Our Gardens are where a lot of our summer hours are spent. Many evenings, tending to the garden is a family event. We have both always grown the normal veggies; tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc with a small herb garden for food seasoning and teas. The past 2 years we have expanded our herb gardens which originally consisted mostly of lavender, eucalyptus, mints and lemon balm. Constantly adding a wider variety has been a goal; chamomile calendula, comfrey and Echinacea to name a few. This year we have the largest area yet for our organic herbs with plans to start another expansion in the fall!
All the herbs we plant have multiple purposes, from herbal remedies to simply beautiful flowers and interesting foliage. Several include attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects to the garden. This is important to us! Not all flowers are harvested off a single plant, this way the animals we do attract always have a supply of what attracts them. Herbs like comfrey can actually be cut back several times a season and used for a nutrient rich green mulch for your garden and flower beds. We believe the best way to grow is organic, avoiding toxins to treat pests and aid in growth. Those toxins also have harmful side effects on us. Not only is this better for our families and ultimately the products we make for other families but it is better for the wildlife also!
A few herbs will be cut and used immediately in the house, for teas or salves if necessary, but many will be dried on a homemade screen (constructed from screen at the hardware store, dowel rods and eye hooks), hung from the ceiling and saved for later. Once they are dry, they will be stored in glass jars with tight sealing lids, in a cabinet to protect them from sitting in the sun. We don’t want essential oils and herbs sitting directly in sunlight. I , personally, like to freeze a few herbs. I find that mint for tea seems to have more flavor then dried mint for tea. I just cut pieces of mint, rinse and dry them, place them on a freezer sheet and freeze individually. Once frozen you can put them in one freezer safe container together for easy use over the winter.
If just starting your own herb garden, chamomile and Lavender are favorites, both are rather versatile. Lavender is often referred to as the “swiss army knife of herbal care”. They are great in a tea for bedtime or just to help ease tension midday. Even the kids enjoy it. Sometimes we adjust a little raw local honey or agave nectar for sweetening. Lavender also works well in lemonade. They are known for having a comforting effect on skin, so they are popular for bath & body products. Chamomile and lavender are both used in our Sleepy Sheepy Bedtime Balm! They may help to promote a natural restful sleep. They both have an overall pleasant and relaxing aroma. Both are harvested by trimming the blooms. Lavender has a purple lower and chamomile has a dainty white flower. The ferny airy foliage of the chamomile is an added bonus in my opinion.
Eucalyptus has always been among the herbs I grow. I like to trim a few sprigs, tie them with a string and hang them in the shower. The aroma is wonderful any time of year but can be really useful in the winter months to help promote healthy respiratory function. Eucalyptus does not produce flowers but has a unique leaf that is equally attractive to add to any flower arrangement from the garden.
Herbs can be a wonderful addition to your garden! You my only want a few favorites for flavoring food. Maybe you want to research herbal first aid, as it is making a comeback, and plan an herb garden around that. You can find some great information and even salve recipes to try online, just be sure you are looking on a reputable site. A lot of herbs have pretty flowers or foliage with an amazing scent and work wonderful in flower arrangements for your home. If you have some extra space and want to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other beneficial insects you could plant an area of Echinacea (coneflower), Lavender and Thyme. No matter what purpose you choose , take the time to enjoy what you plant!
Many herbs are rather easy to grow. In our area, we can purchase seed packets or wait for started plants in the spring at our local greenhouse. We will have a small selection of dried herbs available later this year. If you are local and looking for oe fresh herbs, message us, we may have what you are looking for.
We hope your summer is going fabulous!