In days gone by, gardens full of vegetables, herbs, and flowers were common place and existed as part of the landscape of the home. Many of these gardens were designed to include a section dedicated to medicinal herbs and healing plants of all kinds. Tending the garden meant producing one’s own food and medicine — it meant learning the rhythms of the seasons. It was a link between humanity and nature. Digging up a small area in the yard – or filling a few pots on the patio – and planting medicinal herbs can be revolutionary in helping us to remain connected. This year, while planning your food gardens, consider adding some plants that can also be used as medicine. I know, I know, it's more fun to think of spring and all its loveliness, but with the current health care issues, it's helpful to remember that winter and sickness always rolls around again. Adding medicinal plants to your garden might be the best insurance.
Design The design for your garden can include a simple raised bed devoted to medicinal herbs or feel free to add them directly to your landscape. For example, yarrow, echinacea, and Valerian are just beautiful when included in an existing flower bed. Many medicinal plants make excellent companions to veggies and can be added to the corners of the vegetable garden. Plants such as thyme, basil, and calendula are perfect for this purpose.
A great idea for garden design involves the use of a ladder or wagon wheel. Lay an old wooden ladder or wagon wheel over well-prepared soil…plant a single type of herb in each rung. This simple and popular design is lovely, makes weeding easy, and allows the plants to grow fully.”
These plants are perfect for raised beds or the ladder/wagon wheel design:
- all the plants listed above
Herbs don’t require super rich soil; however, as any gardener knows, good soil is prized. Remember your soil is what nourishes your plants and the plants your body…so be good to it. Feel free to amend the soil of your medicinal herb garden with compost and aged manure. Whatever you do, make sure that it’s organic.
When planning your medicinal garden deciding whether to start plants form seeds or seedling comes down to cost and availability. Seeds are definitely the most economic way to go. I’ve only purchased strictly medicinal seeds from Direct Sow Seeds at Burpee.com! Plant now Directly into Your Garden. However, the cons to starting herbs from seed is the slow germination rate. It can often take herbs 2-3 weeks just to start emerging from the ground. As for seedlings, they do cost more up front, but this means your herbs will be ready to harvest sooner. The downside is good, organic medicinal seedlings are often hard to find. Try this site for unusual plants.
And when considering what to grow healing plants in, the following tolerate pot culture and should
grow well in a variety of containers:
- cayenne pepper
- lemon balm
- any type of mint
- St. John’s wort
By starting your own medicinal herb garden this growing season you are taking one more step toward empowering yourself to treat symptoms of the common cold, little skin irritations, a few chronic conditions, and minor bumps and bruises. Imagine your friends’ and family’s surprise when you tell them you grew it and made it yourself!