does anyone plant medicinal herbs too?

novice_2009(zone 6b)April 4, 2009

I've planted culinary herbs before, basil, parsley, dill.

Basil did ok i guess. However, this year I'm also making a separate bed on the west side of my house, gets 4 hours of afternoon sun, and I plan on planting some basic, medicinal herbs native to my area.

I was just wondering if anyone plant medicinal herbs also, and do you keep them separate from your veggies and culinary herbs? If so, what have you planted and how did it do?

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My collection of medicinals starts at Agrimony and ends with Yarrow. You'd be surprised how many "ornamentals" and "culinary" plants are also medicinal. Roses are the example that leaps to mind. Most are perennials, so I use them everywhere in the garden. There is a large pot of Aloe in the sunny window of my kitchen so that it's close to hand for burns. There is also a large group of them in the hot, dry bed by my front gate where nothing else grows.
Comfrey is an attractive plant with pretty flowers. I make poultices with the leaves for my soccer-playing daughter.
Purple Sage (Salvia offinalis var purpurea) has gorgeous leaves and flowers. It needs a bit of TLC here, so it's planted at the edge of the vegetable bed where I can keep an eye on it. I make throat gargles, pick-me-up teas, wound washes as well as cooking with it. (although Bergarten sage has superior flavour)
I have a hedge of rosemary, and several kinds of lavender, either for medicines or eating. Yarrow is a valuable groundcover here, so is Chamomile.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 5:50PM
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I find it impossible to draw any line between 'culinary' and 'medicinal' herbs in most cases. Thing is, that all culinary herbs have medicinal uses, too. The only 'medicinal only' herb I have in my herb-only garden is aloe vera. Otherwise all my herbs are jumbled in together.

I no longer grow vegetables (which I regard as herbs because they also have medicinal as well as culinary uses) because I'm no longer able to cook for myself, but when I did, they found themselves in amongst the rest - the evening primrose and the basil with the lettuce and tomatoes, and the echinacea and the orris and the rosemary and the agrimony, chillies and nasturtium, and pyrethrum and oregano - not to mention a lemon and an orange tree and a chaste-tree........

It's wild and disorderly, in a cottage-garden way, but very pretty. Here in the subtropics, there's something in flower all year round.

How did/do I do it? If there's a space, I fill it with something!! And if there's no space (my garden is very tiny - just a courtyard), or if it's a rampant weed like mint, it goes into a pot. Pots are good for growing root crops like carrots or turmeric or ginger, when you're unable to dig; or for something you want to keep small, like a bay tree, or manageable, like lemongrass.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 5:53PM
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Most of garden herbs have some medicinal benefits.
But there are non-herb medicinal plants as well, like it is mentioned in starter's first post (yarrow, ..)
Last year I came accross with ST.JOHNS WORT PLANT. I planted it. Surprisingly I found out that it is perenial and a good creeper. So plant some of that.
St Johns Wort is one of the wonder plants. All of its parts are medicinal. It is an excellent mood enhanser(brew it as tea, fresh or dried) and very beneficial for immune system, to the degree that can be beneficial fighting AIDS. Camomile is another one. It has nice blooms and its flower/seeds are good tonic for nerve system. There are of course more.

so lets here your favorite medicinal herbs and plants that can be grown in pots or in the garden.
Do not forget GARLIC. It is the wonder vegatable of all times, helps lower Blood pressure cholestrole, fight cold/flu, disinfects/heals wounds more.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 6:47AM
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Although I have herbs growing everywhere in the flower beds, the vegetable garden and the cutting garden, too, my "official" herb garden is divided into 4 parts with an x-shaped walkway between the sections. One section is devoted to perennial culinary herbs, one to annual culinary herbs, one to medicinal herbs, and my favorite - the scented herbs - where I have a bench to rest and enjoy the wonderful smells. That's where I keep scented geraniums, lavender, a lot of the mints, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, etc. In the center of the x is a potted bay tree which is over 20 years old and about 4 feet high. My herb garden is where I renew myself.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:47AM
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Hi Barbe

Your herb garden design sound verly nice.
It is good to have perenials in separate section and annuals separate.

My herb garden is host mostly for perenials. With few annuals like dills and summer savory. I plant annualls like basils, cilantro in Other locationn. I may have couple of basils in my herb garden as well.
I have a slightly raised round bed of about 6 foot in diameter. As you can see it is not big and I do not need walkway. At the center I have things That I do not use them that much; lik lavender, lemon Balm.sage. So I just walk around it and pick things I need. So far I have flat leave chives (onion and garlic varietie), flowering chives, leaks, Parsley(flat & curly),
Winter Savory, Chervil. The annuals are: summer savory, cress, dills, marjoram.
I will add more this year.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 11:33PM
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I like to keep the medicinals separate so it's easier to keep the grandkids and other children out of it. They seem to like to "sample" everything and by having one section with a big "no-no" rock (my plants are labeled with painted rocks), they know the stuff in it isn't edible. I also have little rocks painted black with a skull-and-crossbones in white beside each plant that they shouldn't eat.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 1:21PM
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Thanks Barbe and everybody else

If you don't mind please talk about the medicinal benefits of your plants. I love herbs and am a believer in the healing power of natural foods, vegetable and especially herbs. I eat a lot of thaem raw as well as in cooking.
The ones that I eat raw (as salad) are: parsley, chives, scallions, cilantro, sesame leaves, and garden cress.

