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How To Start Your Own Medicinal Herb Garden The Easy Way! And Why You Should

chamomille

our fumbling homestead

How To Start Your Own Medicinal Herb Garden The Easy Way! And Why You Should

This post may contain affiliate links. Ordering a product through this link may result in a commission, which helps pay for the cost of running this site and keeps the content free. All opinions are 100% my own. Likewise, the health advice that may have been shared in this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. See disclosures

Have you ever wanted to start your own medicinal herb garden, but you just weren’t quite sure how to start or wondered what medicinal herbs and flowers you needed for your family? Do you have a small yard or small garden area and wondered where you would even put a medicinal garden.  Well, I have good news! It’s easy to begin and the best part is that you don’t need a huge garden area to for your medicinal plants.

Most herbs and flowers are very forgiving and very hardy. I live in Colorado where our winters can be quite brutal with below freezing temperatures, flooding rains in spring and brutally hot and dry summers. We have it all here in Southern Colorado!

I have been growing my own medicinal herbs and flowers for many years and they have all done quite well in all temperatures. As long as I have a rich, healthy soil, I have found out I can grow just about anything I plant. I plant both in my greenhouse and in my garden area. I also plant in containers.

I buy pretty much all my garden seeds at Botanical Interests. They are a brand I trust and know that their seeds never fail my expectations.

Your garden design can be simple homemade raised beds by using wood, rocks, concrete, the sky is really the limit here. Be creative and use your imagination! You can add the medicinal herbs all over your landscape as long as you can keep them manageable. For larger plants, you can space them between shade loving vegetables.

raised garden bed
Raised Garden Bed

Here are 18 DIY Raised Beds That Are Just Beautiful. Click Here to get your ideas going!

Why You Should Start A Medicinal Herb Garden

It is my own personal and humble opinion, that everyone should have their own medicinal herb garden. The herbs preserve easily and in case of an emergency, you will have them readily available. Dried herbs are perfect for emergency or survival packs for easy use. Herbs, fresh or dried, are extremely expensive if store- bought and their freshness cannot be guaranteed. How long have they sat on the shelf in the store? What fillers do they add to their commercially made product other than 100% product?

The herbs and flowers

First of all, figure out what you want your medicinal herbs and flowers for. Do you want to make salves and lotions for wound care, burns or minor cuts and dry skin? Or do you want to make your own all natural, organic beauty products with your freshly picked herbs and flowers? Do you want to make soothing, delicious teas? As for me, I do all of the above with my medicinal herbs and have them creatively spread throughout my entire garden area.

If you are just beginning a medicinal herb garden, it is best to start small and easy and then work your way up to more complicated plantings as you gain your new found knowledge of each plant, how big they will grow, and what is the best medicinal use for them.

Take Calendula for instance. This is a fast growing, very hardy, annual flower that you can use for salve making for wound healing. You can make a wonderful beauty lotion for your face or you can make a cream for your baby. And yes, you can eat it! Calendula is popular in most baby lotions because of it’s mild and gentle moisturizing effect. It grows in small spaces and is not finicky about the soil it grows in.

Below is a list of the easiest and fastest growing medicinal herbs and medicinal flowers. They are hardy and will grow in almost any condition. If you are a first time grower of these herbs, and a first time user of making your own medicinal medicine and beauty products then you should start with these:

Medicinal Herbs

Peppermint– Needs to be in a container! It spreads very quickly and will overtake your garden if not contained. For hundreds of years peppermint has been used to treat stomach upset, nausea, indigestion and bloating. It is wonderful to use in soaps and beauty products for it’s scent. You can use a starter plant or direct sow the seeds. It is tolerant of most soil conditions, even poor soil conditions.

lemon balm– perfect for container planting. Grows rapidly. Smells heavenly! Lemon balm is always used as an insect repellent and works well in sprays. This is my favorite herbal tea and tincture. It can been started by seed or by starter plant. It is wonderful for easing an upset tummy.

