This garden will provide some basic medicines, and some delicious teas. All the plants require a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight each day so keep an eye on your property to see where they would be happy. Usually an Eastern exposure will make them all happy but isn't absolutely necessary. If you find that you have more space and time, check out the Thirteen Herbs for a Witch's Cupboard page for more plants that you might enjoy living with.
Click the image on your left to see the full size image of the The Ultra Easy Medicinal Herb Tea Garden Design. If you hover over the right side of the image, you can use the slide show to go to the next image in this article.
This introductory herb garden can be viewed as you would a medicine cabinet. These plants have been selected with four criteria in mind:
- They must be extremely easy to grow and low maintenance plants.
- They must each serve a multitude of medicinal uses.
- They must grow in most climate zones.
- They must be aesthetically pleasing.
This garden is not intended for intense herbal medicine that would be used for treatment of serious illnesses such as liver diseases or cancer, but is meant to provide basic remedies for the average ailment such as headaches, constipation, cold and flu symptoms, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, sleeplessness, minor cuts, scrapes and bruises, tax season and aunt Gladys's cooking symptoms. Of course, for serious or repeating symptoms, see your health care practitioner and read the site Cautions & Disclaimer.
Useful recipes that utilize these herbs can be found throughout PaganPath using the search at the top of every page. Following each herb is the binomial or "botanical" name. Next you will see a short note about the easiest and least expensive way to get the plants to your garden. You don't have to collect every plant on the list. Find recipes that you wish to use, and grow the herbs that are necessary for them.
You can find the following eleven plants at your local nursery or garden center. If they are unavailable there, check with friends, mail order, contact your local Master Gardeners group through your extension service (in the U.S.) do a search on the internet, check gardening and herbs section of the links page on this site, or start them from seed.
- Thyme Thymus vulgaris best planted from starts (small plants at the nursery)
- Balm or Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis best planted from starts or divisions (cut your friend's plant in half)
- Catnip Nepeta cataria grow from seed
- Dandelion Taraxacum officinale less invasive strains can be found through mail order suppliers who specialize in exotic and European 'greens' or you can just let one pop up wherever, but be certain of your identification.
- Fennel Foeniculum vulgare grow from seed
- Feverfew Chrysanthemum parthenium best planted from starts
- German Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla grow from seed
- Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis grow from established plants available at most nurseries (larger perennials in 1/2 gallon or larger pots)
- Peppermint Mentha piperita divisions or starts
- Purple Cone Flower Echinacea angustifolia if available, or purpurea established plants from the nursery
- Red Clover Trifolium pratense, grow from seed
Mark out the shape of a garden bed that will be 50-70 square feet. For this particular plan, the area is 5 feet by 10 feet and is intended to be placed at the edge of your property or against a fence or other obstacle. In other words, it should be viewed from the sides or the front (thyme is in front) for the best display. Feel free to design your own bed shape. If aesthetics are not a concern for you, an old ladder can be placed on the ground, and one of each herb can be planted between the rungs.
If you will be planting where there is now a lawn or grass, try the following easy method of ground preparation to prevent having to till the soil. Lay down a thick layer of color-free newspapers. Soy based ink is best and be sure that no colored print is on them. Use 17 layers of paper for most lawns, or 25 layers for lawns with persistant weeds. Weight down the papers with a few bricks or rocks, then cover all the paper with 1/2 inch to 2 inches of compost, potting soil, grass clippings, or any organic matter that is free of seeds. If you can afford it, bark mulch is very attractive.
Set the sprinkler on the area for about three hours to slowly soak everything down, and let it all sit for at least a week. When you are ready to plant, cut an X in the deteriorating paper and pop the plant in. Start indoors the plants that you will be growing from seed. Don't worry if it is late in the season when you are starting the seeds, most of these herbs are perennials and the garden plot will only be improved by the winter wait, but allow them at least a month or two before the first frost date so their roots can take hold before the chill. I like to start new beds using this method in late autumn or early spring and try to let it 'rot' for about a month before planting.
Be sure to plant the peppermint, catnip and lemon balm in containers without bottoms or they will take over faster than an alien invasion. Click on the diagram above to magnify and see more details. Five gallon buckets or plastic flower pots with the bottoms cut off work great for this. Sink the containers into the soil until the rim of the pot is 2 or 3 inches above the soil/mulch line. This will prevent these plants from spreading over the entire garden. Use any shape of planter to design interesting growth forms. The other plants will spread and grow but with average harvesting, they should stay in their spots pretty well.
Any questions? Send an e-mail.