Growing a medicinal garden is not only a great hobby, but it can also provide a range of benefits to health and wellness. Medicinal plants contain natural compounds that have healing properties, making it easy to access affordable and effective remedies. If you’re interested in starting a medicinal garden, it’s important to understand what herbs to grow and how to take care of them properly. Let’s explore some helpful tips for starting a medicinal garden.
Understanding Healing Herbs
Before starting a medicinal garden, it’s important to first understand what healing herbs actually are. These plants contain natural compounds that have medicinal properties and can be used to treat various ailments. It’s also important to know how to use these herbs safely and effectively. A basic understanding of the 5 categories of healing herbs can help you choose which ones to grow in your garden.
- Relaxant Herbs – These herbs help to calm and soothe the body and reduce stress and anxiety. Examples are Lavender, Chamomile, and Passionflower.
- Stimulating Herbs – These herbs stimulate and invigorate the body, and are often used to improve digestion and circulation. Examples are Ginger, Cayenne, and Garlic.
- Nervine Herbs – These herbs calm the mind and support the nervous system. Examples are Ginseng, Valerian Root, and Skullcap.
- Tonic Herbs – These herbs are used to support overall health and can be used for general preventative care. Examples are Astragalus, Dandelion, and Burdock Root.
- Adaptogenic Herbs – These herbs help the body adapt to stress, improve immunity, and restore balance in the body. Examples are Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Holy Basil.
Preparing for a Medicinal Garden
Before starting your medicinal garden, you need to choose a location where your plants will receive plenty of sunlight every day. Selecting the right plants is also essential, research and carefully study each plant’s needs, including water and sunlight requirements. Ensure that the soil is fertile, rich, and well-draining, this makes it easier for plants to absorb nutrients. The ideal soil pH range is 6-7. Proper tools are also essential for maintaining your garden. You’ll need a hoe or rake, pruners, garden gloves, a watering can or hose, and a compost bin.
Popular Healing Herbs
Peppermint: contains menthol which has a calming effect and may aid digestion. Echinacea: known to enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and may fight off infections. Lavender: can help alleviate anxiety and sleep disorders. Sage: has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and may ease inflammation and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Chamomile: treats anxiety, insomnia, and digestive disorders.
Each herb may have its own specific growing requirements, such as full sun or partial shade, moist or dry soil, which should be researched before planting.
Creative Ways to Use Healing Herbs
- Herbal tea: One of the most popular and simple ways of using herbs is in the form of tea. Take a cup of boiling water and add a teaspoon of dried or fresh herbs that produce the desired effect, let it steep for about 5-10 minutes.
- Balms and salves: Herbs can be infused in carrier oils and beeswax to create balms and salves that can be applied topically. These can be used to relieve sore muscles and skin irritations.
- Poultices or compresses: Can be made by blending, crushing, or chopping fresh herb leaves or roots, and applying them on the affected area. Poultices typically work for injuries or inflamed areas on the skin or external muscles.
- Tinctures and extracts: Tinctures or extracts are simply infusions of herbs in alcohol or vinegar. These can be used orally or topically to treat symptoms.
- Culinary uses: Many herbs make great flavoring agents and can be used to add flavor to various dishes.
Tips for Harvesting and Storing Healing Herbs
Knowing when to harvest- lends freshness to the herbs. Harvest your herbs at their peak, usually in the morning, when the essential oils are at their highest concentrations. Proper methods of harvesting can also help preserve the potency of the herbs.
Storing and preserving herbs- Keep your herbs in a cool, dark, and dry place to prevent spoilage and preserve their potency. Hanging them upside down to dry or refrigerating herbs keeps them fresh and can extend their life.