What is in Your Herb Garden?

Herbs are perhaps one of my favorite plants to grow. They are easy, useful, and beautiful. They make the perfect addition to any flower bed or vegetable garden.

I use fresh and dried herbs in many of the soaps, lotions, and salves that I make.  When any of us cook here we use very little salt and flavor with our herbs. It makes the need for salt so much less and the food taste so much better. I also make herbal teas and herbal tea jellies from them as well.

What are your favorite herbs to grow?

I currently have the following growing:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • 3 different kinds of mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Lemon Grass
  • Bee Balm

Right now things are still in pots, in the greenhouse or have actually made it to the herb garden. We have so many projects going on at one time that it is just plain crazy here some days. I am very proud of the fact that I was able to start most from seed instead of buying plants. For the first time I have actually grown lavender and rosemary from seed. I think having the little greenhouse is the key to that.

If you don’t have a greenhouse or are a beginner with growing herbs I recommend purchasing plants or herb growing kits.  The beauty of herbs is that they do not have to take up a lot of space and they will grow in most well drained soil. I have successfully grown them as container plants, window sill gardens, and in the soil.

The amount of sunlight needed varies between plants but I have noticed over the years that if you plant the larger plants to the back of your garden and then move forward to your smaller and annual plants you have much more success. They definitely need to have water, the soil should always at least feel damp to the touch. A nice rich compost mulched around the base of the plants ensures proper nutrients and moisture.

Enjoy your herbs, one of the most versatile plants on earth.

Light, Love, and Peace

Tammy ~SSM~

Switching to Infused Oils

I have been doing research on essential oils vs infused oils a lot lately. I have come across several websites, one in particular that has inspired me, that explain the difference. There is also the cost involved in obtaining either one. I primarily use them when I am making homemade soaps, lotions, and other similar products. I have used some in medicinal products I have made for my family.

Why am I switching over?

There is not enough information on the long term use of essential oils. They are highly concentrated oils extracted by distillation. It is always recommended to dilute them for topical use and not to take them internally. They are often preferred because of their concentrated aroma. I have noticed that the soaps and lotions that I market do better if they have a strong scent. However, I am willing to forgo the strong scents for a gentle scent and a safer product.

There is also the issue of sustainability. It takes so much more  plant matter to create essential oils that over harvesting of plants takes place. Wildwood Apothecary has an excellent article regarding why she is EO free and what it takes to make EO. There are plenty of other articles around the net as well that explain this very well, such as the one over at Evolutionary Herbalism.

So what is going to happen?

Well it means that I need to grow more of my own herbs and flowers and other useful plants. Such as chore, you know. Then I will start producing more of my own infused oils. The cold process takes 4 to 6 weeks to produce. For a faster result and a little more aroma I will also be doing a hot process which only takes about an hour but has the same shelf life.

As for the investment in EO, I cannot stand waste. I will continue to use these oils in things until the run out. They will be replaced with the items that I make. I am hoping to eventually offer my own line of Enchanted Infused Oils on my etsy shop.

Light, Love and Peace

Tammy ~SSM~

The Incredible Rosemary


Common Name
Standardized: rosemary

Latin name: Rosemarinus officinalis

Plant Family:
Lamiaceae (mint)

Overview

This is a woody, perennial plant with a 2 year life span, or so I have heard, mine typically live for several years. It is native to the Mediterranean and a member of the mint family.
It is a fragrant addition to your herb garden. It looks like an evergreen with small pointed leaves, that look like spines. It needs well composted, draining soil and mulching if overwintered outside. It produces small white or blue flowers in the summer.
This is a great addition to food like pork, lamb, game, poultry, and fish. It has medicinal properties as well and can be used in skin care products as well. It is a good source of iron, calcium and Vitamin B-6.

Cultivation and Harvesting

It is a wood plant that can be grown from seed but does best as cuttings. It enjoys growing in containers as well as out in the garden. Containers can be brought in during cold weather, however, rosemary does not like to be transplanted.
Typically just the leaves are harvested throughout the growing season. Some have been known to harvest the stems to use as skewers for kabobs. The leaves can be dried and stored for use later on. I will cut what I feel I need for drying and hang upside down over a screen.

Common Uses:

  • Dried
    • Seasoning food
    • Teas
    • Soaps
    • Salves
  • Fresh
    • Seasoning food
    • Air Fresheners
    • Infused to oils, butters, etc

Medicinal Uses:

  • Relief from anxiety
  • Indigestion
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Cold and flu
  • Poor circulation
  • Skin Care
  • Oral Health

Disclaimer:

Should not be used by pregnant women except in cooking.
Always consult with a qualified healthcare practioner before using herbal products. If you are pregnant, nursing or have medical conditions and are on prescribed medications this is essential.
This information is for educational purposes only not to be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. None of this information has been evaluated by the FDA.

Calendula Flowers

Common Name

Standardized: calendula
Other: marigold, pot marigold

Latin name

Calendula officinalis L.
Plant Family: 
Asteraceae

Overview

Calendula is a well-known herb and garden plant that has been used topically, ceremonially, and as a dye. It is also used as a companion plant in many vegetable gardens. This is an edible flower used in teas, tinctures, and various other recipes. Used in home crafted skin care products it helps with dry skin.

Flower Background

This is a self sowing, annual that will come back year after year once you establish it in your garden. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and produces a daisy-like flower with orange or yellow petals and pale green leaves. Though it can now be found through out the world it was originally native to Europe, the Mediterranean, and Middle East.

Cultivation and Harvesting

There is no need to start this plant in a green house it has simple requirements and does well as part of a garden or a pot. Simple spread the seeds or mix with other wildflower seeds and cover lightly with soil. They require full sun and well draining soil. They bloom from early summer and until early fall. Mid summer is the best time for harvesting flower to dry. The middle of the day when the resins are high and the dew has evaporated, clip the flowers just below their base. Place them on a screen to dry, avoid high temperatures and direct sunlight when drying to keep the bright colors.

Common Uses

  • Dried
    • Teas
    • Tinctures
    • Infused Oil
    • Skin Care
  • Fresh
    • Salads and other dishes (was once known as the poor mans saffron)
    • Teas
    • Tinctures

Medicinal Uses:

  • Anti-inflammatory to skin and mucosa
  • Lymphagogue (moves lymph)
  • Vulnerary (promotes healing of damaged tissue)
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow)
  • Cholagogue (stimulates bile)

Indications:

  • Gastrointestinal: Purported to help with gastrointestinal disorders and discomfort. Use as a tea.
  • Lymphatic: Used for various infections of the respiratory system and localized infections. Also used to boost immunity by stimulating the lymphatic system. Use as a tea or topical salve.
  • Gums and mouth: Make a tea to gargle with for sore throats, periodontal disease, inflamed gums.
  • Emmenagogue: May help to stimulate menstrual flow.
  • Topical applications: rashes, stings, wounds, burns, sunburns, abrasions, swellings, eczema, acne, surgical wounds, scrapes, chicken pox, cold sores.

Disclaimer:

If you have a known allergy to other members of the Asteraceae family such as feverfew, chamomile, or Echinacea species be cautious when using calendula.

Always consult with a qualified healthcare practioner before using herbal products. If you are pregnant, nursing or have medical conditions and are on prescribed medications this is essential.

This information is for educational purposes only not to be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. None of this information has been evaluated by the FDA.