“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man,” Psalm 104:14
In Botany, an herb is defined as any seed-bearing plant that does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering. This could include a large variety of plants. When thinking about gardening with herbs, it is best to consider what type of herbs one would like to use, as there is an abundance to choose from.
Types of Herbs
The use of herbs are mainly divided into three different categories: Culinary, Nutritional, and Medicinal.
- Culinary herbs are those that are traditionally used in cooking to enhance flavor. Some of these herbs would be thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, dill, fennel, basil, mints, cumin, parsley, ginger, and saffron.
- Nutritional herbs are herbs that are high in vital nutrients and are used as food. Some of these are nettle, garlic, onion, kale, burdock, greens, comfrey, and dandelion.
- Medicinal herbs are herbs that are strictly used as medicine. There are many of these, but some common ones would be echinacea, yarrow, mullein, hawthorn berry, lobelia, red clover, plantain, St John’s Wort, and yellow dock.
Even though an herb may be categorized as culinary or nutritional, all herbs have some medicinal properties as well. Here are some examples: Garlic is high in nutrients including sulfur and used as a food so it can be considered nutritional, but it also has medicinal and culinary properties. Dandelion is nutritious as its leaves can be used as a green and its root as a form of coffee, but it is medicinal as well. It is excellent for the liver and kidneys.
Type of Garden
When making an herbal garden, one would need to consider the space that they have available. If you only have a small space, then you may just want to plant culinary herbs. For a medium to large garden, you can incorporate a wide selection of herbs to help with all forms of culinary and medicinal needs.
An untamed herbal garden is ideal as it is naturally efficient because of its many “edges”. An edge is a place where one type of plant community meets another. The idea is to liberate your herbs from the conventional garden bed and spread them all around. Thus a hedge becomes a bed of lavender or lemon balm. Borders are planted with mixed groups of herbs like catnip, borage, yarrow, and parsley or singly with comfrey or mints. The lawn is replaced with plants like thyme, pennyroyal, or chamomile. For a screen, a grove of elderberry or slippery elm are planted along the edge of the property. A small pool of water is edged with wild ginger, chickweed, licorice and horsetail.
To maximize efficiency, put the larger herbs in the back and the shorter herbs up front. Larger herbs would be comfrey, mullein, lemon balm, nettle, lavender. Smaller herbs would be mints, catnip, parsley, sage, chamomile, chickweed, cilantro, thyme, dill, and basil. When making an herbal garden, look up the herb’s uses and properties so that you can have a wide array of medicinal plants available in your own back yard.
There are also herbs that are best wild crafted, which means, going out and picking them in the wild. These are not needed to plant in an herb garden as they are plentiful in the wild, but they are definitely worth incorporating in your life: burdock, dandelion, plantain, and yellow dock.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, the most important thing in making an herbal garden is to Get Started!
HERB TYPES (C= culinary; N= nutritional; M= medicinal)
|Burdock root||N M||Alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, hepatic||Cleansing to Liver, kidneys, blood|
|Catnip||M||Carminative, diaphoretic, sedative, antacid, nervine||Pain, fever, calming|
|Cilantro||C M||Anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory||Detox, pulls out heavy metals|
|Comfrey||N M||Cell proliferator||Healing to bone & tissue|
|Dandelion||N M||Hepatic, Diuretic, bitter, tonic, digestive||Cleansing to Liver, kidneys, blood|
|Dill||C M||Stomachic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory||Gas, stomach, liver, digestion|
|Echinacea||M||Immune stimulant, anti-microbial, diaphoretic||Infections, to stimulate the immune response|
|Garlic||C N M||Anti-viral, anti biotic, antifungal, anti parasitic||Infections of all kinds|
|Parsley||C M||Diuretic, nutritive||Kidney, high in iron & nutrients|
|Lemon balm||N M||Nervine, anti-depressive, hepatic, anti-viral, carminative||Stress & sleep, calming|
|Mullein||M||Demulcent, emollient, anti-inflammatory, nervine||Any glandular problem. Lungs, lymphatic system|
|Nettle||N M||Anti-histamine, high in iron and minerals, tonic||Allergies, anemia, strength|
|Peppermint||C M||Analgesic, nervine, diaphoretic||Pain, stomach upset|
|Plantain||M||Drawing properties, anti-venomous, diuretic||Skin infections, bee stings, bed wetting|
|Sage||C M||Diaphoretic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, digestive||Pain, head, brain, mucus membranes,|
|Thyme||C M||Disinfectant, anti-viral, expectorant||Lungs, stomach, throat. Can diffuse essential oil in sick room.|
|St John’s Wort||M||Alterative, nervine, sedative, anti-depressant||Stress, sleep, anxiety, & heart|
|Yarrow||M||Diaphoretic, astringent, diuretic, hepatic, vulnerary.||Medicine chest in itself. Fever, colds & flu|
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Amy Willis MH, CTN
About the Author
Amy Willis M.H., CTN