My dear husband, good guy that he is, is putting down a sheet of mulching plastic toady so I can put in a new herb garden nest year. I tried to make a kind of wild garden last year in a cool, wet spot we have down by the bees but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t terrible the first but very little came back. I had a poor return on my lemon balm and, as this is my favorite tea herb, I really feel it. I have decided that the wild kind of gardening is not for me. I like things more organized and neat. I planned my new bed to be very organized. The first year will be devoted primarily to culinary herbs and I will follow with medicinal herbs as I expand the bed. I am in the early stages of learning about medicinal herbs. I hope I can find someone local to teach a class on making tinctures and such. I have no experience with that.

I have a number of herbal books. My favorite is Roaemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal. She has the best information and it is really clear. A lot of herbals seem to think you have a ton of previous experience and are lax about amounts. If you are a novice like me, that doesn’t always work. I want military style directions. Do this. Do that. I can get creative when I get confident.

My new bed will be 12×12 to begin with with space to expand as the bed is established. I will have a trellis on two corners where I will put the hops. I want some seating under the trellis. I can put in pots of herbs ( like mint) that need containment on either side of the bench. I will enclose the rest of the garden with bushes (bayberry and currents on two sides and across the front I will put lavender and pansies. My list of herbs is fairly short. Stevia, lemon balm,oregano, rosemary, cilantro, sweet woodruff thyme, sage, tarragon, savory, dill, chervil, borage, licorice, chives, and parsley. I want a narrow brick walk up the middle, flanked with a row of geraniums, johnny-jump-ups, nasturtiums and calendula and couple of small pots of catnip and parsley. I made out a diagram and it looks like I will have the space for all of this. The following year I want a medicinal bed. I should add that I have dedicated beds for the things I use a lot of like garlic and basil. I am so lucky to have a handy husband. I can come up with an idea and he can execute it.

I get most of my herbs locally but when I need to order I use the Richters Herb Catalog. You can order one by phone at 1.905.640.6677 or go online to www.richters.com. It is really fun catalog with a good amount of information about each herb so you can decide what plants will suit you best. I learned that a ground cover I have, bishop’s weed (laceflower), is being explored for the treatment of cancer and aids. We have a ton of bishop’s weed around here and cook it as a vegetable like spinach. It would be silly to put it in my garden as I have it growing as a ground cover right next to the house. I also learned that jewel weed usually grows by poison ivy. That is true for us. Bruce  has picked up poison ivy a couple of times and  it turns out that jewel weed is a good herbal treatment for poison ivy. Nature put the treatment right next to the ill. How cool is that? I keep an aloe plant. I had a bite from some awful thing this week. The skin around the bit blistered and looked awful. I squeezed a bit of aloe juice on the wound (which really looked infected and nasty) and today it is dry and the red has all but disappeared. I have used aloe on burns with similar good results. In coming hard times we may all be called on to treat minor illnesses and injuries ourselves. A working knowledge of how herbs work could be a life saver.

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