I have a question: Can you grow yellow root (turmeric) in zone 8? I know that it is native to India.
I buy fresh roots from Asian market and dry them and grind them in my coffee mill. This way it is much fresher. Turmeric has some medicinal benefits to. I think it helps in metabulism of blood sugar.
OK! enough for now.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:23PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Hi novice_2009,

I often grow my veggies and herbs together. And like daisy, I consider food plants to be herbs in their own right with medicinal effects. I generally subscribe to the Hippocrates thought of letting your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food. As such, I generally don't separate plants into medicinal, culinary, or food categories. Many plants can fall into multiple categories.

And like barbe_wa, if there is something that the younglings shouldn't be munching on, I keep that in other garden beds and not with the veggies. Of course I spend a great deal of time teaching the young ones about plant identification and safety because you can't always be present and kids should know enough to make smart choices.

The herbs that I like to interplant in the veggie beds the most are the blooming herb plants, like chamomile, borage, calendula, and others. The flowers attract beneficial pollinators and that is good for all the veggies that require insect pollination to set fruit.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 9:52AM
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Turmeric prefers a warm, humid climate and will not grow in cold climates. In temperate areas, protect from frost and place near a warm wall, in a greenhouse or in a large pot. It must be watered and fed often. In cooler areas, cover it with a grow mat or plastic bag in early spring to speed up new growth. Take the bag off as soon as new leaves appear. Soil should be well-drained.

Here in the subtropics, the leaves die right down to nothing in our mild winters, and it's amongst the last starters-up in spring. I keep mine in a pot so that there's no danger of my forgetting where it is!

It's the 2yo roots which are harvested, but I've used 1yos even though they're quite small. There is just no comparison between fresh turmeric and the dried stuff! Fresh is wonderful - but you have to be careful with it because it makes an excellent dye!

Turmeric has a multitude of medicinal uses - almost as many as garlic.

Freshly extracted juice is taken orally as a general tonic or to treat stomach ailments (including digestive problems) and illnesses with generalised weakness. The rhizomes are dried and powdered for use as a culinary spice or made into a paste for cosmetic use and to treat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. As a wash, it is good for treating tinea. Its antiseptic qualities make it a good treatment for cuts and minor burns. Regular use of turmeric is beneficial to the liver. It may lower blood cholesterol levels and it is also anti-inflammatory. A tea of the root is used to treat anaemia, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asthma, bursitis, candida, coughs, eczema, gallstones, liver problems (hepatitis and jaundice), obesity and menstrual problems. A poultice of the roots is used to treat tinea, bruises, swellings and cuts.

Warning: Turmeric will stain clothes and skin. Avoid if suffering from gallstones, jaundice or hepatitis. Avoid if suffering from blood-clotting disorders. Unusually large amounts may result in stomach upset. Best avoided during pregnancy because of its uterine stimulant properties.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Thanks DAISY

It is incredible. I use powder turmeric in just about every cooking. Even I use it with oatmeals for breakfast.
I have never tried making tea from fresh root.
Right now I am drying some roots.
I also use garlig and ginger in all my cookings. I thinly slice fresh ginger and drop them in my tear and coffee pot.

I tell you, internet is the greatest thing ever happened. I learn something everyday.

TODAY: I learned things about an herb called KOREAN SHISO.
In Asian/korean market they sell its leaves and call it SESAME LEAVES. But actually it is not semame. This herb/veggie has incredible aroma and taste, which is due to some oil in it. It is said that the leave can act like preservative, among other things.
This is an annual which grows 3 to 4 feet tall(if not pinched) and last till frost. It can seed itself and/or you can save its seeds.
I planted it last year , with the wrong impresion tht it is sesame plant.
Some of the fallen seeds from last year are growing already and I have my own seeds and some from last year that I bought from Korean Market as well.

I am not planting it in my herb garden though because my garden is small and this plant grows very large. But you can keep pinching its top and branches to keep it short and bushy.
Last year, not knowing what to expect, I planted about 10 of them. I kept using it fresh all summer and after frost
I dried 3 plants which I have lots of dried leaves.
I also picked some very large leaves ( almost size of my hand) and freezed them in small bags.

