mint, Eaude-Cologne Mint, Pennyroyal Mint. Peppermint, Chocolate Mint, Japanese Menthol Mint, and Vietnamese Mint. They are used to add flavor to a lot of meat dishes, salads, cakes, drinks and jellies. Crushed leaves are also rubbed on the skin to repel mosquitoes. When planted beside other plants, like roses. they are said to drive away aphids that attack the roses.
GERANIUM. This is better known in the Philippines as Malvarosa and is prized for its delightful smell. Actually there are at least nine Geraniums with special scents. These include the RoseScented Geranium, the Lemon-Scented Geranium, Peppermint Geranium, Coconut Geranium, Nutmeg Geranium, Apple-Scented Geranium, Lime-Scented Geranium, Orange Geranium and Carrot Geranium. As their names suggest, they come in different fragrances. They are used in fragrant sachets and potpourri, cakes and jellies,
There are many other useful herbs for culinary, wellness, medicinal and other purposes. These include dill, fennel, lemongrass, lemon balm, anise caraway, parsley, chives, chamomile, lovage, marjoram, rosemary, sage, tarragon, laurel, oregano, verbena, and many others. We could also add the curry tree, anise tree, the local langkawas ginger, the purple Perilla used in Japanese sushi, Gynura nepalensis and others.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW. As more and more people are interested in these herbs with multiple uses, people should learn_ to master the multiplication of the same. Propagation and proper cultural practices should be disseminated.
Those interested to make a business out of these herbs should try to have as complete a collection as possible of the different varieties. These should include indigenous herbs traditionally used by our forebears.
There should be continuing research not only on their propagation but also on their usage. More people should learn to make use of these wonderful herbs in their cooking and other food preparations.
More garden clubs and similar organizations should conduct lectures and demonstrations regarding various aspects of growing herbs and how to utilize them.
Schools, both private and public, collegiate and otherwise, should have their own herb gardens so the students can be familiarized, with the plants and their uses.
MONEY-MAKING POTENTIAL. For the enterprising gardeners, including housewives who stay at home most of the time, growing herbs can be a good source of additional income. The beauty about these herbs is that they can be grown in the home garden. Almost all of them can be ideally grown in pots and other containers. They don’t require vast spaces.
Of course, serious producers can grow them in large scale and treat their production and marketing as an honest-to-goodness business undertaking. One could come up with various specialty products that could be marketed not only locally but also abroad.