Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grow Your Own Drugs

After yesterday's I-hate-crafting meltdown, I spent the evening focusing on something I really enjoy: gardening. I'm new at gardening too but it does not try to thwart me as crafting projects do. I plant, I water, I pull weeds, I kill bugs, I eat well. It really is that easy. 

It's almost time to plant our winter garden. Here in the valley, seeds should be in the ground no later than the 15th of September. At least that's what the local garden expert on NPR said. I believe him. I guess it's only fair. We harvest pretty much year round except these few sweltering summer months. While people are enjoying fresh summer tomatoes we are pulling their withered corpses off the vines and tossing them into the compost pile. We don't have a traditional "harvest time" at the end of the summer. We have "pull-up-the- plants-that-the-sun-killed-and-plant-for-winter time."

We sat down and plotted out the beds. Along with the usual suspects I want to plant potatoes which we haven't tried yet and luffah gourds, which you can dry and use as sponges. And, I would like to use one of the smaller beds to plant a medicinal herb garden.

Just like the vegetable garden, picking what to grow in my medicinal garden was the hardest part. I decided to make a list of my families most common ailments and then match those ailments with the proper herbal remedies. For my family, we are most commonly afflicted with:

Urinary Tract Infections
Cuts and Scrapes

I picked herbs that would be effective in treating the above ailments, as well as by how familiar I am with them. No use in growing some obscure plant that I'm afraid to use. I also picked plants that I just plain like because they are pretty and they smell good. These so-called "decorative" herbs I hope to use in homemade beauty treatments; lotions, soaps and the like. The list was long but space is limited. Here's what made the final cut:

Calendula-used for antiseptic and healing properties

German Chamomile-tummy soother and baby calmer

Echinacea-immune booster, good for fighting off colds

Lemon Balm-smells good, tastes good

Peppermint-settles stomach and I love it!

Spearmint-same as above

Feverfew-chewing a few leaves can relieve a headache

Goldenseal-good for urinary tract infections by keeping bacteria from adhering to bladder walls

Meadowsweet-helps with diarrhea, indigestion and heartburn

Garlic-multitude of uses but I'd like to experiment with it for ear infections

Lavender-it's my favorite!

The seeds have been ordered and soon I'll be growing my own drugs. I've been researching home herbalist courses that I can take correspondence style since my job as a stay at home Mommy prevents me from attending classes full time. If after completing the correspondence course I feel the need to dive deeper into study, I'll look into a more formal training program. For now I'm just excited that I will be able to care for my family on a whole new level.  Instead of running to the drugstore or the doctor's office for every little thing, I'll be able to walk into my backyard and find something that will help them feel better. There is a great sense of peace in knowing I hold the power to heal. I can't wait to see my seedlings sprout!


  1. Ok, this is really exciting. I love that when facing frustrations with one thing, you turned to another. "There is a great sense of peace in knowing that I hold the power to heal" is a great line. You do...we all do, but we've FORGOTTEN that truth. Thanks for this...I may have to plant some mint!

  2. Also...there is a book called "A Language Older than Words" which when I think about'd really love. About our earth, our animals and the reasons why we need to save the disappearing bees. Derrik Jensen is the author, I think.

  3. Fantastic post!
    I am a big fan of herbs, growing, gathering, using.
    I grow echinacea (for tinctures), calendula and comfrey (for salves), red clover (for syrup) and lemon balm, mint for tea and lavender just for on-the-spot aromatherapy.
    Good luck to you!

  4. I inherited a HUGE herb garden with mature herbs...and I do nothing with them! I can attest to the wonders of garlic oil for earaches. Must pay attention to what's growing there (and find out what some of them are!) least I could make some teas! I'd add comfrey to the list, if you're so did wonders for me when I had a blocked gland in my "nether regions" after giving birth...great for making a healing "tea" in which to soak a healing perineum after birth...also has lots of other purposes...check into it!
    Thanks for you nice comment on my blog today! I think you're pretty too!

  5. Mullein, too! It's a great expectorant. Boil the dried leaves and breathe in the steam. It's amazing how it clears your sinuses and makes you feel soothed. :) Your garden just might have to get a little bit bigger! haha! Check out - they have great healing stuff that you could get some ideas from...

  6. Hi Stephanie

    I also recently came across the concept of growing my own drugs after watching a BBC TV programme featuring James Wong. I got so excited that I ordered two of his books online - I have just received them - they are brilliant. Can't wait to start planting. :-)

    He gives a lot of names of plants which one can grow and details what they are good for.

    Great minds think alike :-)