Whether it’s a garden box in your window, a large planter on your back porch, a guerrilla-style takeover of the grassy patches alongside your sidewalk, or a half-acre backyard garden, Vermont style, it’s time to start plotting out what herbs to throw in next to your tomato plants this summer.
Growing your own home remedies is fun, your kids will love it, your friends will be impressed and you can call yourself an herbalist! Who can resist? Remember always check with your physician before beginning a new regimen (especially if you're on medication).
Echinacea – Great for boosting the immune system and a beautiful garden flower!
The flowers and roots are harvested and dried for tea or steeped in alcohol to make a tincture.
Lemon Balm – The leaves can be harvested all summer. A great antiviral, stress soother, and yummy in after-dinner teas to improve digestion. Perfect for homemade sun tea.
Goldenseal – A powerful herb to have in the garden: a natural antibiotic and infection fighter. Goldenseal is an endangered medicinal plant, and needs to be planted and propagated.
Nettles – Rich in vitamins and minerals, great for making tea and cooking with and a wild plant to have around. Build a small box for your nettles so they don’t take over the yard. Always wear gloves when harvesting the green leaves.
Peppermint – One of the best tummy tamers, effective for gas and nausea. A favorite with the kids and harvestable all summer long. It makes a refreshing iced tea.
Chamomile – Sweet and gentle, great for upset stomach and calming the nerves. One of the best herbs for children.
Red Clover – Rich in vitamins and minerals, great for the lymphatic system and gently detoxifying. I love to eat the flowers right off the stems – what a treat!
Elderberry – Plant an elderberry bush or two for the birds if not for yourself! One of the best medicines to have in your apothecary, it’s a strong antiviral, rich in antioxidants and is excellent for keeping away colds and the flu.
Comfrey – A must have for making poultices for sprains and broken bones. The leaves are also a good addition for a healthy compost pile and the bees are crazy for the little comfrey flowers.
Calendula – A queen healer of the herb garden and a beautiful summer flower that keeps on flowering into the fall. It’s healing for the skin and a must have for homemade salves, oils and facial steams.
Burdock – A gentle tonic herb with lots of traditional uses. It’s very good for the skin and liver and can be enjoyed in stir-fries, soups and salads and well as tea and tincture.
Valerian – A perfect ally for those suffering from stress, tension and other nervous system disorders, and a gorgeous plant to have around with its long stems and delicate white flowers. Another winner for the bees!
If you’re not ready to move to the country, start an herb farm, fight for the bees and plant endangered species, then pick one or two herbs that spark your interest and go from there. I promise it will be fun!