[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grow Your Own Medicinal Herb Garden

I've been growing a little city garden every year for about 5 years now. In all honesty, much of it has been hit or miss and I'm just beginning to truly learn how to grow plants that flourish. This year I'm growing purely medicinal (most of which are also culinary) herbs in our little space, along with about 5 different heirloom tomato varieties. There are two things I've learned that are key in growing a city garden (and I'm sure I have many more to learn going forth): soil quality and preparation is a MUST, and know your plants well and what they like (how much sun, how much water, how close to other plants). There are many places you can research where to buy seeds and how to grow a city garden. Edible Gardens is a wonderful resource for buying heirloom seeds. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an excellent book by Barbara Kingsolver about a year in the life of her family growing their own food. If you live in Chicago, utilize Green City Market (open Wednesdays and Saturdays until end of October) to build on the knowledge available to you from the farmers themselves that come to sell their organic produce and are ultimately the ones that know their stuff best. When I go back to Colombia they always serve agua aromatica after a meal, which consists of any amalgam of herbs available in their garden or that they have bought and is used to aid digestion. In the meantime, I'll share the beginning of my little city medicinal garden and a few tidbits on what common garden herbs can be used for. If you have any great growing tips, herbs you like to grow, or herbs I haven't mentioned here to share, please do below!

Thyme : clears lung congestion, has an antiseptic action, relieves colds, soothes painful joints

: stimulates the liver, increases bile flow, alleviates skin conditions, lowers blood pressure, acts as a diuretic

Parsley : stimulates breast milk, alleviates menstrual cramps, reduces bladder inflammations

Basil : alleviates menstrual cramps, warms colds and chills, reduces stomach inflammation

: calms anxiety, insomnia, and irritability, relieves tension headaches

Oregano : soothes flatulence, indigestion, and bloating, promotes menstruation, relieves headaches

Chives : treat bruises and swellings, promote circulation, treats phlegm and loose stools

Lemon Balm : antiviral and antibacterial, calms nervous system, soothes panic attacks, relieves depression

Dill : relieves nausea, aids digestion, reduces colic

Coriander/Cilantro : soothes digestion, antibacterial

Mint : aids digestion, eases menstrual cramps, flatulence, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting

Chiles (chillies) : energizing, reviving, warming for colds and chills, antibacterial

(10 days after planting everything is flourishing)

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