Lemon balm
Lemon Balm

sage– needs to be trimmed to be kept in a small space. Will grow very large if not carefully watched. It can be placed in a container. Sage has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. It is very popular to use as a gargle for sore throats and for sore gums. And delicious to cook with! It is great to help with dandruff. Just steep several large leaves in hot water for approximately 15-30 minutes. Let sit until cool and add small amounts to your regular shampoo with each use.

sage
Sage

 

Rosemary – can grow very large if not trimmed regularly. I plant mine in a large container and bring it indoors in winter and have fresh Rosemary all year long for my medicinal creations and beauty products (great hair rinse!) and for cooking. Beautiful rosemary is said to sharpen memory and stimulate brain function. It is also known for supporting the circulatory and nervous systems. It is antibacterial and antiviral and is perfect for adding to your homemade cleaning products or making a nice herbal tea for a natural pain killer and anti-inflammatory.

rosemary
rosemary bush

thyme– perfect for container planting. It spreads quickly if not contained. Thyme has been used for centuries to help with colds, flu and respiratory issues. It is wonderful as a tea and can be liberally spread on any dishes after cooking. It has also been used as an appetite stimulant and as an expectorant. Can easily sow with seeds or as a small starter plant. Try Lemon Thyme for a delicious herbal tea!

broad leaf thyme
thyme

Medicinal Flowers homeopathy

Calendula– also known as pot marigold, needs only a small section of space. Can interplant between vegetables. Tolerant of even poor soil conditions. Easy to direct sow seeds or can use a starter plant. makes wonderful salves. Can be taken internally by adding petals to salads or making a tea. Easy to dry in a dehydrator and store for future use. Has anti-inflammatory benefits. Here is a great and very easy to do recipe for calendula salve: How to Make Calendula Salve  from A Delightful Home website.

calendula
Calendula

Echinacea– Needs only a small space. Can interplant between vegetables. Drought tolerant and will grow well in most soil types. Echinacea will usually grow it’s flowers in the second year of growth, but you can use the entire plant, especially the roots for your medicinal remedies. Roots, leaves and flowers can all be put into a tincture for year round cold and flu fighting capabilities. How To Make a Tincture

Lavender– Will grow fairly large if not trimmed. I put my lavender bushes in the corners of my garden and just let them go right up the fence. They take very little space in my garden and they do not interfere with any other plants. Lavender has so many wonderful benefits that this is a must have plant for your garden. It is very easy to start by either direct sow of seeds or by using a starter plant.

Lavender uses: add flowers and leaves to your tea. Steep in hot water for several minutes and ..YUM! Add crushed dried lavender flowers to your homemade soap for a wonderful fresh smell in the morning. Lavender essential oil is also a disinfectant to add to your homemade cleaning needs. Read my Blog post Essential Oils and Herbs: The Best Homemade Recipes! to find wonderful herbal creations that I make myself and from many other creative bloggers who share their own herbal products. And my post Best Herbal Teas To Make At Home.

German Chamomile – small and delicate these flowers can be placed in a small space and do very well. If you want to gather and preserve chamomile easily, it is best to keep them bunched together in a small space. If you spread them throughout your garden, it will be more difficulty gathering the very small delicate flowers. Chamomile tea is famous for a before bedtime relaxant to help give a sound sleep. It delicate flowers are wonderful and very fragrant added to soaps and salves to help moisturize and sooth skin. Caution: German chamomile is also a blood thinner and should not be taken with certain medications. Consult your doctor if pregnant before taking

Yarrow- yarrow will grow very fast and will be quite happy anywhere in your garden area. You can reserve a small corner of your garden for a few plants and spread them around your entire garden between your vegetables. For best medicinal benefit, make sure to get wild White yarrow. The yellow and red do not have the same health benefits as the white yarrow. Here in Colorado wild white yarrow grows wild everywhere. Yarrow is a very powerful herb that is known to stop minor bleeding  when crushed and applied to a wound. It has diuretic properties and is a vasodilator. Prefers well drained soil and sunlight but is not finicky.

 

yarrow
wild white yarrow

Did you know that you can grow your own organic ginger and turmeric in a container in a sunny corner of your home. Neither of these medicinal roots grow fast. In fact they are very slow growing, both taking approximately nine months to produce more roots, but I mention them, since they are so very easy to grow and you can just stick them in a corner out of the way. Once ready, just wipe away some of the compost and pull off a small plug of ginger or turmeric to use in your culinary creations or as a wonderful medicinal tea. Both have anti-inflammatory properties and the medical research of turmeric is proving to be a medicinal herb gardeners dream!

ginger
Ginger

Try this Yummy Creamy Turmeric tea here. This recipe also has ginger root in it for extra immune boosting benefits.




