All this lovely rain and warmth have brought our herbal medicinal and tea garden back to life. Please check the chalkboard for the herbs ready to harvest. There are specific times in the growth cycle of each plant during which its attributes are optimal and it is beneficial for the herb to be cut. Please follow the cutting guide on each yellow dot.
“How much do I take?” Rule of thumb is how much you will use in a week:
- Brewing teas
- Making an extract
- Adding to meals and baked goods
- Hanging to dry
- Making a topical
- On and on . . . .
Some herbs have a small optimal window, others are available all summer. I am featuring three herbs in this note which are available now. Follow the yellow dots, ask questions and do research. Most of all, enjoy the garden!
Book of the week: Making Plant Medicine Richo Cech ISBN-13: 978-0970031235
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop is a sweet-smelling herb that is a member of the mint family. Its beautiful blue, pink, purple and white flowers are often planted by gardeners to attract bees and butterflies. Hyssop is mentioned in the Bible and throughout history. It has been noted as a cleansing herb with many uses.
Hyssop is an expectorant and antispasmodic herb, helping to suppress coughs and help clear the lungs of phlegm. There is a topical chest rub made with hyssop and mullein. The fragrance is also very clearing. Hyssop is known to stimulate digestion by increasing the production of digestive enzymes, stomach acid and bile.
Typical use is dried in tea, and as a tincture. Harvest by cutting 8” long stems as noted on the cutting guide on the yellow dot. Wash, bundle to hang and dry.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
The patron herb of bees, lemon balm encourages a bounty of sweetness in the world—not only does it gladden the heart, but it’s traditionally planted near honeybee hives to dissuade the bees from swarming (they adore lemon balm’s aroma).
With bright green leaves that waft an uplifting lemony fragrance into the air, lemon balm is known to levitate the spirit. It is a brightening and oh so gentle nervine remedy for melancholy, mild anxiety, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and mild depression. With relaxing, antispasmodic and gently sedative qualities, it’s also indicated for tension headaches, stress-related insomnia, panic attacks accompanied by heart palpitations, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and overexcitement, or restlessness in children.
Lemon balm will be available all summer. Harvest by following cutting guide on the yellow dot. Wash, bundle to hang and dry. To make a cup of tea, use dried or fresh leaves, add a light mint (apple mint, common mint) and some honey.
Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Wood betony is used to relieve headaches, neuralgia, stomach and abdominal problems, bloating, heartburn, and gas. Mildly carminative, the plant improves digestion and gently stimulates the production and release of bile from the liver and gallbladder into the digestive tract.
It can be helpful for anxiety, tension and mental discomfort. Betony lets you relax and settle in, helping you feel more at home in your body. A simple tea, tincture or elixir of the aerial parts (leaves and flowers) is all you need. Betony is a great herb for headaches of all types due to its downward-drawing of directionality and its capacity to releasing tension in constricted muscles, particularly those of the head and neck.
Cut stems, flower and leaves according to cutting guide on the yellow dot. Wash, bundle and hang to dry for use in teas and tinctures. Betony tea has a bittersweet/astringent flavor.