Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, you’ll find this information useful. Let’s dig in the dirt and start talking plants?
- Dill. Dill is one of my most favorite herbs to grow. Dill can be a perennial or annual herb, depending on where it is cultivated in the world. This herb is used in almost every continent on the planet in some capacity, and although it is called many different things, it serves similar purposes in much of the world cuisine. It can be used dry as a topping for a number of meals, but it is also used as an ingredient in many meals. For those herbalists that want to grow their own dill, it is important to cultivate this herb in warm to hot summers, with plenty of sunshine.
Dill is easy to grow, you do have to show patience for the tiny, intensely green seedlings to show up. Sow from seed in the early summer, as soon as possible in your area. Dill does not take to transplanting at all. Dill is a graceful, striking plant that grows up to 3 ft in height, with feathery leaves and flat umbels of aromatic yellow flowers, very much like fennel, until you smell it. Just smelling the plant can make your mouth water! It is a hardy annual that will sometimes self seed if left undisturbed, (my favorite way to propagate it). Prefers well drained, slightly acidic soil, and full sun. Plant will reach heights of 3 ft. Harvest seeds when flower heads are mature and starting to brown. Take care in handling to prevent seed loss. Hang in a brown paper bag to catch seeds as they dry, store in airtight canisters.
Dill is great for indigestion, excess gas, insomnia, bone health, diabetes, boosts the immune system, diarrhea, hiccups, arthritis, menstrual disorders, respiratory disorders, oral care, and even cancer.
- Basil. I am in love with basil. If I could marry this plant, I would. The scent, the way it lingers on your hand after you pick it. It is just intoxicating.
When growing basil Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist). Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer. After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off. If the weather is going to be cold, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.
Basil is great for healing fevers, coughs, sore throats, respiratory issues, kidney stones, heart problems, stress, is kid friendly, too!
- Sage. This is another big favorite of mine. I’m known to always have a sage leaf in my pocket. Whenever I walk by my sage garden, I pick a leaf and play with it. Sage makes me feel so zen-like that not even my ex mother in law will put a damper on my day.
You can certainly start your sage garden from seed (and I have) but it is much easier to start a sage plant from a cutting. When I root a sage cutting, I just use a glass of water until the little root fibers begin to show, then I plant them in moist potting soil to establish their roots. Be sure to water the young plants regularly until they are fully grown so that they don’t dry out. Prune the heavier, woody stems every spring. It’s best to replace the plants every 4 to 5 years to ensure the best quality.
Sage is great for the treatment of night sweats, excessive salivation (as in Parkinson’s disease), profuse perspiration (as in TB), anxiety and depression. Externally, it is used to treat insect bites, skin, throat, mouth and gum infections and vaginal discharge.
- Lavender. Lavender has become so popular with essential oils, but did you know that growing your own lavender can be just as calming as using the oil itself?
Lavender loves lime, loose soil, excellent drainage, and sun, and it can be planted in the spring after the weather has warmed. (I’ve grown it from seed without a lot of fuss; it blooms by the third year.) In areas of the country that have acid soil, lavender-loving gardeners may have to make some adjustments, beginning with a simple pH test. To provide the near-neutral soil that lavender needs a little limestone and composting. (Or grow it in pots!)
A number of studies have reported that lavender essential oil may be beneficial in a variety of conditions, including insomnia, alopecia (hair loss), anxiety, stress, and postoperative pain. However, most of these studies have been small. Lavender is also being studied for antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lavender oil is often used in other forms of integrative medicine, such as massage and acupuncture.
- Mint. Mint is quite the invasive little plant if you just plop mint in your garden. It will take over everything and be sprouting up between your toes when you aren’t looking. To avoid this, keep mint planted in pots, whiskey barrels, or create a barrier so that the tiny roots hang out where they are supposed to. Those crawling roots will have you pulling out your hair if you don’t.
As mint flowers, cut for bouquets, use in tea, or do something clever with them, because all those little seeds will be everywhere. Mint is very prolific and will grow under almost any condition.
Mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food. Mint is great for allergies, breast feeding, colds, indigestion, IBS, pain relief, mouth ulcers, and stomach ulcers.