So if you are an herb enthusiast, this should be in your garden as well.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 11:29PM
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Perilla is a very pretty plant, but boy oh boy does it self-seed! Prolifically, far and wide. It's the very devil to get rid of for that reason. I had to get rid of mine because it attracted plagues of grasshoppers to my garden. They demolished the perilla, then decimated the rest of my plants, including an entire orange tree! Then they came back again to start on the perilla volunteers as they appeared. I don't want to go through that again. It was the same with the amaranthus, which I'll also never get again. Must be something attractive to grasshoppers with reddish-coloured leaves.

If you do get a turmeric plant going, use the fresh root (grated) instead of the powdered stuff. You'll notice an enormous improvement. If you can grow ginger, you can grow turmeric. Both like much the same conditions, and behave in much the same way. My ginger always dies down in winter, and is a late starter in spring.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 4:07AM
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High Daisy

1- how do you know that grasshoppers came just because of your perila plants? If they could eat orange tree leaves they can eat anything. When they are hungry, they would eat just about any thing. Of course they may have preferences like caterpillars.Luckily we don't have grasshoppers around here. I remember in Missouri they were everywher.

2- getting rid of self-seeded plants is easy; just pull them up. in my gardens thousands of weeds(unwanted plants) grow all the time, in the spring before being able to mulch.I find weeding meditational and relaxing.
There is a chance to get closer to soil, relieve that mental static charge into the ground.

On the other hand, as gardeners and humans we have to cope with the elements. I get stung with red ants all the time, when I touch their nests by accidents. beetles, mildew, white flies are fighting for their share. we can put a fight without getting mad. Like hemingway says in his novel"Old man and The sea";

O' fish, you are my brother but I have to kill you.(paraphrase)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 9:07AM
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Begin with no grasshoppers. Plant perilla. Grasshoppers appear in plague numbers. They are seen to be concentrating on the perilla, but there are so many of them that some must feed elsewhere. Perilla is stripped to nothing, the grasshoppers disappear. Perilla begins to recover, grasshoppers return. And so it goes.

It didn't take a lot of working out! 2+2 usually turns out to be 4 when I have my thinking cap on.

I am a disabled person, so weeding is an impossible task for me. I'm very fortunate to have an interstate friend who visits every 2-3 months to help me out.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 3:42AM
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I have never planted medicinal herbs, but would like to! =) What are a few good starter plants that I could get seed for in the next week or so and plant now in my zone? Zone 6, Middle TN. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Peace - Steve

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 12:31AM
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Hi. I smush everything together whereever it will fit-- herbs, veggies, fruits, vines, flowers, native plants, must-take-in-in-the-winter-pots... This year I will have Schizandra growing up the house with wisteria, morning glory & Virgin's bower; Nanking cherry, Jerusalem artichokes, basil, thyme, St. Johnswort & chard by the driveway; mints *sigh* everywhere; lungwort next to lilies next to keria japonica; 3-sisters with nasturtiums amidst gotu kola; currants & strawberries next to lobelias & calendulas, pumpkins in the compost....

Milk sprayed early in the season takes care of fungus; garlic by the roses & a mason jar of alcohol on hand takes care of beetles, praying mantis are perpetually welcomed, compost takes care of everything else.

If you don't want grasshoppers, get chickens. They LOVE them. But they will eat every single leaf off your strawberries and lay eggs in your car if you leave the windows down!(& in the mailman's)

BTW, I live in the middle of a city on a slightly larger than average city lot. The previous resident planted fruit: plum, pear, apple & peach-- which are really old & yield via windfall mostly. Sometimes we get to it before the bees & squirrels.... Oh, yeah, we have honeybees, but we're not sure where they're actually living....

You can grow a lot in a little space, which really helps when trying to remember where you put that last plant... But grow what you really & only want. We've cut out all the food no one will ever eat (a lot of which is "typical" of a home garden) or that takes up too much space & which we can get cheaply at a farmer's market.

Sometimes the yard is overwhelming.

.... & some summers, I'm the only one on the block who has lightening bugs.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 1:04AM
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Uh, P.S., I guess.... Steve, what are you going to USE? Easy medicinal herbs to grow in middle TN: sun: garlic, calendula, St. Johnswort, lavender, basil (get plants--takes too long in Z6 to start from seed), thyme, all mints... shade: sweet woodruff, lungwort, hepatica, wild ginger.... look for perennials that are hardy to your zone (ex., Rosemary isn't so you might want to grow it in a pot & take it in in the winter). Chives are. Just about any annual will make it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 1:11AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

tn_veggie_gardner, article linked in for you....


