Every year more and more people are discovering the
amazing healing abilities of the medicinal plants of the Earth and using them
with incredible results. They are using them not only for healing but for
prevention as well. As wonderful as this is, there are also responsibilities
that go along with these gifts so they remain available for generations to
Due to commercial exploitation and overharvesting, the
loss of medicinal plants in the wild is unprecedented, and so we would like to
look at one way we can each do our part to ensure the sustainability of these
One of the easiest ways is to grow our own backyard
gardens and incorporate the medicinal “weeds” as part of those gardens. During
the past few years, as we were forced to stay in our homes, many people started
gardening, even those of us that were a bit frightened about trying to grow
gardens in the harsh desert climate.
What we found is although we had to make some adjustments
to planting times, we could still grow amazing foods and herbs. The big gift
was it got so many of us out in the earth, which has helped heal our souls as
much as the plants sustain our physical bodies.
Calendula. Photo Credit: yuliab/123rf.com
Companion planting is a great way to incorporate healing
herbs into our gardens. As an example, calendula flower has a long history of
use for skin and wound healing and is also a great gastrointestinal healer.
This beautiful flower is an antiseptic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory, used
for ulcers, diverticulitis, gallbladder inflammation and the list goes on. Calendula
planted in your garden around your tomatoes helps deter whiteflies, and the
bright flowers attract many beneficial insects.
Borage is a great herb to help with exhausted adrenals
(boy, we could all use that), among other things, and grows really well in our
area. Plant it near your strawberries for higher yield and more flavor or near
your tomatoes to help repel tomato hookworms. You can even freeze those
beautiful borage flowers in ice cubes to add to your favorite summer drinks.
Chamomile. Photo credit: corpp/123rf.com
Let’s look at a few more helpers in the garden, such as
chamomile. This sweet herb can improve the flavor of others, such as onions and
cabbage, so be sure to plant them together. Then there is mint, which has so
many benefits; it helps with digestion, concentration and headaches and helps open
up those airways. And this plant in your garden attracts bees and other
beneficial insects. Plant mint near broccoli, cabbage and kale. It also helps
repel whiteflies and aphids. But, interestingly, chamomile and peppermint
should not be planted near each other. Chamomile can stop mint plants from
producing the oil that gives them their minty scent.
in similar groupings is another way to guarantee success (well, in gardening
and Mother Nature, nothing is really ever guaranteed). Herbs that love moisture,
like basil and parsley, are a good planting pair. On the other hand, those that
prefer a drier soil are lavender, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Similarly
scented plants play off each other, like lemon verbena and lemon thyme.
So you can see
with just a little research, knowledge and placement, most plants help other plants
become better—just like us humans!
Madalyn Johnson (left) and Kathleen Gould (right)
Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist,
and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould
has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal
medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.