Calendula is such a fun and beautiful plant to grow! It grows very easily from seed and often self-seeds itself, coming back year after year. And the wonderful thing is the more you harvest the flowers, the more it grows!
Medicinal benefits: Use the fresh flowers to make an infused oil. This can be applied externally on its own or made into a salve to moisturize and heal the skin. The flowers can also be made into tea for internal healing, supporting the lymphatic system, and for brightening the mood.
How to grow: Direct seed into the garden or containers int the spring.
Tulsi is another favorite for growing at home. Related to culinary basil, tulsi is also known as "Holy Basil" because it is highly revered in India where it is from. The leaves and flowers grow plentifully, and similar to calendula the more you harvest the more it grows - simply trimming back the plant a few inches at the nodes will cause it to grow out rather bush-like, making just a few plants enough to supply a small household.
Medicinal benefits: Dry the leaf and flower to make an uplifting, aromatic tea that supports a positive outlook, supports the immune system, and has "adaptogenic" effects - helping our body adapt better to stressors.
How to grow: Start seeds indoors in the spring, or direct seed into the garden.
Ashwagandha is another well-known "adaptogenic" plant famously used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine in India. It's similar to ginseng in its properties, though in an entirely different family and much easier to grow. Though it grows as a perennial in the wild in warm climates of Asia and Africa it can be grown as an annual even in cold places like Vermont.
Medicinal benefits: Harvest the root and dry for making a strong herbal tea (decoction) or tincture. Traditionally it's consumed as a powder, though it can be difficult to powder without the proper tools. Taken daily for a short period of time it can promote deep restful sleep and help to rejuvenate the body with more energy.
How to grow: In cold climates like Vermont it must be started indoors many weeks before the last frost date, and transplanted only after all danger of frost has passed. Some herb farms may have starts available. Harvest the root in the fall close to or right after the first frost.
Chamomile is such a wonderful plan that we love for many reasons! A nice warm cup of chamomile tea is such a relaxing treat for any time of day, but especially for unwinding in the evening. Chamomile is another self-seeding annual, that tends to spread, so once it's well-established you'll have chamomile as long as you'd like!
Medicinal benefits: Chamomile can help to soothe the digestive system, while also relaxing the body as a whole. It also has noticeable mood-uplifting effects, making it quite a delight! Dry the flowers for making into a hot tea any time of year.
How to grow: Direct seed in the spring while it's still cool.
Looking for seeds or starts? Order seeds online or check out our Plant Sale + Seed Swap on May 28th, 2022!
Written by Nick Cavanaugh
This time of year there are so many fun plants coming up! Here are some that are fresh and ready for wildharvesting. Please make sure to harvest plants respectfully: only take what's needed, and not more than 5% of the plants you see. Also only harvest if you're 100% sure of the identification, and if you're sure the location is free from pollutants.
Dandelion is one of our favorite spring plants - so abundant, and so wonderful for many things!
Dandelion leaf: Harvest ideally before flower or early in the season (gets more bitter as time goes on). Cook the greens as you would spinach. To reduce the bitterness you can cook in water then discard the cooking water. Supports digestion and kidneys.
Dandelion root: Harvest soon or in the fall. Dig out the full, deep taproot. Chop into small pieces, dry and use for making an herbal decoction (simmer ~1 tsp. in 1.5 cups water on low heat 10-20 minutes). Makes a good coffee substitute and supports the liver).
Dandelion flower: Yummy to batter, fry and make into fritters! Dandelion wine is another more involved option.
Nettle! One of our other favorite spring herbs. Don't be alarmed by the sting of stinging nettle - it's de-natured upon drying or cooking in water. But harvest either very carefully, or with gloves!
Nettle leaf: Collect the leaves before the plant has gone to flower and cook into soups or by simmering in water for 5-10 minutes. Can make into pesto. Or dry the leaves and use 1-2 tbsp. per cup of water, steep as an overnight infusion. Very high in vitamins and minerals, supports kidneys and skin.
Burdock! This massive plant has a super deep taproot. If you are able to find young plants that haven't begun to grow their flower stalk then you can harvest them, or in the fall when the young plants first come up (don't harvest roots from mature plants with flower stalks or seeds).
Burdock root: Get a good shovel to get this deep taproot! You can cook it as a vegetable in stir fries or soups, or chop into bits, dry and make a decoction (simmer 1 tsp. in 1.5 cups water for 10-20 min.). Supports liver, digestion and skin health.
Mullein! This plant can be harvest either early spring, or in the fall. Harvest leaves when it's still like this photo, hasn't begun to produce a flower stalk.
Mullein leaf: Harvest and dry these wonderful fuzzy leaves and make a tea with 1 tsp./cup hot water, steeped 10-20 min. Soothes a dry irritated cough.
Happy foraging and let us know if you have any questions!
Written by Nick Cavanaugh.
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