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Essential Oils and Herbs: The Best Homemade Recipes!

our fumbling homestead

 Essential Oils and Herbs: The Best Homemade Recipes!

This post may contain affiliate links. Ordering a product through this link may result in a commission, which helps pay for the cost of running this site and keeps the content free. All opinions are 100% my own. Likewise, the health advice that may have been shared in this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help.

 

Essential oils and medicinal herbs seems to always catch people’s attention and peak curiosity. What are they? How do you use them? Why should I make homemade products with them? These are some of the questions that my friends and family have asked me over the many years that I have been creating homemade wonders. My first response to their questions is always the same. “Because I want chemical free, all natural organic products in my home and on my body.” Then I will explain that using therapeutic essential oils and healing herbs is very cost-effective and fairly easy to do at home.

Below I will add my own creations that I use at home and I will also add links to other blogger’s sites that also have wonderful must try creations, so you will be able to get the full spectrum of homemade perfection all in one place!

Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

Rose Hip Facial Scrub– This is a simple basic recipe infused with the wonders of Rose hips seed oil that is very high in vitamins, antioxidants and anti-aging properties. Gently scrub face with this before bedtime and let the rose hips oil do its magic!

Creamy Body Butter– This simple to make body butter is oh so rich and creamy. Add your own  favorite essential oils for wonderful fragrance and added richness of oils.

Easy DIY Mouth Wash: It jus does not get any easier than this for fresh breath!

DIY Chest Rub: Perfect for cold and flu season when congestion hits.

Headache Relief:

Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil, 5 drops of peppermint essential oil and 3 teaspoons of sweet almond oil to small jar. Mix and use as a massage oil for temples and forehead to relieve headaches quickly.

 

Oatmeal Facial Scrub:

Those with sensitive skin will love this simple basic facial scrub.

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 cup warm water

5-8 drops of favorite essential oil (adding a teaspoon of honey instead of the essential oils  also makes a wonderful scrub.

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth and the consistency you like. Gently massage face with a small amount and rinse well.

DIY Air Freshener:

I love making  my own air freshener, because I know what ingredients are in it. The commercial air fresheners scare me! Truthfully! They are filled with dangerous chemicals and names you cannot pronounce ingredients. Who wants that in their home? Below is a simple, easy do it yourself air freshener with all natural ingredients.

Fill a small spray bottle with water and add approximately 25-30 drops of your favorite essential oil. More or less essential oil depending on your preference. That’s it! My favorites are lavender, lemon and chamomile.

Another simple air freshening idea is to fill a pretty glass bowl with baking soda and add several drops of your favorite essential oils, mix and set around your home for a pretty, wonderful smelling air freshener. Have fun with creating your DIY home cleaners and experiment with what works best for you and your family.

massage oil

DIY Massage Oil:

1/4 cup dried Calendula flowers

1/4 cup dried lavender flowers

1/4 cup chamomile flowers

1/4 cup rose petals

1 1/2 to 2 cups oil (almond oil, apricot oil, jojoba or your favorite oil)

Add oil and flowers and herbs to double boiler and heat on low for 35-40 minutes so herbs may absorb into the oil. do not bring to boil, and watch mixture closely while it is heating. You do not want your massage oil to smell like burnt flowers and oil! After allotted time, remove from heat, strain, and add essential oils if desired. pour into a container of choice.

You can mix and match your favorite herbs and flowers for this recipe to make your own massage oil. and add any of your essential oils you choose after the oil is removed from heat. You can leave bits and pieces of your herbs and flowers in the jar for a decorative look. Keep oil in a cool, dark area away from direct sunlight.

Easy Carpet Deodorizer:

1 cup baking soda

10 or more drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix baking soda and essential oil together thoroughly and sprinkle over carpets. Let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes (preferably longer so the baking soda can absorb the nasty smells you may have) then vacuum as usual.. Done and cheap to do!

Dishwasher Detergent:

1/2 Cup Borax

1/2 Cup Baking Soda

1/8 Cup Citric Acid

20-25 drops of essential oil of choice (I use Lemon essential oil)

Mix all ingredients together and store near dishwasher. Add 1 to 1/2 Tablespoons per load

Best Herbal Teas To Make At Home: Now this is how herbs should be used! One of my most recent posts. Enjoy!

