One of the most popular movements in home gardening right now is medicinal herb gardening. Planting enthusiasts accustomed to growing their own food long ago realized that they could also grow their own medicines, cutting down on yet another costly household bill. Medicinal gardeners grow everything from "tooth ache" anesthesia plants to immune boosting Echinacea. A successful herb garden is not only an economical way to boost your holistic health, but a sustainable and ethical method for obtaining some of the most important vitamins and medicines. If you're a home gardener or survivalist interested in starting your own medicinal garden, there are some time-tested methods for overcoming the unique challenges of medicinal gardening.
Use simple raised beds with clear labels
Block out a corner of your garden and devote it entirely to your nascent medicinal herb garden. That area should remain sacrosanct. You don't want medicinal herbs interfering with or contaminating your vegetable beds. Labeling is a great way to keep tabs on which plants are growing where.
In the designated medicinal section, build a normal raised bed just like you would use for flowers or vegetables. As you become more adept at medicinal gardening you can start to blend compatible edibles with your medicinal herbs. Herbs like basil and thyme work well in the corners of vegetable gardens, for example.
Don't overdo it with the fertilizer
Most medicinal herbs don't require the same dense, nutrient rich soil that heavy-feeding vegetables need. A simple dirt and compost mix should be sufficient to raise a productive medicinal garden. If you are concerned about the quality of your soil you can always mix a bag of aged manure or some rich, manure tea with your soil. This simple and cost-effective blends will ensure that your herbs have a hospitable growing environment.
To pot or not to pot?
Seeds are always going to be the most economic option for growing medicinal herbs. Most medicinals have a high success rate from a good batch of viable seeds. The ones you're going to want to grow in a pot culture include basil, cayenne, lavender, ginger, rosemary, St. John's wart and thyme, just to name a few.
Chamomile, garlic, feverfew, Echinacea, licorice and chickweed grow well from seed. Plant these herbs in raised beds filled with satisfactory soil. Yarrow, valerian and burdock get pretty bulky as they mature, so be sure to give them enough room to flourish.
There's no sense in negating the health benefits of your valuable medicinal herbs by polluting them with chemical pesticides. These ancient medicines grew organically for millennia before the advent of harmful herbicides and pesticides. Do your research and understand how your plants flourish naturally so you can provide them with the right conditions to grow. Keep all plastic and other unnatural substances outside of your garden for maximum healthfulness. If you treat your medicinal herbs well they will return the favor, helping you treat eczema and food allergies as well as a host of other common health concerns.
Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.