Herbs in the Garden: Nourishment and Remedies

Springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, blossoms on the trees and the beginning of a parade of flowers. One of my favorite activities is planting seeds and watching them germinate. Only God can package life in a tiny seed!

A couple years ago I planted nettle seeds—a herb that I was familiar with as a tea. To my delight, little nettle plants sprouted and the plants have come back each year. (I keep them in a pot in a secluded location. The leaves and stems have little hairs that sting when touched; I wear gloves harvesting.)

Stinging Nettle

Susun Weed writes in her book, Herbal for the Childbearing Year*:

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chlorophyll content make it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.

I have enjoyed nettle tea and have added nettle to soups. When the leaves are cooked the sting is gone. In an old Swedish cook book, I found a recipe for nettle soup.

I have planted seeds for calendula flowers outside and they have begun to sprout. Calendula is a favorite herb in my garden.

The book, Essential Herbs: Treat Yourself Naturally with Herbs and Homemade Remedies** has this note about calendula flowers:

Traditionally said to lift the spirits and encourage cheerful ness, calendula is one of the most popular and versatile medicinal herbs in current use. It is widely available in commercial calendula ointments and creams and is also used internally . . .  

Calendula flower

 I have made myself calendula tea. I have used the tea as a mouthwash for gum irritations and it has brought healing. I have also made calendula salve for skin irritations.

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*Susun Weed, Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Woodstock, New York: Ash Tree Publishing, 1986, p.2

**J. Behrens, S. Curtis, L. Green, P. Ody, D. Vilinac, Essential Herbs, New York : DK Publishing, 2020 p. 60

Spring is Here : Looking Forward to Flowers and Herbs!

It is the first day of Spring and I am looking forward to the appearance of flowers and herbs. The snowdrops are up, and the robins have returned. The hyacinths are beginning to poke through the thawing soil.

Before long the violets will be blooming. I plan to gather these delicate flowers from an area of the yard that has not been sprayed with any chemicals to make candied violets. See a recipe here.

Every year I add another herb to my gardens. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that support health. Rosemary, thyme and sage all grow easily. Here is a recipe for potatoes with rosemary and thyme.

I have planted some stinging nettle seeds in a container. I hope to plant them in a corner of the yard that has little traffic. The leaves of this plant sting—similar to stinging ants. The young leaves must be harvested carefully (gloves). When the leaves are boiled they lose their sting. The benefit of this herb is the rich mineral content. Nettle tea is sold in health food stores. I first noticed a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cook book. Here is an on-line recipe for nettle soup.

In a time period when many worry about infectious disease, it is a good idea to think about ways to improve the nutritional support of our immune system. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. At one time I thought the purpose of herbs was flavor, but now I know they enrich our food.

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Petite Purple Irises and Stinging Nettle

It is the last day of February and my dwarf irises are blooming. I was surprised to see their purple petals as I returned home from a weekend trip. Winter isn’t over, but my tulip and hyacinth bulbs are sprouting leaves.

Dwarf Iris

What will our spring be like? My thoughts turn to garden plans. Every year I like to introduce a new plant to my herb garden.

It is so convenient to have fresh herbs for the kitchen. I have thyme for chicken and broth, sage for turkey, rosemary for potatoes and soups, chocolate mint for coffee, tarragon for salad dressing and basil for pesto and tomato sauce.

This year I want to add stinging nettle. I am familiar with nettle tea, having read about it in the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chorophyll content makes it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.*

The New American Herbal has more information about this plant. It is called stinging nettle because the leaves have fine hairs that cause pain and inflammation when touched. It is important to wear rubber gloves when harvesting the leaves of this plant.

Properly handled with gloves and long sleeves the leaves can be easily gathered and then neutralized by the heat of cooking . . . Once you know how to respect them, you’ll find nettles deliciously mild with a deep nutty green taste and a slightly minty finish. **

I saw a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cookbook. I think the nettle leaves would be a good addition to broth—adding good mineral content as well as flavor.

And so I will order some stinging nettle seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Then I have to decide on a safe place to grow them—perhaps in a container.

Do you have some garden plans?

*Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Ash Tree Publishing: Woodstock, New York, 1986, p. 2

**Stephen Orr, The New American Herbal, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2014, p. 330

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