Jade Alicandro Mace “Growing The Home Medicine Garden”
By Mary Sullivan Ayurvedic Health Counselor
Learn About & Grow Herbs
Last week, I went to a class on local herbs and how they are used by Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs.com. Ther Herbal Community of Central Massachusetts and Tower Hill Botanical Gardens sponsered this fun afternoon. As part of the workshop, she shared on 14 basic medicinal herbs and we planted some herb seeds 6 packs to grow. I hope to add them to my garden come spring.
Start growing seasonal herbs to come into alignment with the energy and flow of yearly cycles. Plan and start seeds in the late winter, plant in the spring, and harvest during the summer and fall. Eating fresh seasonal herbs is relaxing, rewarding and syncs you up with the seasons.
Today I am planning my vegetables and herbs garden. I wanted to do it while I am still excited at the prospect. Jade gave us some fresh ideas and options. She advised keeping it simple.
Soil Sun and Rain
Start small so gardening stays fun. My Uncle Walt who is my gardening guru, always said to start small. Jade agrees. Herbs tend to be easier to grow than a lot of vegetables but still have some basic requirements to be successful. Plan the size of your garden to keep the effort involved managable. Many herbs are perrenial, after the first years work the bounty keeps rolling in. Look to see if your choice is perrenial, annual or something in between as you plan.
Make sure the seeds you buy are from a good quality grower, are rated for your growing zone and will have a home with the right amount of sunshine. Most of us are in zone 5 or 4 around here. If there is no full sun, pick plants that like partial shade. When you plant new, you have to water in, but after that go for low maintenance watering needs.
Grow stuff you will use. Many people grow parsley and basil, I do because it is easy to use fresh cut out of the garden. I dry them and other herbs for use all year long. Other plants aren’t so simple, they take years to grow or the roots have to be tinctured. If you tincture fine, but if not try something you will use and enjoy. It is deeply satisfying to grow and harvest your own food and medicine.
If you try something and it doesn’t work out, no big deal. I put in a bunch of borage in. I was going to figure out how to process the seeds for oil. I never did get around to it, so I made my patch much smaller, and put the fresh leaves in salad , enjoy the flowers and help the bees.
Learning & Enjoyment
I love the functional aspect herbs cultivated and wild to support health. Herbs are in general easier to grow and less fussy. Many herbs bring beautiful flowers and foliage to your garden year after year. They add color and fragrance to the seasons.
I try to add new plants every year so I keep learning. California Poppy is one Jade covered that I am looking into for this year. Think about what you want to add to your garden.
Grow Your Own Kitchen Herbs
This workshop was a perfect combination of learning about the herbs and hands-on planting. Working with an experienced herbalist like Jade can really short cut your learning curve. My old favorite of the herbs Jade Alicandro Mace shared were lemon balm, and garlic.
Jade gave us the full picture, photo, Latin names, functions in the body, recipes, planting and growing conditions woven with personal insights and stories.
A club like Herbal Community of Central Massachusetts is also an easy way to get out meet people and learn about the value herbs add to your life. You don’t have to become a clinical herbalist to bring kitchen herbs into your life. Start with easy ways to get to know the taste and value of herbs in your diet. Start with a pot or two for your back porch window box. Add these functional plants to your kitchen and support evolving health.