Surely this chilly weather that’s rolled in has many garden lovers thinking about the winter season. Soon, I am told, rain and cold will come to stay for the wet winter season. Luckily, a beautiful array of medicinal herbs exists along our garden’s border, a product of the generations of herbal-minded garden stewards who have carefully brought their favorite perennial herbs into the mixture of plants that grace the garden landscape. We’ve gotten a head start on stocking our medicine cabinets for winter with a few simple herbal projects.
Here’s a primer on some of the herbal projects we can make from the plants in the Westgarden. Fortunately, the tradition of using medicinal herbs has continued from season to season, the knowledge passed on once again from garden manager to apprentice.
Calendula oil, Motherwort tincture, and Lemonbalm-Lavender tea.
Last week, Abigail held a class on making salves and fire cider. Salves are made from oils that have been herb-infused, either by cooking or slow solar infusion. Beeswax is added to an existing herbal oil to turn it into a solid, similar to the consistency of Chapstick. Herbal salves are handy for injuries like burns and scrapes, and help to soothe irritated or dry skin.
Anh and Halley, fellow garden apprentices, putting finishing touches on our newly made salves.
Fire cider is a powerful immune booster made by infusing apple cider vinegar with a number of fiery plants: horseradish, cayenne, garlic, and ginger. A sip at the first signs of a winter cold can help to stave off sickness and stimulate blood flow, while warming the body and helping with digestion.
As we begin to contemplate the end of the growing season, it’s comforting to know that the garden will continue to sustain and support us, even when the temperature drops, the rain sets in, and we cozily plan for another year.
–Margaret, Westgarden Apprentice