I love to garden! I love to grow anything and everything! But I have a real love of herb gardening. I adore the wonderful aromas that I get every time I touch or walk past a group of herbs. I love the way that they make my garden look and I sooooo love the many things that I can do with them!
In the past couple of weeks, my garden harvesting has really ramped up, and two of the plants that I am currently harvesting regularly are chamomile and calendula. I harvest them every other day and today was one of those days. So I thought I might share a little bit of that with my friends! (That’s you)
Why Herb Gardening?
I am always getting questions about how to do this and that around the garden and I love to share that knowledge. (In fact, if asked, I will generally talked your ear off…I get that from my daddy-what a talker!) The plants, about which I get the most questions always seem to be herbs. I think that has something to do with the general mystique surrounding them. Most people know how to harvest and use fruits and vegetables, however, herbs are a little less common to most gardeners. Yet people use them daily…you just don’t think about it.
Spices and seasonings, teas and garnishes, healing compounds; herb gardening touches most parts of life. The two herbs that I am talking about today are no exception. In fact they are two of the most useful herbs in the garden and even a black thumb couldn’t mess these guys up!
Chamomile is an extremely versatile medicinal herb due to its disease fighting antioxidants. It helps to fight anxiety and depression, it is an anti-inflammatory, and it is known to fight insomnia, skin disorders and so much more. This is where you can find further and more in-depth information about all that chamomile can do.
Calendula, also known as ‘Pot-Marigold’ is a wonder-herb, in my opinion. I use it for just about everything. I make a line of Herbal Healing Salves and Skin Care and Calendula is in almost all of the formulations. Not only is Calendula a terrific companion in the garden, keeping many pests away from my plants, it is simply chock full of skin-healing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can assist the healing of so many afflictions, from skin disorders to urinary tract infections to digestion problems and everything in between. This is a link to a terrific piece on the uses of Calendula.
Growing each of these plants from seed is very easy . With the chamomile, you can simply throw the seed out in the area where you would like for it to grow. Basic sunlight and watering just like the rest of the garden and these plants just thrive!
So, since I’m a grower, that part is fun and easy for me. Harvesting them is what gave me a little trouble in the beginning. Not because it is difficult in the least, but because I didn’t want to pick off the beautiful flowers! But that’s exactly what you have to do! Once I got over that hump and forced myself to pull them the first time, it became much easier…the more I pull, the more they bloom!
As I mentioned, I harvest the blooms approximately every other day. With the Chamomile, I simply grab hold of the flowering bud at the end of the stems and pull. They come off very easily with no damage to the plant. With the Calendula, I use scissors and snip the stem down next to an intersection near where there is usually another bud ready to bloom very soon.
Once I get them harvested the next step is drying them. I use a dehydrator, but I know people who use their convection oven on very low temps. I just toss the chamomile in a single layer on the trays and they are ready to go. For the Calendula, I use the scissors again and cut the base of the flower bud. Then I toss them onto the dehydrator trays, also in a single layer. Once the dehydrator is on, I go about my day–more herb gardening!
When they are completely dry, I store them in airtight containers for their next use.
There will be a post upcoming on some of the various recipes that I use for my salves and skin care as well as all of their healing properties.