Orange-Almond Body Wash-(Freebie Finding Mom)- This body wash sounds wonderful and you can easily swap out of mix & match your favorite ingredients!

Frankincense Wrinkle Reducing Cream-(Organic RN) Frankincense is my number one go to essential oil for my face creams. Perfect for deep absorption, age spot fading and reducing wrinkles!

Anti-Aging Cream : (Mother Earth Living) rich in skin conditioning oils. Add your favorite essential oils

Herbal Face Oil: (Wellness mama) With Lavender, Rose and Frankincense, this moisturizing face oil is super amazing!

Coconut Milk Shampoo: (Freebie Finding Mom) Just the name makes me want to make a batch ASAP!

Lavender Rosemary Shampoo-( Premeditated Leftovers) This simple DIY shampoo recipe is a must try. It smells oh so wonderful and has a nice calming effect.

lavender

DIY Homemade Makeup Remover Pads: (Redefined Mom) I love that this DIY uses tea tree oil (especially for acne prone skin) You can mix and match your favorite essential oils in this recipe.( Remember that Lavender is an anti-inflammatory also!)

Snow Cone Sugar Scrub : (The Gunny Sack) Now this just looks fun! What beautiful colors. I think I will try this very soon. I will add my favorite moisturizing essential oils to it.

Homemade Lavender Hand Cream: (The Happy Housewife): Wonderful for dry hands. this moisturizing hand cream would be perfect for my over worked “garden” hands!

5 Easy Homemade Lotion Recipes! (The Little Pine)  Natural, healthy and great information. A must read!

Honey Face Wash (Live Simply) I love this!

Herbal Cough Drops: (Frugal Farm Wife) I love to add Manuka Honey to these homemade cough drops!

17 Incredible Reasons You Need A Bottle of Clove Oil (Natural Living Ideas) I love clove oil and make my own. Fantastic site!

Lemon Honey and Thyme Cough Syrup: (Reformation Acres) Just Yum! Simple, easy and delicious!

Arnica Ointment for Pain Relief: (Learning Herbs) Grow this powerful herb in your flower garden for natural pain relief and easy to make remedies.

Aromatherapy Body Powder : (Aromaweb.com)So simple to make. Just add your own favorite essential oil!

DIY Organic Foundation Makeup…With Sunscreen (Scratchmommy.com) The cinnamon and cocoa powder gives the natural color. Rich creamy all natural makeup

Essential oils by skin type:

Dry/Mature:

aloe vera

lavender

sandalwood

Clary Sage

carrot seed

peppermint

Lemon Verbena

Oily/Combination:

yarrow

sage

peppermint

hyssop

basil

citrus

Tea tree oil

Eucalyptus

Sensitive:

chamomile

Rosemary

lavender

geranium

Natural Exfoliates

finely crushed nuts, sugar, baking soda, dry oats

Enjoy experimenting with your essential oils and herbs and learn how to create your own wonderful creations!

 



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Best Herbal Teas To Make At Home

our fumbling homestead

Best Herbal Teas To Make At Home

Would you like the best herbal teas to make at home? Nothing tastes better than a nice cup of organic herbal tea that you made right at home yourself. The fragrant, organic herbs and flowers grown right in your own garden and gently dried by your own hands. That  “Aaaaah” moment you get after a sip of your brew. Healthy, organic. Life is good!

There is no better feel good moment than sitting down after a long, hard day and relaxing to a warm cup of fragrant, flavorful herbal tea. If you have a garden, large or small, you can grow your own herbs very easily for your home – brewed teas. Most herbs are very hardy and can basically do well in any garden. Very few are finicky. So go grab some organic herb seeds and let’s get started with our wonderful teas! You can purchased most of the ingredients at your local health food store if you do not have a garden. Below you will see a link to the highly recommended Botanical Interests website. This is where I purchase most of my organic seeds and have had great success with them.

herbal tea

You  can use any herb variety you choose to make your own teas. I love mixing and matching mine and will often add 2-3 different herbs to my infusion. Have fun, do experiments and find out what your favorite flavors are. If you cannot grow your own herbs and need to buy them. I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. They are a trusted site and have wonderful organic products. Just click on the link in my side bar or below this post and you will head straight to their site. Or you can purchase the ingredients at most health food stores, but make sure they are fresh and organic and free of chemical and pesticides before you buy them.

