Medicinal Herbs

I made a decision a few years ago to grow my own medicinal herbs and spices. It's a step on the road to natural self sufficiency. Medicinal herbs can be strong medicine and have to be taken carefully. I am not going to tell you how to use the medicinal herbs since I am not a qualified herbalist but there are a lot of good books out there on the subject and websites as well. One website I have used is "Anne's Remedy". It lists all the medicinal herbs in alphabetical order and tells you what they are for.

They also sell the herb oils, tinctures, teas and so forth but wouldn't you rather just grow your own? It can get a bit expensive buying these things, with postage and all.

I am not recommending that you use medicinal herbs in place of standardized medicine. I still go to the doctor and take the medicines that he gives me, when I need to. (I am usually almost dead by that time and have to be dragged there. It's free here in Canada, but I still hate going, lol). I tell him what natural remedies I am using. I think this is important if you are getting a prescription medicine because some of the natural remedies may react with the prescription drug. I do use the medicinal herbs that I grow, but very carefully.

I also grow most of my spices but I did not dry them this year. (I just didn't have time, you know... BUILDING FENCES!!! and all.) I threw a few fresh chopped spices into the freezer and have been using those, but this coming year I plan to supply all my dried spice needs, where possible, myself.I have a lot of thyme that I planted from seed three years ago. I also have oregano, although I want to get some Greek oregano and I have sage, cilantro, mint, lemon mint, basil and lemon basil and rosemary. I never use terragon, so I don't grow it. (We are stuck in a rut and use the same spices all the time.)

I plan to dry all of these this year and keep them in jars in a cool, dark place. Probably the spare room upstairs, since it is unheated in the winter and the basement is too damp. You can see what I do with the mint in a previous post "Using All That Mint". (I have discovered this winter that I like a mint shot in my coffee, as well. I'm going to try that at home :-)

I do wish I could grow cinnamon and nutmeg. Cinnamon is not that expensive to buy but nutmeg sure is! I use a lot of both in the pumpkin/squash recipes for pie and muffins. If you discover a hardy, short season cinnamon and nutmeg that I can grow, please let me know!

Another thing I want to grow this year is my own ginger. Has anyone grown ginger for drying and grinding? How does it keep in that form? How does it compare to store bought? I'm betting it is a lot more potent! The big question for me is this: Is it worth the time and effort, when my time is so short and I use most of my "effort" already? I need to know.

One thing I am going to do with my herbs this year is make my own herbal tea blends. Not "tea from China" tea , since it doesn't grow here either :-( I drink a lot of green tea and herbal tea blends, especially the mints. I hear that chocolate mint makes a fabulous tea. I have to grow some chocolate mint this year! I might even break down and actually BUY one in the spring! (I tend to avoid those places that sell reasonably priced plants. Too many of them just hop into my cart and insist on following me home!)

Another herb I am going to grow and use this year is stevia. I use too much of the artificial sweetener in tea and want to get away from it. (I know real sugar is healthier, but I don't metabolize simple sugars very well.) If you grow and use stevia, I wouldn't mind some feedback on the taste vs. sweetener and sugar.

I am going to dry these things hanging under the front porch roof where they are out of the sun and get the maximum air flow (and look so "country chic"). This is the mint that I dried last year. It is still hanging out there in -16c temps today. I guess I should have frozen it too. (Time! I had no time!!)

Now that I have these cool new spice jars, I might get adventurous and try new spices, just because I like the way they look in the jar!