Friday, July 01, 2011

Today's lavender harvest - and creating relationships with healing herbs

We grow many dozens of herbs here at Little City Farm, both medicinal and culinary (and many other wild plants we let come up where they may).  I love so many of these plants, each with their own story, their own gifts, their own histories.  If I only had the space to grow one would be a difficult decision.  Which one?

I love comfrey for it's deep healing properties of cuts, scrapes, burns, bruises, and it has been commonly called the "green bandage" for this reason.  Comfrey is also highly valued for the compost pile, and a respected plant by permaculture practitioners.

I love nettle for it's incredibly rich nutrient composition (calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, silicon, manganese, zinc, chromium, and more).  It is a plant so useful and health promoting in it's superior tonic value that it is commonly known as the "green goddess", and can well be considered one of the long-life promoting herbs.

I love calendula for it's beautiful sunny yellow flowers, and powerful skin healing properties.  It promotes healing by promoting cell repair, acting as an antiseptic and offering both external and internal healing.  Calendula is also safe for those with sensitive skin, and a wonderful herb for babies and children.

There are so many more...I love peppermint for it's aid as an digestive; I love lemon balm for easing stress and anxiety; I love sage for it's healing of coughs and it's place as a sacred herb;  I love horehound for it's amazing ability to stop a cold or flu from coming on; I love red raspberry as a women's tonic herb; I love rosehips for their wild nature and sweet vitamin C; I love red clover as a detoxifier; I love saint johns wort for burns; I love marshmallow root as a skin soother; I love dandelion as a liver cleanser; I love arnica as a familiar go-to healer for all manner of bumps and bruises; and I could go on and on.  There are strong relationships to be forged with all these wonderful herbs...I am fortunate to tend all of these healing herbs in our garden - they have much to teach us if we take the time to observe and learn.

But, if I had to choose just one, then perhaps (today) I would choose lavender.  Beautiful, fragrant, strong and hardy, and known commonly as "nature's pharmacy", lavender offers a wide variety of healing properties.  It can be used topically as an oil or salve, or internally as a tincture, glycerin,or tea, it offers the qualities of antiseptic, mild antidepressant, alleviating insect bites and burns, aiding with insomnia and stress, and is effective and safe for children.  Today I was thankful for the gorgeous lavender I had the opportunity to harvest from our garden.


  1. AnonymousJuly 02, 2011

    Hi Karin,
    I enjoyed this post.
    I'm looking to fill in some spaces in our front yard with a few useful plants. Where did you source your lavender from? I'd love to get some. Does it spread and divide easily? (ie. do you have a bit extra in your garden I could get my hands on in the fall or spring, or could you recommend a source I could go to?)

  2. Hi Wendy

    All the lavender in our yard has been started from seed, and planted out as seedlings. It takes a long time to propogate lavender, so I usually start the seed in February! They grow so slowly that the plants I am harvesting now are a few years old. They really do best in full sun so your front yard would be perfect. They do bush out nicely (look at the lavender in Pamela's front yard) over time. As for dividing, lavender is actually a woody shrub so it doesn't divide easily. It is best started as seed, or bought as seedling. Richters Herbs is a great source, with several varieties of lavender available. They are based in Ontario so you can drive out there and pick the plants up, or mail-order. I'll have lavender again at our seedling sale next year, but...that's still a long way off!

  3. AnonymousJuly 16, 2011

    thanks Karin. I'm not in a huge hurry - I've adopted a slower mindset for gardening than I used to have. Especially with Kai running around this summer, I'm mostly satisfied to keep on top of the few veggies I have going in the back. I did plant some strawberries out front this spring, and they are doing well. I'll pick up some lavender from you next May at the seedling sale! It's exciting to be looking so far ahead already.