Why You Should Prep An Herb Garden For Your College-Bound Teen

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Have you ever considered that one way to mitigate your college-bound teen's anxiety is through an herb garden that they can keep in their dorm room? Think about it — it's no secret that the first few months or more in college can be rough on a teenager's mental wellness, least of all for parents watching their kids leave home for new horizons that are exciting, but scary. Up to two-thirds of college kids report feeling lonely, especially post-pandemic where almost half of the students who were tested for levels of emotional well-being were flagged as struggling with depression, says a recent study from Boston University as reported by The Brink.

These are Gen-Z kids (born after 1996), who tend to view fresh food and healthy eating habits as fundamentally connected to their mental wellness, says Fitt Insider. Show your support for these positive habits by gifting your college kid their own indoor herb garden. They can use the herbs to add a meaningfully fresh boost to their school meal plan or mid-day workout water bottle. Even the scents can improve their mood and help with anxiety. With the multi-faceted nature of mental wellness, there are few dependable ways to deliver a small but mighty impact. Keep reading to learn which helpful herbs your college teen can actually sustain in as small a space as their first-year dorm.

Everything is better with herbs

This is the generation that carries their favorite almond butter down to the dining hall, so encouraging them to snip a little basil, thyme, or rosemary to sprinkle into their salad or a sandwich is not the stretch it once may have been. In fact, some schools are catching on to the benefits of offering fresh herbs, like Shepherd University, which stocks sage, oregano, curry, and more for students. For students elsewhere, having a growing herb garden prepped with love from home gives them the chance to enhance their meals with fresh herbs rather than dried. 

Herbs are terrific for infusing into drinks as well, like a simple water bottle given an added boost with fresh mint. Mint in particular is a super herb that can curb an oncoming migraine and boost your energy if you are feeling lethargic, says One Green Planet. It is also handy to grab a sprig of mint to chew before heading out with friends for freshening your breath. Cilantro is believed to have a similar effect as well, plus it is also known to put a little pep in your step.

Dorm room herb garden growing basics

At this point, you may be wondering how difficult an herb garden is to grow and maintain. Not hard at all, The Herb Cottage assures us. Rosemary, for instance, is a good choice since it doesn't drop any leaves from its core growth shoot. The same is true of lemongrass, a great herb to add to rice. Lemongrass can also be hard to come by at your local grocery store, so fresh is best. Chives are a particularly easy herb that can manage with very little light and even chillier season changes, says Grow A Good Life. If you decide to grow common chives (Allium schoenoprasum), they'll give your college kid a pretty — and edible!– purple bloom in the spring. If you go with a garlic chive (Allium tuberosum) instead, the white bloom will appear around mid-summer.

You'll want to start your student off with a pot or container that can fit on a windowsill or nearby shelf to garner at least occasional direct sunlight. A beginner set like this can ease students into a trial and error growing test over the summer before college, with some advice that yellowing leaves might be a sign of too little water and mildew might mean too much. After they've mastered growing herbs, they can try their hand at succulents, which reportedly help diminish sickness, improve memory, and decrease fatigue, says Red. College students and parents alike will take every mental energy boost they can get.