Big garden, or small porch, planting an herb garden is the perfect way to bring in the spring.
Putting our hands in the soil nourishes something deep within us, and there is now scientific evidence that gardening holds a number of measurable health benefits. The data shows that tending to flowers and simply being in nature can calm anxiety, lift symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure!
Not to mention the amazing healing abilities of each plant to be used to enliven the soul and heal the body.
Are you ready to create your own herb garden this spring?
Here are 5 healing herbs that are easy to grow, no matter where you live:
#1 Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
I consider peppermint an absolute must-have -- in the garden and in my life. In addition to its incredible flavor and aroma, Peppermint is an amazing ally for flu season, because it is known to calm pain, help with fevers, and calm stomach aches quickly.
This plant is so low-maintenance that you'll hardly have to pay attention to it for it to thrive. Peppermint grows very quickly, and even faster if you regularly pluck their abundant leaves (use them in your teas or for other culinary purposes). Just remember to cut gently at the stem and not take too much too soon -- or you will damage the plant.
*Peppermint likes gritty, moist soil and partial sunlight.
#2 Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
These gorgeous golden flowers pop up in early summer -- if the seeds are tended to throughout the spring. For thousands of years, their bright petals have been used as an effective topical healer. Calendula is appropriate for any skin type, and can heal rashes, acne, minor scratches and bug bites. Taken as a tea, its petals also help to move lymphatic fluid properly and stimulate detoxification. You can also add petals to the bath water to calm inflamed skin.
Plant these ASAP and see them sprout and bloom in the early warm months. Give each seed about 12-18 square inches and bury them 1/4 inch into rich, well-drained soil. Water regularly to keep the dirt moist, but not drenched.
#3 Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile is a crowd pleaser for many reasons. Its small white petals spark joy in anyone who sees them and their pleasant aroma alone is calming. As a tea, it quells tummy aches, brings comfort to sick kiddos, and relaxes tense muscles. A great before-bed herbal tea! Chamomile is so helpful for kids with anxiety or attention issues.
Chamomile grows well in almost any climate, but it's easier to start from a plant than a seed. Once growing, this soothing herb is incredibly easy to take care of.
*The strong aroma of chamomile makes them the ideal addition to any vegetable patch because they ward off critters and insects!
#4 Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is often the first green medicine that pops into our mind when we think of calming, sleep herbs. The scent of lavender is proven to bring down cortisol levels, which are behind our "fight-or-flight" stress response. Added to oils, creams, and salves, lavender is a powerful muscle relaxant and wound healer. But its legendary use has been to invoke lively dreams by promoting deep sleep.
Best grown from clippings of a mature bush, lavender reaches up and solidifies itself quickly. Because of its resilient nature, lavender seeds are best planted at least 2 feet apart -- and it grows best in drier soils, so keep that in mind as you're planning your garden.
*Lavender attracts pollinators of all kinds, making your backyard a sanctuary for local butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
#5 Dandelions -- (Taraxacum officinale)
To quote Rosalee de la Foret, "lawn purists" have poisoned this beloved herbal remedy for decades, but it continues to grow.
Truly every part of a dandelion is medicinal. It's widely respected as one of the premiere liver detox herbs, and a tea made of its roots is a great diet drink that helps you burn fat.
If you haven't tried this yet, fresh dandelion leaves are an amazing addition to salads and pesto to give a little wallop to sweeter recipes.
It is highly medicinal and extremely flavorful when prepared the right way... AND its blooms and fuzzy seeds bring giggles and laughter to children.
My children love to gather dandelion blossoms and put them in hot water. We allow them to steep for 20 minutes and drink the infusion. My kids love creating their own drinks with the beautiful yellow flowers.
For all these reasons, many of us believe that dandelions should be protected.
With these 5 easy-to-grow herbs, you'll have a living medicine sanctuary to support your health year-round... And don't forget to dry plenty of herbs, so you have them for the cold months too!
As you create your own herbal garden, I hope that you find joy in the beauty and healing power of each plant. Happy gardening!