People always ask me what they should plant in their garden. I will give you a hint. They are the most versatile plants to grow, they can be grown inside or outside or in a pot or in the ground, and they add a bit of pizazz to food and drinks. Can you guess? …………………. HERBS! Herbs are simple and easy to grow. Great for beginners or seasoned gardeners. They are the gift that keeps on giving. Besides being easy to grow, many herbs are perennials which means they will come back year after year, or they will reseed themselves each year. I like that because it means less work for me to do.
Herbs add interesting flavors to your food, have a wide array of medicinal properties, and are very useful with poultry, dogs, and livestock. Another cool thing about herbs is that anyone can grow them most anywhere you live. Herbs grow easily in a sunny to part shade location in containers, your windowsill, on your porch, balcony, in your garden, or placed in various spots around your yard. Over the next few blog posts on “garden growin” I will be going over my go-to favorite herbs I can’t live without. I will get into how to grow these herbs and how to use them.
I was just in the garden getting some of my raised bed gardens ready to start growing and I noticed some tiny fern-like, feathery leaves popping out of the ground throughout my beds and garden area. In honor of their arrival……….. my first favorite herb to grow is CHAMOMILE – Matricaria chamomilla. Chamomile is a tough little plant that easily reseeds itself year after year. It is super easy to grow and does well planted in part shade and full sun. Chamomile is drought tolerant. Plant chamomile in the spring from seeds or plants in cooler weather. It does better starting in cooler weather. I find mine do the best when planted next to plants that help give it shade at different times of the day. The tiny daisy-like flowers look gorgeous and really add that extra pop in the garden and they smell fabulous. Our pollinator friends like butterflies and the bees absolutely love it.
Two types of chamomile are found……Roman and German Chamomile. Roman chamomile is a low growing perennial and mostly used as ground cover. Today I will be talking about German chamomile which is a reseeding annual that grows very well in zones 4-9. It grows to about 2 feet tall and can be very prolific. Whenever I have extra plants pop up, I repot them and gift to friends and neighbors. Chamomile is a great companion plant. It can help other plants it grows with that are prone to fungus, mildew, or blight. I started planting it by my tomatoes and potatoes and have noticed a difference especially with blight.
The best time to harvest your flowers is in the morning when the oils are at the most potent. I go out with my basket and pick flowers and put them on cheesecloth in a basket or container with sides so the tiny flowers won’t blow away. Let them sit in a cool, dry area for a week or two until they are dry and place in a glass jar. Many people ask me how to make tea from the fresh flowers, When using an herb that is fresh, you just need to add more. So for an 8 ounce cup I would add 3 tablespoons of fresh flowers in a tea ball or teapot and steep a few minutes, If the flowers are in the teapot, stain it and serve plain or with some raw honey.
I also use chamomile with my dogs, poultry, horses, and sheep. Chamomile has a calming effect as well as helping with itchy, irritated eyes or skin, gastrointestinal problems, and helps with mites, lice, and repel fleas. I use the fresh or dried plant in the nesting boxes of my chickens and I throw the flowers in their feed. My dog and horse eyes sometimes have an allergic reaction to some spring plants and I make tea and let it cool with chamomile and flush their eyes. I have also used it on my grandkids and our eyes also. If I notice irritated skin, I would make a tea rinse and just pour it over their coat. I like to grow it out in the pastures because our livestock will munch on it when they need it. My dog Mollie even gets a few flowers in her food.
Besides using chamomile for our animals and a tea that can relax and soothe our mind and body, chamomile is amazing for your hair. Tea rinses are a great addition to your natural hair or beard routine. It is great for your scalp and softens hair. Does anyone remember using lemon juice to lighten your hair? I did it every summer! Well, lemon juice can be very drying to your hair. Here comes chamomile to the rescue. The tea can help bring golden highlights back to your hair without using any harsh chemicals or drying lemon juice. A chamomile rinse works on light, red, or dark hair.
This is how it works:
- Boil some water just like you would make a cup of tea. I use a quart jar and use 3xs amount of chamomile that I would normally use for a cup of tea. Let it steep for 30-45 minutes and strain it.
- For all-over lightening, pour the whole jar over your head and massage throughout your hair and play in the sun or just go for a walk. After it’s been 30-45 minutes, wash and rinse hair.
- For a few highlights in specific areas, just apply the chamomile rinse to specific pieces of hair and hang out in the sun or work in the garden for 30-45 minutes, wash and rinse.
- Keep repeating this process until you get desired results.
Here is a cool video I did showing you the plant and uses:
Have you ever grown this lively-looking chamomile plant? Let me know in the comments how you use it or if you are going to start growing it. I can’t wait to hear from you.