For most of us, the gardening & growing season is wrapping up. However, you can still scheme for next year! Quinn from Reformation Acres is sharing her best ideas for growing your own medicine cabinet today.
Summer may be over, but does a homesteader’s work really ever end?
There is a lot of work to do to get ready for those chilly winter days we’re facing. Are you feeling it yet?
I know I sure am!
But it’s to be expected. Homesteading can be rough.
From sunburns to cracked hands, chapped lips, sore muscles, aching backs, poison ivy, bug bites, bee stings, bumps, bruises, or worse yet wounds, our bodies take a beating but it’s a life we all love.
When we have the privilege of taking in the sweet scent of a cow as the morning sun hits us warm on the back while listening to the swishing of the milk in the pail, breathing deep the musty smell of soil just as it begins to rain when you’re pulling weeds in the garden, or the taste of that first homegrown tomato of the season, all the pain and toil is so easily rewarded.
Still, it’s no fun to get stepped on by the cow when you’re leading her back to the pasture or pecked at by a hen who’s gone broody while you’re trying to work out whose eggs those actually are. The bees don’t realize you’re trying to help them out by checking on the hives and you’ve got the stings to prove it! Then there’s the sunburn you got in the garden that makes it hard to rest your weary bones when you lie down at night.
For all the hard work we do trying to grow and raise the best food possible for our families, we deserve to treat ourselves well by taking control of our own health and well-being!
Grow Healing Herbs in a Salve Garden
What is a better way to control our health than planting healing herbs in a herbal salve garden? Bonus: this salve garden also adds beauty and color to your landscape while remaining a functional part of your homestead.
You will be able to reap a harvest that will make you feel better while encouraging pollinators and the ultimate all-natural pesticide to visit your garden.
Your Salve Garden won’t only benefit you… salves also have their place in your barnyard. You can be whipping up creations to will improve the quality of life for the animals under your care and stewardship. (Natural Homestead is my favorite resource for finding ways to naturally tend to our homestead’s needs.)
I’m busy planning my Salve Garden and here are 10 plants I’ll be growing…
Top Ten Healing Herbs to Grow in a Salve Garden
The very word “chamomile” is soothing and calming, and that is exactly what it does for your skin. It soothes irritations and inflammations, such as sunburn, windburn, even eczema! It’s healing, prevents infections in the skin, and can be used on muscle cramps. This natural anti-inflammatory has no known side effects unless there is a known allergy.
Chamomile is an easy-to-grow daisy-like plant that self-sows for even lower maintenance. A young chamomile plant is easily transplanted, while older plants have deep roots that are hard to remove. Chamomile plants usually flower the second year after planting (unless you start with a mature plant).
When your flowers start to change color, you will want to remove them by cutting towards the bottom of the stem. When they are dried, the harvested blossoms still have an old-fashioned charm and loveliness.
Calendula is renowned for its efficacy in treating skin conditions.
Whether it’s an infection, minor cut, burn, or wound, or dry, damaged, or chapped skin, insect bites, or eczema, antiseptic calendula will speed healing.
The triterpenoid compounds [in calendula] such as oleanolic acid appear to inhibit a variety of bacteria. It’s anti-inflammatory effects may be the result of a triterpenoid compound acting as an antioxidant, to reduce damage from oxygen radicals in the healing process. – Guide to Medicinal Herbs
Calendula is easily grown from seed in full sun and blooms all season long giving you many months to harvest the flowers. Calendula is also known as “the potted marigold”, it was given this name because it is an easy keeper in cool greenhouses during winter months.
Peppermint is a great choice when you’re looking to relieve itching from bug bites & poison ivy. It’s cooling when you’re troubled with skin irritations, hives, or rashes.
Purchase a peppermint plant or take a cutting, runner, or division from a friend and watch it take off. Be careful though, it can take over your garden. Sinking a pot in the ground and planting in the pot could be one way to contain it. Preferably, you should harvest the leaves around the time it begins to flower. Use them fresh or dry for later.
On my dream homestead, I’ll have more comfrey than I know what to do with. It is one amazing multi-purpose plant! For your Salve Garden, its function will be the result of its healing properties.
When you have bruises, strains, sprains, back pain, sore muscles, even fractures, your comfrey salve recipe will be what you reach for. Comfrey’s genus name actually means “to grow together” in reference to its ability to cause broken bones to heal. It contains both allantoin and rosmarinc acid. Allantoin acid helps with tissue growth and healing. While rosmarinc acid assists in pain relief and inflammation.
Comfrey will grow just about anywhere and can be invasive like peppermint. Share root divisions with your fellow homesteaders. They’ll appreciate it!
Another common solution for skin ailments is lavender. It will be beneficial in salves for pain or cooled burns. Actually lavender would make a great addition to just about any salve you chose to prepare. Insect bites, skin healing, muscle aches, it seems to just about do it all! (Plus, it smells delightful!)
The only problem with lavender for me is I find it difficult to grow. I don’t know what my problem is, but I’m determined to make it work and try again every year!
Used for bruises and wound healing, hyssop is beautiful! As a bonus, the bees love it!
Hyssop is a shrub-like plant with flowers growing on spikes about 6 in tall. This is not a sweet-smelling plant but it is flowers are pretty and grow throughout the summer. Hyssop can be grown from seed, the roots can be divided in the spring or you can take stem cuttings.
Rosemary sure packs a punch- it is an anti-everything. From bacteria to fungus, parasites, and inflammation! It will help with itching, improve circulation & blood supply, and relieves muscle pain including that from arthritis.
Buy a plant as it isn’t easy to grow from seed. It won’t do well in cooler climates making for a good potted addition to your garden. Take a piece of summer with you and overwinter it indoors.
