Spring officially began for my husband with the crack of the bat on the baseball diamonds across the country (I seriously had to butt in here and get this thing back on track). Mine started the moment we began to plan our garden this year.
Spring is here, and it’s the perfect time to plant a new garden. We decided to plant an herb and vegetable garden this year: the herbs for me and my holistic medicine classes, the vegetables for him (and some herbs) for the kitchen creations he makes every day. Since we are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, we are focusing on real, natural ingredients from the earth’s soil, using real, natural (non GMO) seeds.
My plan is to start harvesting the herbs so that the medicinal herbs can assist us in a more holistic lifestyle, therefore taking the place of those medicines that we have used in the past for minor therapeutic needs (e.g, minor scrapes and bruises as well as headache relief and colds). What sense of pride I will feel in knowing that I took part in the process of bringing these plants to life from seed to leaf!
Here I should note that I am a novice when it comes to gardening. My husband, who will assist me in creating and producing this garden, has the experience. So I will rely on his knowledge and the evolving understanding that I am gaining from my study in Herbs 101: Basics of herbalism to get us through.
Our garden consists of our backyard, side yard, and driveway (see our daughter’s sketch above).
We will also be planting some kitchen herbs inside our home so that it will be easy for us to grab as we cook. Follow our steps to get your garden in the ground. Come summer when food is canned, veggies are juiced and even bath products created, you’ll thank me (I hope? Fingers crossed… like I said, I’m new to this!)
To be successful we took into account several key factors:
Sunlight is a huge factor in our mountain landscape. Our yard gets different degrees of sun, so it is critical that we decide which plants grow best in everything from full shade to full sun. Based on this, we have decided on the following herbs and vegetables:
Backyard (receives full sun exposure about 7-8 hours each day) –
Yarrow, Comfrey, Coriander, Tarragon and the following vegetables: eggplants, peppers, green beans and zucchini.
Side Yard (partial shade and sun – receives sun exposure about 3-4 hours per day) –
Lavender, Lemon Balm and the following vegetables: kale, arugula, carrots, spinach, radishes, beets, lettuce
Wood Planter (outside door, partial shade and sun) –
Peppermint, Roman Chamomile
Front yard (full shade exposure due to a large pine tree that serves as a canopy for this area) –
Valerian, Oregano, Parsley
Kitchen Windowsill (good sun through window, with greenhouse effect) – Culinary herbs: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil (he’s an Italian after all).
Wine barrel planters (Best access to sun along back driveway): Basil,tomatoes and celery
Our soil is sandy with a high degree of care over the years. It has been bolstered by natural composting on our property and augmented by my husband with natural fertilizers and locally produced mulches. It is excellent loam and sand that is easy to work with.
Because of the quality of the soil the drainage is excellent as well. The property has a gradual slope throughout that resists pooling. It is relatively free from rocks and other materials.
Our herb and vegetable garden will primarily be kept secure because we live on a (mostly) fenced property. Our home, which includes the backyard and side yards are fenced all the way around, which will keep foragers out of the garden. We have a lively deer population in our community that roam the streets on a regular basis.
I love them, but friends with gardens that aren’t fenced aren’t so thrilled. This brings us to our driveway, which has my husband’s prime crop of tomatoes for his homemade Italian sauce. This is not fenced, and since this is where we will keep old wine barrels planted with tomatoes and basil this will require us to create some fencing to protect our herbs and vegetables.
As I mention this my husband says, “oh shit.”
So I guess this remains a point of planning we need to address, but as it doesn’t pertain to my herbs, we’ll forgo that planning for another day.
We have purchased four, 50-pound bags of local mulch from compost that will serve as our primary fertilizer. We also are going to visit a unique, local organic gardening store to purchase natural additives like worms and pest repellents to protect our plants. We are building a rain barrel to catch rain water in the wet spring season that will be used to water during the hot summer months. If necessary we have a drip irrigation system on the city well for watering.
This is the coolest part of our new garden. I never knew the buddy-system would be so helpful in planting a garden. But it is and it explains some of the decisions we made above.
Upon watching the video from my coursework, Coulter Garden II, Companion Planting, I decided that I wanted to ensure that I included some herbs that could mutually benefit each other. I decided to plant the following together:
Peppermint, Roman Chamomile together will help to increase the essential oil produced from the peppermint.
Basil and tomatoes are great companion plants because basil is said to make the tomatoes taste better.
Lavender and Lemon Balm are great additions. The Lavender attracts butterflies, while Lemon Balm attracts bees essentially keeping away some of your garden pests such as fleas and moths.
Tarragon is said to be an herb that not many pests like and is also said to enhance the flavors of most vegetables. For this reason I am planting it among eggplants, peppers, green beans and zucchini.
When considering which herbs I was going to grow in my garden I researched both medicinal and culinary herbs. I knew that whichever herbs I grew, I would be using them in the ways that nature intended that they be used. For example, according to my etexbook, Comfrey is a good skin ointment and has been known to be used on minor scrapes and sprains. Most important to remember is this warning about Comfrey it is toxic to the liver and should never be taken internally.
This weekend we finished prepping the soil. Today we are going to get the seeds. Later this week the first phase of “early planting” will be in the ground.
Spring is here!