It is almost Spring, depending on where you are in the country. Time to start the annuals and to awaken the garden. Even if your garden is primarily ornamental, you can include medicinal herbs, many of which are lovely. And don’t forget to eat the weeds, once you know what they are and what is safe!
If you have a large yard with good sun, you can grow all kinds of things. I would urge you to even convert your lawn or parts of it into a garden of edible and medicinal plants. (No one said they had to grow in straight rows- mixed borders, islands of mixed crops and fruit or nut trees can grow in a lawn. And wild strawberries, dandelion, plantain, red clover, sorrel and similar greens can grow in the lawn itself. In my part of the country (Zone 7) with tiny plots and few portions of light, I need to get down to the most bang for my square feet of growing area.
I suggest echinacea, blueberries, jiaogulan (similar to ginseng but an annual), goji berry vine, garlic, shallots and onions, holy basil, shiso, anise hyssop, the mints, catnip, lemon balm, oregano, sage, bergamot, nettles, ashwaganda (but you need several plants), lavender, valerian, blue vervain, scullcap, Oregon grape, berberis, comfrey and violets. I have an aromatic rose for petals, a mulberry tree which is practically a whole pharmacy, bush cherries and a peach tree which yields more leaves than peaches (but I use the leaves.) My useful weeds include such edibles and medicinals as violets, mugwort, chickweed, dandelion, plantain, lambs quarters, amaranth, red clover and wormseed (epazote). I will even tincture the ragweed, long before flowering, for allergies.
Here is a scientist’s prescription for a medicinal garden, complete with recipes:
One Scientist’s Prescription: Grow Your Own Drugs
March 4, 2010
James Wong thinks you should grow your own drugs.
No, we’re not talking about the illicit kind. We’re talking about a living pharmacy of plants from your own backyard: fennel and rose hips; echinacea and dandelion; horse chestnuts and nettles.