We have been busy this first week of March as spring shipping for the nursery begins. The rhythm of the day is quickening and even though everything is still dormant and there's snowflakes here and there, it's the beginning of awaking, with the sun lingering a little longer and the first day of spring approaching. Inside I feel I'm waking up too, coming out of my hibernation of garden dreams for the year ahead and stepping into the action of it all.
We are preparing a garden space near the house, a medicinal kitchen garden, where we can easily harvest herbs and greens right outside our door. One of the flowers that will be throughout the garden is Echinacea purpurea. She'll be a delight for the eyes, a sweet landing spot for pollinators and medicine for winters ahead.
You can plant Echinacea from seed, expecting it to flower on its second or third year with tall stems topped with lovely purple petaled coneflowers or buy crowns in spring/fall to plant for summer blooming. The roots and flowering tops are medicinal. We use this medicine to stimulate the immune system & decrease inflammation at the onset of illness. Roots can be harvested after two or three years of growth for making a tincture.
Echinacea purpurea is a native wildflower and not a cultivated variety. Echinacea Augustafolia is another medicinal species. A bottle of Echinacea tincture is always in our first aid bag for bug bites, cuts & snake bites! I also put some echinacea tincture in one of those glass roll on bottles with lavender essential oil and a yarrow infused carrier oil to rub on easily while out and about. We love this for bug bites.
I like to use both flower and root for our tincture. The roots here are dried and the flowers are slightly dried but fresh. There are precise ways to make a tincture if you like to weigh and measure so you create the same results every time, but sometimes I like to make tinctures using the folk method when I am familiar with the plant. :) When I was first learning I would always measure, but now I am comfortable playing it by feel. After my jar is filled like the photo above ( the flowers were pushed down a bit more) I filled the jar a couple inches above the plant material with vodka. You can let this macerate for several months but you'll want to let it sit 4-6 weeks minimum. You can always taste it too and see if you feel a numbing effect on the tongue, if not then let it sit a while longer.
Other herbs we use regularly in the garden for cooking as well as medicine are rosemary, lavender, bee balm, thyme, hyssop & lemon balm. I'll have to write a post just about my mint family friends because they are my best friends. If you're wanting to start a medicinal garden or add to an already established one; mint family perennials are easy to grow and have so many offerings, there's really nothing they cant do!
For planting, Echinacea likes full sun but can tolerate some shade. This Asteracea family plant produces many seeds on the central cone that will drop and make new flower babies for you. Plant in well draining, deep soil for it's long tap root and enjoy!
p.s. This post is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to treat, cure, prevent any disease. BUT I will be sharing occasionally how I use the plants we grow for our family :)
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