Happenings on the Homestead
Sylvan Wind Homestead Blog
The Beneficial Garden
This year I’d like to provide a more educational look into our gardens here at Sylvan Wind we plant. Why we plant it. How we grow and harvest it. You know, all the good stuff! To begin the series, let’s take an “overview” look at some of the plants we’ll be nurturing this season.
So what exactly is a “beneficial” garden? Aren’t they all beneficial? Well, yes. Of course they are. Whether they provide beauty or bountiful harvests, they’re all “beneficial”. I mean beyond that. What flowers, plants and herbs can we add to our gardens to reap health benefits? Mother nature has graciously provided us with a bountiful list of options to help ward off illness and heal our bodies.
Known for it’s calming effects and stress-reducing abilities, lemon balm can easily be found at your local nursery or garden center. It does tend to be rather invasive and can take over it’s place of planting, ensure it plenty of room. Lemon balm is a perennial that thrives in well-drained, but moist soil. It grows well from seed, though a single plant is often enough for a family and responds well to being cut back several times during a growing season. Beyond it’s calming effects, lemon balm is a gentle way to promote sleep. It’s also known as an anti-viral that combats winter cold and flu symptoms. It’s a go-to for treating cold sores and is also a reliable treatment for upset stomach and colic.
Rich in antioxidants, thyme is a wonderful, aromatic addition to any kitchen venture. It contains a number of health-boosting flavonoids including apigenin and thymonin, and is known to be beneficial in increasing the percentage of healthy fats in cell membranes. Containing vitamins C and A, iron, magnesium, copper and fiber, thyme is packed with nutrients! Known for its oil’s antibacterial, expectorant and calming properties, it also has a long list of topical uses. Gout, water retention, menstrual problems and respiratory issues can all be relieved with the use of thyme…and this is just to name a few! It also stimulates the mind, helps with skin conditions and is rumored to help prevent hair loss.
Basil is an aromatic herb species in the mint family containing over 30 different varieties. Well-known for its culinary purposes, it may come as a surprise to many that it also offers an array of health benefits, as well. Packed with antioxidants, magnesium and vitamins, basil is known to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and powerful adaptogen. It’s also beneficial in increasing appetite and reducing the effects of nausea and flatulence.
Sage a very common herb to those engrossed in the culinary which was once used as a meat preservative before the advent of refrigeration. It’s scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derives from the Latin word, salvere, meaning “to be saved”. A very easy plant to grow, it is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also beneficial to your health. Widely considered to be one of the most valuable herbs, it is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and antifungal. One of its most important properties is the ability to effectively fact bacteria, making it an excellent salve for use in the healing of cuts and wounds. It also aids in digestion, relieves cramps, fights colds and helps to dry up phlegm.
Chamomile is a calming, soothing herb, often used in teas to relieve stomach upset and promote restful sleep. It is a carefree annual that may be sown directly into the garden once danger of frost has passed and will enjoy a sunny spot with light, well-drained soil. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has anti-spasmodic, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, sedative and muscle relaxant properties. Included in its long list of benefits are relief from menstrual cramps, topical applications for skin irritations and treatment of stress.
Mint is a flowering perennial that prefers a moist spot in your garden, but is often best planted in containers, as it can be rather invasive. Often used in cooking and cocktails, mint boasts medicinal properties, as well. As a cooling herb that helps battle inflammation and pain, mint can be used in salves for sore muscles and headaches. Other uses include relief for stomach problems and nasal congestion.
Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower) can be found in most garden centers as it is a very popular perennial landscaping plant. If sowing directly, it is best to do so in late fall in a sunny spot with loamy soil. Once established, the plant is very heat and drought tolerant. It is best known as what to take when you feel the onset of a cold as it is one of the best herbs to support the immune system. All parts of the plant have medicinal qualities and can be used in tinctures.
Due, in part, to its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, eating garlic each day may, in fact, keep the doctor at bay. Many of its benefits are derived from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its aroma. Beyond warding off vampires (you know I couldn’t resist that, right), garlic helps to reduce inflammation, boost immune function and improve cardiovascular health and circulation.
Other herbs and plants to be found in our gardens…