Here is a link that might be useful: Start An Herb Garden Article

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 9:47AM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Wow! What a big response. This is a good forum, herbs.
I use basil, sweet and thai, as only culinary. This year I'm doing rosemary, spearmint in containers, from seed. I got a small lemon balm plant, love it! I had to put the peat pot in a container, and everytime I put it out it wilts! Oh well. Planting cilantro in container also, love it! My medicinal herbs I'm planting from seed I'm a little nervous about, they are important, and wondering about sun, shade, moisture. Some of them: stinging nettle, bee balm, calendula, echinacea, chamomile, catnip, spearmint, peppermint, St. John's Wort, and more. Want to keep chamomile close to veggie garden. Just an instinct. There are some other herbs, evening primrose... Just looking for experience and advice. Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:39AM
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I grow over 300 herbs. I love ALL the uses of herbs: culinary, medicinal, fragrance, craft, whatever. Novice, stinging nettle grows with great abandon and likes sun or part shade with some moisture (but well drained soil). It spreads by runners and seeds. Don't plant it in a place where you will have to reach over it to get the herb behind it. Bee balm also likes a bit of moisture and can thrive in full sun to shade. Calendula is a beautiful annual that will self sow to some extent if you leave some flowers to go to seed. Echinacea is a prairie plant and as such prefers full sun and slightly dry soil. It can adapt to other soils however. Chamomile. It's an annual, but will self-sow like crazy! And you can't pick every single flower to stop it. I have it coming up everywhere, but it is easy enough to pluck out. Catnip is pretty adaptable to a wide variety of soils. Spearmint and peppermint can spread far and wide, but isn't the monster in my zone 5 garden that some people describe. St. John's wort - make sure you have Hypericum perforatum if you are using it for medicine. The other ornamental St. John's don't have the healing virtues. You might try Tammi Hartung's book, 'Growing 101 Herbs That Heal' or something to that effect. Lots of good advice on growing.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 5:34AM
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I highly recommend Horehound. It is a very bitter medicinal herb, generally recognized as useful in bronchial conditions. It likes a very well-drained position, and grows best for me in above-ground pots. It needs protection from faster growing plants--it is OK near things like Thyme and the smaller forms of Sage, but definitely not the Mints.

Valerian is useful for nervous conditions, and has a fragrant inflorescence. It grows fairly tall but is an attractive plant.

Comfrey is pretty close to being a rank weed similar to Mullein but I like to use it in places that would otherwise attract true weeds. It is a bully and will grow straight up at first, then let its stalks fall down, shading out anything in a 3 to 4 foot diameter. It can be used externally for injuries.

Skullcap is also a rather attractive plant with interesting flower has grown well for me and even reseeded itself lightly.

Feverfew is good for migraine headaches, and is a small and rather attractive fern-like leaved little daisy-type plant that grows in attractive clumps. It works by doing something irreversible to smooth muscle, so should be used with caution.

There are many medicinal herbs that treat similar conditions, so it's really more practical to try to discover the ones that do best in your area, for the conditions you want, and try to grow those. If you ask in the forums for your area, posters can tell you what has done well for them in that zone.

Also, some really good medicinal herbs are either so large that you wouldn't want them to share a bed with the others, or so tiny that they really do better with the protection of their own pot.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 3:11AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Eating a wide variety of fresh plant based foods will do more for your health in most cases than any combination of herbal remedies. Being healthy starts with a healthy diet, and for most of us it doesn't take much more than that.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 5:46PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Thanks you guys! I was careful by using Peterson's Field
Guide to eastern native plants in picking some of the ones I wanted to grow, as I live in Southern Tenn. I wanted to keep it native, but couldn't help but expand a little outside! Using some other books I have, and Horizon Herbs, I've been able to get the true seeds, not hybrids. I'm just having trouble figuring out- can this tolerate some shade? If it can, does it require moisture and what else can I plant in this shady, moist area? My other garden, full sun to part shade, well drained soil. I'm taking a course in herbalism that requires a sketch of my herb garden, but it's just not that easy. I'll plant what I want, where I think it will do well. Just got some sage, yay! Love all herbs. Thanks simplemary, herbalbetty, and all others with input! Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:01PM
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brendan-- herbs are food. Yes, even the topical ones. If you treat them as such, and incorporate them into your diet on a regular (but as-needed basis), you will be even healthier.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 1:23AM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Wow, herbalbetty! 300 herbs. You have a lot of experience and knowledge i know. All native "weeds" can actually be medicinal, and used for food. Other than what i'm planting, i can't wait to go on the hunt to see what i can find.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 10:39PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Many of the "weeds" people so revile are not native but naturalized plants. Dandelion and a number of others are originally from Europe or Asia. Petersons and many other guides will note alien plants (in the US).

If you don't apply weedkillers to your lawn, your lawn may end up like mine. Besides grass it has plantain, dandelion, chickweed, selfheal, yarrow, ground ivy, violets, wild garlic, chicory, red clover, and occasionally even yellow dock and burdock. Quite the mowable herb patch that created itself!


    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 8:37AM
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And it smells good, too!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 11:02PM
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