You can measure your flowers and herbs by cups, spoons or handful amounts. If I mix and match herbs and flowers, I will add a few teaspoons, or a larger handful of the flavor I want to be most pronounced. Just keep in mind that dried herbs will be slightly stronger than fresh herbs, so when you are measuring your herbs and flowers out for your cup of tea, you can adjust to suit your taste.

Infusion:

The steeping of a substance into water, oil or alcohol. Yes, it’s that simple. To make an herbal tea, all you have to do is steep your dried or fresh herbs in hot water for an extended period of time. The longer you steep the stronger your tea will be. Steeping for 5 to 6 minutes is usually a good time frame. You can steep your herbs, seeds, roots and flowers in hot water by either using a mesh tea ball infuser, a homemade tea bag, or into a glass tea infuser as shown in the picture at the top of the page. I use all three methods for my teas and they all work wonderfully. Once you strain your flowers and herbs, you can add the spent ingredients to your compost pile.

My Favorite: Best Herbal Teas

Lavender and chamomile:

I grow both Lavender and Chamomile in my garden and use both on a frequent, consistent basis. Lavender can be a bit tricky to start from seed (for me anyway!) so I buy small starter plants at a local organic farm. Chamomile is very easy to grow from seed and can be grown in almost any home garden. These two wonderful, fragrant flowers are known for their calming and soothing properties and I make this my favorite night- time tea before bed. The following is for approximately 2 cups of tea.

Add 2 tablespoons freshly chopped or dried lavender flowers (I even use stems) and 2 tablespoons fresh or dried chamomile to container of choice ( I use my infuser) add 2 cups water and heat slowly for approximately 3-5 minutes, do not boil. Once heated turn off stove and let flowers steep in hot water for approximately 5 minutes. Strain. You  can slowly reheat before drinking and then add to your cups and enjoy! I add 1 tsp of organic honey to this drink at night. Yummy! You can also make this as an iced drink and is wonderful with a wedge of lemon or lime.

 

 

Spearmint with fresh Lemon:

I grow all my mint plants in containers around my garden, since this is an extremely invasive plant and will quickly take over your garden area if not contained. Amy mint plant can easily be started from seed or plants and it is not picky about the soil it is grown in. The mint family is known for its soothing properties and benefits of soothing upset stomachs. And it tastes yummy! You can use any variety of freshly chopped mint or dried mint. The flavors of mint are vast including pineapple, spearmint, peppermint, apple mint ect. My favorite is the spearmint.

Add 1/4 cup freshly chopped or 1/4 cup dried mint to water and slowly heat. Let steep approximately 5 minutes. Strain. Add a small amount of fresh squeezed lemon juice to your cup and enjoy!

 

Red Clover Tea:red clover

Red clover is packed with nutrients and very easy to grow in your garden. It has Vitamin C, Potassium, calcium, and magnesium among many other beneficial nutrients. Researcher has proven that red clover can reduce menopausal hot flashes also.

1/4 cup fresh or dried red clover flowers steeped in 2 cups hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain herbs and enjoy. I add cinnamon and honey to my red clover tea for a yummy morning drink. This tea is delicious also with hibiscus flowers steeped with the red clover

Ginger and Turmeric:ginger

I grow both ginger and turmeric very successfully in my garden greenhouse in large pots. Yes, even in Colorado you can grow these warm weather loving nutritional powerhouses!. Turmeric is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and pain relieving qualities. It’s active ingredient, curcumin, is not only a potent anti-inflammatory, it is also a potent antioxidant.

Ginger  is known for its delightful flavor and tummy soothing properties. It is also widely used for inflammation. I love ginger in any form! Candied, teas, sliced, chopped or diced in foods!

I mostly drink these two separate rhizomes separately for my teas, but occasionally I will mix them together. You can use sliced, shredded or dried ginger and turmeric for this tea.

Add 3-4 slices of each rhizome (turmeric and ginger) into a double boiler, add enough water for 2 cups of tea. Heat on low heat for several minutes without boiling. Let steep for approximately 8-10 minutes. Slowly reheat, strain,  then pour into cups and enjoy! This tea is wonderful with honey and fresh squeezed lemon. Many people will also add milk, cream or cinnamon to this tea. Yum!

