Creating a beautiful tea garden this year will not only bring great happiness, but also provide free medicine in the garden, help feed the bees and butterflies, and can be grown anywhere from an apartment balcony to a forty acre parcel.
Herbs don’t require a lot of water once they are established so they can survive droughts, but also appreciate a light watering daily if it is available. Herbs are easy to grow and affordable. I often have trouble starting herbs from seed outdoors. Too many factors, birds, wind…and I don’t have the room indoors but for $3 or less I can go to my local nursery and pick up one pack of my desired herb and it will spread and thrive throughout the summer. Friends and fellow gardeners are also good sources for a small divide of herbs. If you do not want them to take off like wild fire then plant them in pots, whether on the porch, or in the ground to help keep them from flitting about. Mulch with wood chips or straw. At the end of the season give them some compost and cover with straw for the winter. Some Mediterranean herbs, such as Lavender and Rosemary, will be annual in mid to northern climates, but can easily be replaced or overwintered in the house.
When starting, rototill desired space and add a bit of compost and garden soil and mix well. One can create fantastic designs, circular walkways, or checkerboards, or simple lines. Herbs can also be added in with vegetables as they act as beneficial partners. Bugs that love to eat plants are not attracted to herbs and may bypass the whole tomato patch if they only see the basil!
My choices for a tea garden are:
Chamomile– any variety- Dainty, beautiful, used as a calmative, sleep aid, heartburn relief, digestive distress, mild pain reliever.
Mints– peppermint, spearmint, chocolate- Hearty, fragrant, used for digestive distress of any sort, fever reducer.
Basil– any variety- May act as annual in many climates, used for digestive distress and to fight colds and viruses.
Motherwort– Watch out for stickers! Used to moderate hormones, heart support, and fights colds.
Monarda– also known as Bee Balm- Used to fight viruses.
Purple Coneflower– also known as Echinacea- Used as anti-biotic, cancer fighter, and immunity support. Use topically on wounds.
St. John’s Wort– Used for anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medicine, helps heal nerve damage, strong pain reliever.
California Poppy– Easy to grow, used as a strong pain reliever.
Skullcap– Controls seizures, acts as strong pain reliever.
Roses– any variety- Mild pain reliever, mild anti-depressant. Rose hips can be made into tea for arthritis pain. Highest fruit in Vitamin C.
Yarrow- white variety- Used internally for heart and vein support. Externally crush flowers and apply to wound to stop bleeding.
Use leaves and flowers in any blend you desire for flavor or benefit. To dry for winter, cut herbs and place in a paper bag clearly marked with contents. Three weeks later the herbs will be dried and can be placed in a canning jar.
To the garden add a table and chairs, a bird bath, and bring a cup of tea out to your tea garden to relax and enjoy.