While planting my garden, along with my vegetables I typically put in a some easy to grow herbs. Not only as wonderful medicinals, but also as companions to my vegetables. They help to keep harmful insects at bay while helping my vegetable flourish by attracting helpful insects and birds. The key is to let a few of the herbs to bolt and go to flower. Not only do I get the benefits of an herbal garden but my vegetables benefit as well.
In my garden, amongst the vegies, I planted Echinacea. A terrific immune booster. Echinacea has been planted as an ornamental for over 200 years for it’s lovely Purple Coneflower. Echinacea does well in well drained soil and can tolerate partial shade. It does well on the end of my garden that gets shaded in the afternoon. Most references suggest using the root of the plant for medicinal use, but I tend to use the flower in a tea. I will pour boiling water over a few fresh, or dried echinacea flowers and let it steep for about 10 minutes. It can also be used as a tincture, using the entire plant, mixed with grain alcohol and water in a 2 to 1 ratio. Let it sit for a minimum of 2 weeks.
Lemon Balm is a Bee favorite. This herb is a perennial and tends to be invasive, so I like to put it in a large pot and put it in a shady corner of the garden. This allows me to tend and till the garden without worry. Lemon balm has been shown to be a natural fungicide and anti-bacterial, and is widely used to relieve spasms related to headaches and cramps. Lemon balm tea is a favorite of mine to relieve anxiety. Just pour hot water over the leaves. Adding the leaves to a fresh garden salad adds a nice fresheness. Make sure you let a few plants go to flower, as the bees love it, and your vegetables love the bees.
Chamomile is another herb I plant along the perimeter of my garden. A nice cup of chamomile tea can be taken as a digestive or to help you relax. Chamomile loves full sun with well drained soil. This mainstay of traditional chinese medicine has white daisy like petals with a yellow ball sitting proudly in the middle. Chamomile has a reputation as a good plant buddy buy healng nearby “sick” plants.
If you prefer a cold tea, by all means, after steeping the herb in hot water let it cool and add Ice. Delicious