Lemon Balm and/or Lemongrass:

I love lemons. I love lemon flavors. I will eat, drink, smell anything lemon! This is probably my favorite of all the teas. You can add one or both of these extremely flavorful herbs. I also love these 2 herbs infused in chilled water with sliced strawberries. Delicious!

Lemon balm is known as a calming herb that helps reduce stress and anxiety. It is a perennial plant and can quickly take over your garden, so it will be best to keep this plant in a container.

Lemongrass is a heat loving plant and is best grown in warm climates or in a greenhouse. I kept mine in a large pot in my greenhouse and it grew…and grew…and grew! I had to keep trimming the plant to keep it at a reasonable height. It is super easy to dehydrate and store and you can chew on the leaves fresh or dehydrated for a yummy lemon treat.

lemongrass

For hot tea this will make approximately 4 cups of tea: Add 1/4 cup fresh or dried lemon balm and 1/4 cup fresh or dried chopped lemongrass with 4 cups of water to a double boiler. (I use my infuser) Heat slowly for several minutes. let steep. Strain and enjoy!

For Iced tea: Fresh herbs work best for this, but you can also use dried, you will just have to let it steep longer. In a half- gallon glass jar (you can use a gallon jar) add 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries. You can use pineapples, mangos, peaches or blueberries for this iced tea. the choice are limitless! Add 1/2 cup lemon balm, 1/4 cup chopped mint (optional) and 1/4 cup lemongrass. Fill glass jar with warm water almost to the top. I set my jar in a sunny window or even outside for several hours first and then refrigerate, but you can add cold water and set straight into the refrigerator and let chill for several hours, but the flavor may not be as intense. Enjoy with ice and a sprig of mint!

 Echinacea (leaves and flower petals)echimechia

Perfect for cold and flu season, research shows that this powerful plant can help ward off and decrease signs and symptoms of colds. Delicious with organic honey or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

For 2 cups add 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup fresh flowers and 2 cups water to double boiler and heat on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Turn off stove and let steep for another 10 minutes. Strain and pour!

RoseHip Tea rosehip

Rosehips are the fruit of the rose bush plant and contains tons of vitamin C which is very important for the immune system. Rosehip has a pleasantly tart flavor and contains other vitamins such as A, B and K and also pectin. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of chopped rosehips. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain and enjoy! sweeten with a touch of honey.

cinnamon

Cinnamon and Cloves

I add cinnamon and cloves to almost all my herbal teas for flavor and also both have strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger-Clove-Cinnamon Tea for Bronchitis

Lemon Verbena:

You can use the leaves and flowers of the lemon scent plant. Lemon verbena is easy to grow and will become a bushy plant in a small corner of your garden. It is wonderful as a hot beverage either alone or mixed with other herbs. It also makes a refreshing ice tea.

Calming Teas

chamomile, lemon balm, ginger root, valerian root, calendula, rose petals

Teas for Cold and Flu Season

Rosehips, lemon peel, thyme, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, sage

Immune Booster Teas

rose hips, lemon peel, hibiscus, fennel

Have fun with your herbal tea mixtures and mix and match until you find a wonderful flavor concoction just for you! You can make iced tea out of all of the above herbal teas also. You also can make the best herbal teas at home!

Here is an added bonus from wonderful sites and delicious teas!

Rosehip Tea: Sweet Vitamin C

Red Clover Lemonade – Not tea..but Oh So Yummy!

Pain Relief Tea

Cinnamon Sore Throat Tea

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Ordering a product through this link may result in a commission, which helps pay for the cost of running this site and keeps the content free. All opinions are 100% my own. Likewise, the health advice that may have been shared in this post has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help.

Mountain Rose Herbs

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Organic Gardening Colorado Style! Cold Weather Crops

Organic Gardening Colorado Style! Cold Weather Crops

Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases/sign-ups made via the referral links in this post. Read More

 

Organic gardening in Colorado can be quite challenging sometimes. Searching for cold weather crops to add to my garden is somewhat of a hobby for me ( or obsession). I start my search in January or February and usually continue up until spring time. I scour every organic NON GMO heirloom seed catalog I can get my hands on, make my selection carefully and hope that the harsh Colorado winters and spring will let my precious seed give life to what will become a wonderfully cooked meal for my family and some yummy snacks for my chickens. I am a firm believer in having a greenhouse and using row covers. The two are almost a must have in some parts of Colorado. I also use a 4 tier inside greenhouse that I have set up in a sunny window area.

