On the weekend we held our annual "backyard herbal teas" workshop. Thanks to everyone who came out to learn about growing, harvesting, drying, storing and using medicinal herbal plants for teas and other home-grown first-aid remedies for your family. We finished with a short herb walk through our herb garden, pointing out 15 or so favourite herbs we are growing to be used in medicinal teas (infusions/decoctions): calendula, peppermint, sage, echinacea, horehound, hops, lavender, chamomile, anise hyssop, red raspberry leaf, rosehips, fennel, red clover, lemon balm, dandelion root, burdock root, nettle, and a few others. There are so many I love!
We had covered several ways to propogate herbs, in hopes of having everyone start or expand their own herb gardens - herbs can be propogated by seed, by root divisions of the mother plant, cuttings from the mother plant (set in water or soil to form new roots), and layering the mother plant under soil (to grow new roots). True peppermint (mentha x piperita) is one example of an herb that can't be grown from seed, and must be propogated by other means as mentioned. Peppermint (as opposed to other mints like spearmint) is generally sterile, meaning it produces no seeds or if it does have seeds they are not true to the parent plant. Peppermint has such a wide range of medicinal uses - there is evidence of it being used medicinally more than ten thousand years ago - that I decided to root a whole series of peppermint plants in order to expand my true peppermint patch next year. Once established, peppermint then easily spreads by roots and shoots. Peppermint is wonderful as a digestive tea, for the skin, for hair, added to other more bitter herbs for flavouring, and is a large nectar producer that attracts honey bees. Every garden should have at least a small patch of peppermint.