Arnica is a toxic herb when consumed (some diluted forms are still used for healing) which is why its golden flowers are used to create a topical salve. Arnica salve will be your go-to healing balm when you have problems with muscle strains & sprains, bruises, swelling, and pain- even arthritic pain. The beautiful golden flowers can be used in a fresh or dry form.
You can grow your own either from seed or by root division, but make sure the soil is well-drained. These are perennial plants that grow to be 1 to 2 feet tall. Each plant grows 1 to 3 stalks containing 2 to 3 yellow daisy-like flowers.
9. Marsh Mallow
Marsh Mallow is a lovely, hollyhock-like plant and its many uses include burns and inflammations. Both leaf and root are used to soothe and soften dry or sunburned skin. The root is useful for burns and the reduction of inflammation.
If you would like to add Marsh Mallow to your salve garden be sure to give them lots of water. When found in the wild they are usually growing in marshland.
10. St. John’s Wort
Keep a little St. John’s Wort salve on hand in case of burns. Part of the homesteading package is time in the kitchen. Burns happen. (Not to mention sunburn.) St. John’s Wort will heal your cooled burns, bruises, wounds, or bee stings.
St. John’s Wort is a shrub and the yellow flowers are infused in oil. I’ve used both the oil and the salve in the treatment of burns and have been very pleased with the results. Making your own burn salve is so simple, there’s no excuse not to have it on hand!
Where to Find These Healing Herbs
All of these herbs can be started from seeds found online or at a local garden center. My current go-to for all things gardening is True Leaf Market. They have a wide variety of herb, vegetable, and cover crop seeds to choose from. If starting seeds seems a little intimidating you can always purchase seedlings or learn all about seed starting by reading this Seed Starting Guide.
Rather listen than read? Learn how to start seeds by listening to this episode from The Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast How to Start Your Own Seeds.
What Healing Herbs Are in Your Garden?
Once your healing herbs Salve Garden is growing well, you’ll be able to prepare your own infused herbal oil and concoct your own healing salves depending on your needs. If you have an especially bountiful harvest, you can read how to harvest and dry herbs or listen to this podcast episode How to Preserve Fresh Herbs for Later. Before long you’ll be treating your homesteading aches, pains, burns, bruises, and skin issues just like your great-grandparents did… straight out of the garden!
Do you have a garden dedicated to your homestead’s well-being? What healing herbs do you use most?
More About Herbs:
- How to Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil
- Herbs for Chicken Nesting Boxes
- How to Make Herbal Vinegar
- Homemade Herb Salt Recipe
Reformation Acres is a resource for information on homesteading & gardening and how you can transform an average backyard lawn into an abundant source of sustainable, organic, and homegrown food. We’re living an agrarian lifestyle trying to grow or raise most of our own food for our large family and that includes fruits & vegetables, dairy & beef cattle, pigs, chickens and more. It all comes together with delicious, homegrown & local seasonal recipes being shared on our new site, Farmstead Cookery.
Cynthia LaFourcade says
I tend to be one of those that’s planning next year’s garden while I’m cleaning up the remnants from this one. A salve garden – great idea! Do you use a particular source to get your seeds from? Love your blog, Jill. I especially like the essential oils tips, as I’m just starting to learn and use them more. You are one talented and very busy gal. Thanks so much for the info!
Jill Winger says
My personal favorite source of heirloom seeds is http://www.rareseeds.com
Tracy @ OurSimpleHomestead says
What a great list! I planted Peppermint for the first time this year and boy did it take off! We have an awful time with fire ants here and we always get bitten a dozen times each year. I am going to try to plant Calendula next …maybe that will be our go-to cure for those itchy any bites!
Anmarie Hicks says
I just want to say thanks for such a great blog. So many of your posts are just exactly what I am thinking about, right at the time you are posting. This year I have gotten into growing herbs and making herbal remedies. I have accumulated some wonderful books on the subject. I have also been growing many of the herbs you have suggested and a few others. My problem now is knowing how to dry the herbs and what to do for the plants for fall. I have been air drying and that has gone pretty well so far, though my sage has turned gray, 🙁 I am just taking one day at a time. I really love it, though gardening is totally new to me, here goes…:)
Jill Winger says
You are so very welcome Anmarie! I’m so happy you are enjoying the posts!
Cleonne Cauble says
Sounds like fun.
mrs lisa says
one that might be a bit harder to come by is jewelweed. it is great at getting rid of
poison Ivy…. actually it grows wherever PI is found.
amazing God provided the cure to the curse 🙂
Brenda Mosier says
Could you suggest a good soap and salve recipe for plaque pscoriasis
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Kelli Nichols says
Hey Jill, great list, but how to you make the salves with the plants mentioned? I know you’ve gotta have some great recipes. Can you share them?
I was hoping for the same information – how to prepare the plants to use in salves.
Hi Sally & Kelli,
I have a blog where I talk about making herbal medicines. Here’s the link to my salve making post.
I have not had success in growing chamomile and my comfrey doesn’t multiply. What could I be doing wrong?
Patti McTee says
I have experienced an itchy scalp and hair loss off and on for decades…since I first started menopause. Recently I learned it’s a condition abbreviated DHT, caused by an imbalance of testosterone. Long story short, the itching can be maddening and the hair loss down right scary for women. Then I discovered that you can cut a sprig of rosemary and make tea with it, and use it where needed, usually just the crown, and my itching stopped IMMEDIATELY! The hair loss has reduced dramatically too. I just put it in a bottle in my shower and use it after shampooing. I’ve enjoyed rosemary in cooking. Now have a new reason to love it.
Do you have a specific recipe? I didn’t see it. Thanks
Rita Vesper says
I thoroughly enjoy your posts & found this one on herbs particularly informative & densely accurate. THANK YOU very much.