Southern Colorado, where I live, is considered to be a high mountain desert area. We are lucky to have mostly nice sunny days, but also known for our extreme weather patterns in spring (floods, snow) and ice and snow storms in winter.

Let’s Talk Seeds:

Organic, heirloom, non gmo, hybrid..Decisions, decisions, decision! In my garden, I use organic, heirlooms seeds so I am able to save the seeds year after year. A few of my favorite and trusted organic seed suppliers are Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at rareseeds.com, Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, and Botanical Interests. I tend to go to Botanical Interests most often since they are a Colorado based company and I have never been disappointed in their seeds. It is very important you choose the correct seeds for your organic garden. You want seed suppliers  you can trust that do not use any pesticides on their crops. Before selecting any seeds please thoroughly read the “About Us” page on their websites. Once you find the perfect seed supplies, stick with them! My favorite is Botanical Interests. If you click the banner below, it will take you directly to their website.

Hybrid seed is a seed that has two or more different parents resulting in an offspring that is new variety of that plant. These seeds are not sterile but when you plant seed you have saved from a hybrid plant you will get many different varieties of that plant the next year. .

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated which means the seed you save will produce plants that look exactly like the parents (as long as you don’t have any cross pollination which will produce a hybrid seed). heirlooms also have to have a history to them to be considered heirlooms and not just open pollinated. generally heirlooms are seeds that have been lovingly passed down from generation to generation for hundreds or years

I am extremely luckly to live only a few miles from a trusted organic grower at Desert Canyon Farm. I visit their farm every spring when they open to purchase my medicinal herbs and young garden plants to add to my garden. I have never been disappointed with my purchases. They are all Colorado grown and I know I am getting true organic, heirloom plants. See my Amazon favorites to order the owner of Desert Canyon Farm’s book Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung. It is a must have for Colorado gardeners! If at all possible, buy your organic, heirlooms seeds and plants locally, that way you know they are already adapted to your climate and location.

compost

Let’s Talk Compost:

The most important component of your garden soil is the organic matter you add such as leaves, grass clippings, cover crops, coffee grounds, tables scraps such as fruits and vegetables and eggs shells and worm castings. I will be writing a  post related to garden compost on my next blog so stayed tuned! So I will keep this area of the blog fairly short and quick. The most important thing to remember is that you do not want to add any organic matter that may have been sprayed with pesticides. The best part is that most herbs are pretty forgiving regarding the quality of the soil, but you want the best nutrients for your plant to survive, thrive and be healthy.

Starting your own compost pile is pretty easy. Here is a link for Composting 101 that is easy to follow and goes into some very specific details to get you on your way. I have been creating my own compost for the past several years and my garden has never been healthier or happier!

seeds

Cold Weather Crops:

I usually start my  cool weather crops indoors about March and April. I have never used a grow light for my seed starts. I just place the starters near a large sunny window area and make sure they are positioned to get enough sunshine. I reuse milk jugs, small plant pots that I have had for years, egg cartons and pretty much whatever I have lying around to put my seeds in to begin my indoor seed starting.

Below are cold weather crops that I have had very good luck with year after year in Colorado. I will only list early starting seeds and plants below. I do add a light layer of mulch around the young plants for added protection from the weather extremes we have here in Colorado once I transplant them outdoors..

Cabbage& Broccoli – I start the seeds indoors in early March and then transfer them to my greenhouse at the end of April. In early May I will add the young plants to the garden bed. My favorite heirloom cabbage are the Copenhagen heirloom, but pretty much any heirloom cabbage will grow well in cold weather climates. De Cicco Broccoli is a fast growing heirloom variety that has done well in my gardens. Since I am the only one who eats cabbage in my home, I will store the cabbage mostly for my chickens to use through the winter months.

