Medicinal gardens were common in Victorian times and in the early years in America. You may ask what makes a regular garden different from a medicinal garden.
The herbs and plants selected and grown in these gardens have healing properties and are used to treat a variety of illnesses. Usually the medicinal herb is steeped in water to make an herbal tea. Honey and lemon are often added to make herbal tea taste better.
Sometimes the herbs are mixed with other ingredients to make a natural home remedy. These are usually in the form of a cream or oil. Handmade herbal soaps are often used for skin conditions. I use a jewelweed soap to help with poison ivy, which is all over my property.
Planning an herb garden
- Herbs are hardy plants. Plant them in an area where the soil is average or a little sandy. They don’t need rich soils and actually do better with less care
- Most herbs do well with less water so be careful not to over water them.
- Herbs have a natural wild like look and when planning a garden you can create a nice look with added rocks and wood pieces.
- If you use your garden for medicinal purposes or crafting lying your garden out in a circular pattern makes harvesting easier.
Starting Herbs from Seed
- Start the seeds indoors in small pots with a fluorescent light over them or in an area that get sunlight. I find that added fluorescent light makes a sturdier plant.
- Sow the seeds approximately six weeks before the last frost in your growing zone.
- Use a very thin layer of soil over the herb seed. Herbs like to be sown close to the soil top.
- Water your seeds pots sparingly and carefully to avoid dislodging seed. I water from beneath and set the pot into a tray of water. I make sure the soil top does not get wet and remove and set on a tray of pebbles to make sure they drain well and to add humidity around the seedlings. Water from underneath discourages soil mold.
- Two weeks before the last scheduled frost for your area, you will need to begin hardening your transplants off. This is a very important step many people don’t do. Take you plants outdoors a few hours at a time each day. This acclimates you new plants to direct sun and wind.
- Make sure you wait to plant your herbs outdoors until after the last frost for your region.
You can grow your plants directly in the outdoor herb garden or transplant them into larger pots for a container garden. If I grow directly in the garden I make a temporary cold frame over them to encourage faster growth. This is not necessary but it does speed up the plants growth and give them added protection when they are young.
- If you purchase transplants at the garden center or greenhouse make sure you select healthy plants. Check the plants roots to see if they are root bound. Do not buy plants with unhealthy looking leaves. Also check for insects on the plants. You don’t need to bring home bugs.
- I acclimate the herb plants to sun and the outdoors to prevent plant shock like above. Set the plants out for an hour or two a day to get used to sun and wind.
- When you are ready to plant tilt the pots gently to remove the herb plant with as little disturbance to the roots as possible.
- Plant them after the last frost for your area.
- Water thoroughly after planting and wait for a cloudy day to plant or late in the afternoon so that the plant isn’t subjected to an entire day of bright sun.
If you plan on using your herb garden for herbal treatments always use care and know what you are doing. Herbs can be strong and proper care and use are a must.