- Lemon Balm. Lemon balm is a plant my family gets personal with. We should name our lemon balm plants because we are always walking by and petting them, releasing the lemony aroma that makes everyone just happy. Lemon balm is a like a plant of sunshine.
Lemon balm should be grown a lot like mint. Keep those roots in pots, barrels, or have a deep barrier. They do well in either full sun or partial. I have lemon balm in several different places scattered around my little homestead. They are happy little plants almost everywhere.
Lemon balm is great for anxiety, relaxing, stress, and headaches. Because it is also cooling, it makes a great addition to your iced tea on summer afternoons.
- Oregano. Oregano should also be grown in pots or have a root barrier. Treat it exactly like mint or lemon balm.
Inhibiting the growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which may cause respiratory infections, makes oregano a sure win in your home and garden. It may also fight multi-drug resistant bacteria. There is even a study that proved oregano effective against MRSA.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), because it inhibits the growth of E. Coli, Proteus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, bacteria that may cause UTIs.
Yeast infections, including those that are resistant to the commonly used drug Diflucan.
Parasitic infections. Oregano oil has been shown to be more effective against the parasitic amoeba Giardia than the drug tinidazol.
Food-borne illness. Many food-borne pathogens, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. Coli, and Shigella dysenteria are inhibited by oregano oil. Not only may adding the oil to foods help to kill such bacteria, but using the oil if you have food poisoning may help to alleviate your symptoms.
Topically for athlete’s foot or nail fungus. Try soaking your feet in a basin of water with a few teaspoons of oil, or rubbing the diluted oil (1 drop of oil in a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil) on your nails/skin.
Inhaled to treat sinus infections or colds. Simply put a few drops of oregano oil in a pot of steaming water. Carefully inhale the steam, being careful not to get burned.
Under your tongue to help treat infections or parasites.
- Parsley. Parsley is such an underappreciated herb! It’s always used as garnish, but parsley packs a huge punch in the remedy department.
Parsley is a biennial, but is grown as an annual in areas with harsh winters. It is good to start new plants from seed each year in any case, and not depend on the second year growth for all your needs. Germination is slow, but can be hastened by soaking the seeds for 24 hours before sowing. Give your plants plenty of sun, and frequent water, don’t let them dry out.
Parsley is a great tonic for wellbeing. It is such a huge source of Vitamin C, it makes parsley a rockstar. Great for your heart, arthritis, and any kind of inflammation of any kind.
- Garlic. Yes! You can grow garlic! (And it will keep bugs off your roses if you plant them nearby.)
Garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Plant in the fall and you’ll find that your bulbs are bigger and more flavorful when you harvest the next summer. In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant. Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove. Plant cloves about one month before the ground freezes. Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery. Ensure soil is well-drained with plenty of organic matter. Select a sunny spot. Place cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in their upright position (the wide root side facing down and pointed end facing up). In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.
Garlic is another tonic herb because it’s reach is so far that it is even a cancer preventative. It is anti bacterial, anti viral, great for inflammation, helps blood sugar, and is also anti parasitic. Using garlic medicinally can absolutely make an impact on your health.
- Dandelions. Ok…. So maybe you aren’t crazy like me and have a dandelion garden bed, but at least maybe this will help you see the benefits of this incredible plant. When taken care of, and not sprayed with herbicides, dandelions are an incredible addition to your medicinal garden.
Growing dandelions is kind of easy. They grow anywhere. Everywhere. And then they grow some more. I hope this next bit of information helps you see them as medicine and not as a nuisance.
Dandelion contains compounds which increase the livers production of bile, the body’s own natural laxative! With regular use people make more regular visits to the toilet which is a nature’s way of detoxing.
Dandelion contains sugars which act as diuretics, that is they increase the kidneys production of urine. Increased urination means reduced fluid in the tissues. For most woman water retention is cyclical. Dandelion can be used to reduce cycle based bloating.
Energize the Weary
If you feel run down, tired, and lethargic all the time and for no good reason, dandelion may be the tonic for you. It stimulates the liver which results in increased energy levels. Herbalists find it gives an energy boost to those that find their get up and go has gone for no apparent reason.