Root CropsCarrots, Radishes, and Beets. I have always had great success with these plants for my Colorado garden. I will direct sow my carrot, radish and beet seeds in early May, unless we are having a particularly nasty beginning of spring, then I will wait until mid to late May. I have noticed that the carrots I have planted over the years have grown twice as fast and twice as large if I plant them in raised beds instead of directly in the ground. I always plant extra carrots to use for canning to store and eat through the winter. Carrots also store very well in damp sand once pulled.

Spinach, Kale & Swiss Chard: I direct sow these seeds in my garden in late April or early May and have always had great success with them no matter what the temperature is. The Rainbow Swiss Chard or  called Five Color Silverbeet is excellent for short season gardening. Bloomsdale Longstanding Heirloom spinach has always been a NO fail in my garden and is a good bolt resistant variety. I have grown kale of every variety and all seem to thrive in my Colorado garden, even through frost and heavy snow. An extra plot always goes in for the chickens to snack on.

Peas: This is my favorite garden food. My husband makes fun of me, because I will eat the peas right out of the garden as soon as they grow large enough and I usually do not share with anyone! I direct sow pea seeds as early as mid or even early March..snow or freeze doesn’t seem to matter with peas in my garden…they ALWAYS grow! You should plant your peas as early as able to give them a good start and try to plant them in an area where they can get some shade during the day. Once the weather gets hot, it seems, my peas anyway, slow down in production.  I have always had great success and wonderful flavor with the Oregon Sugar Pod Heirloom pea.

Lettuce:

I direct sow all my lettuce seeds at the beginning or middle of May. I plant one plot for me and my husband and one entire plot just for my chickens! There is a huge variety of lettuce types for you to choose from and I found that most all grow well as a cool crop in my Colorado garden. If planted to early I find that they freeze fairly quickly unless you use row covers. Once the heat of summer hits lettuce tends to bolt and turn bitter quickly. I have never had any luck growing iceberg lettuce though, so I stick to the loose leaf lettuce and grow a lot of my favorite butter crunch.

 

Herbs:
High altitude gardeners should focus on the following herbs, especially if you live in an extreme and fluctuating climate. Most herbs are very hardy but the following have a proven record and success rate for high altitude gardens.

Chives – can be direct sowed early in higher altitudes. Grows in clumps, so it will not spread to other areas of your garden.

Cilantro– I have cilantro all over my garden. Just a slight breeze will scatter the seeds everywhere! I don’t mind since I love cilantro, but you may want to find a way to contain it if you have a small garden area. Very hardy in high altitude climates. Direct sow in April or early May.

Sage – another hardy herb and also used in medicinal remedies for colds and flu. My sage plant tripled in size in one growing season, so if you have a smaller garden, you may want to put it in a container or keep it well trimmed during the summer months. Perfect for dehydrating and storing. I have had difficulty starting Sage from seed in my Colorado garden, so I buy the young plants from a local organic grower.

Fennel – Grows very tall and the smell is wonderful. One of my favorite cold hardy herbs to grow. I planted a plant and have not tried direct sowing seeds with fennel yet. I dry the leaves and use in tea and collect the seeds to add to bread. Fennel is one of the first plants that come back to life in my garden in early spring and has survived several heavy snow storms without any damage. This is a very hardy and forgiving plant and seems to tolerate any soil type. Keep in mind that it does grow to be quite large.

Mint– PUT IN CONTAINER! Mint spreads everywhere and if you aren’t careful it will completely  take over your garden. I direct sow seeds in  containers and just place the containers around my garden. I keep the plants trimmed throughout the summer. My favorite mint is spearmint. I use both fresh and dried for my teas. There are many varieties and flavors in the mint family for you to choose from.

Rosemary- I decided to try a small potted rosemary plant in a corner of my garden just to see how it did since I have heard rosemary can be quite temperament in cooler areas. It grew to triple in size in one season and survived every season since! I have even transplanted it twice and it just kept on growing!

Now you know that you can garden in a high altitude sometimes extreme climate and have great success. there are many Internet sites that offer education on cold weather crops and I encourage you to do your research. When I first started my Colorado garden many years ago, I did so by trial and error. I learned to slow down, take my time getting just the right seeds and plants for my high altitude climate, build a rich compost pile and then start playing in the dirt!

Below is a seed starting guide for zone 5b. I feel it is also useful for zone 4 & 5, which I am in.

seed starting guide

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

 

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