We'll be discussing these tonight at my house. I'll add information as we chat about them at the meeting. Check back later! CALENDULA Calendula officinalis Tips for Growing: Very easy to grow Annual, but reseeds nicely Full sun best, but will do fine in part sun, also Tolerant of most soil types Can start early indoors, but grows just as well direct seeded anytime during growing season. I typically direct seed around May 1. Will flower all summer and fall until hard frost if kept deadheaded. Allow a few flowers to develop seed in the fall so it will reseed the following year. How to Use: Part Used: Flower, preferably as opening or newly opened. Don't use if going to seed already. Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry How to Use: Oh my, so many ways. The tincture has helped many local Minnesotan with SAD. I add it to immune boosting blends in the winter/flu season to "give a bit of sunshine" as well as for its antiviral properties. I've added dried calendula flowers to soups in the winter for the same reasons. Calendula oil is in most natural/organic skin care products - check it out. I add to almost all of my skin salves. The tincture has helped to settle stomach issues, possibly due to its effects on the nervous system as well as digestive, as so much of our nervous system is situated in our gut. I could go on and on. I'll write more on the calendula herb page in the forum. Other Tips: The stickiness of the plant is its medicine, so the stickier the better. It is generally held that the more orange the flower, the better it is, also. I prefer "Erfurter Orange" from Richters. CALIFORNIA POPPY Eschscholzia californica Tips for Growing: Annual, but reseeds nicely Full sun definitely best, but can do OK in part sun. Difficult to transplant. Direct seeding around May 1 best. Keep moist while germinating, then pretty carefree. How to Use: Parts Used: All parts, aerial parts while flowering, along with seed pods in all stages. Good to add root at the end of the season. Preparations: Tinctur How Used: one of my family's go to tincture for sleep. My grandson gave it the name "CaliPop" which is what we all use to refer to it, now. Has also helped me with generalized anxiety during the day. Other Tips: I've read that the orange flowered variety is most effective. CHAMOMILE Matricaria recutita Tips for Growing: Very easy to grow. Annual, but reseeds nicely May start early indoors, but grows just as well direct seeded around mid-May. Pick regularly for continual bloom. Cut back when blooming ceases for another bloom cycle in a few weeks. How to Use: Parts Used: Flowers (yes, very time consuming to pick, but a lovely way to spend some time) Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry How to Use: commonly used in teas for relaxing after a hard day or in preparation for sleep. Oil made into ointment can be nice rubbed onto baby's belly if suffering from colic. Have found it useful occasionally for mild anxiety. Favorite of many herbalists - I should likely consider it more often. Cautions: may cause allergic reaction in persons with sensitivity to pollens Other Tips: I prefer the Bodegold variety (Richters) ECHINACEA Echinacea purpurea is easy to grow in our area. Echinacea angustifolia is native to Minnesota, but a bit more difficult to grow. There is debate in the herbal world about whether E. purpurea or E. angustifolia are "best." My opinion - whatever grows for you is best, as something you grow and know well will "work best". Tips for Growing: Perennial Full to part sun Can start early indoors or plant seed out directly as soon as soil can be worked - needs cool temps to germinate. Easiest way is to get divisions from a friend or purchase at plant sales or greenhouse. Echinacea is a prairie plant, so does best with average to dry soil. It does not grow as well in heavy, wet soil. Otherwise, it's pretty carefree How to Use: Parts Used: whole plant. I gather the different parts at their prime gathering time: Leaves before blooming, blooms when they are newly opened, seed heads when fully ripe, and roots after a hard freeze in the fall. I add them to the same jar as I gather the different parts, adding alcohol to cover as I go. Preparations: Tincture How to Use: Traditionally used in all sorts of illness and to prevent illness. However, it is best to use it only if exposed to or at the beginning stages of illness, to avoid keeping your immune system at ongoing high alert. More on that on the "Echinacea page" - will hopefully get to soon. I use echinacea, myself, in cases of strep, along with spilanthes. I have also had success in controlling my symptoms of Lyme with this same combo. Let me know if you want more information about either. Too much to take up space here. This page is about growing, after all... Other Tips: Echinacea purpurea is available at many local greenhouses. Echinacea angustifolia may be found at local sales by groups promoting native plants or greenhouses that sell native prairie plants. Great local group here is Wild Ones - they have an annual plant sale in May. There are many new cultivars of Echinacea more worthy of being a landscape plant. I do not use these newer cultivars for making herbal remedies; I've found that the original cultivar simply works nicest for me. Feel free to grow whatever you want in your gardens, of course, but to make "medicine", I encourage using the plain purple, "old" cultivar. LEMON BALM Melissa officinalis Tips for Growing: Perennial that spreads readily so plant wisely Full to part sun Not picky about much anything! Can start early indoors or plant directly outside anytime. Easy to find someone to get a transplant from, however (including me). How to Use: Parts Used: Aerial parts, preferably before flowering for best flavor, but anytime is fine. I try to keep mine deadheaded to keep it tastier a bit longer. Preparations: Tincture, dry It is best to tincture the fresh plant. It looses much in the drying process. I have found that lemon balm tends to loose it's flavor within 6 months or so, but others use it well beyond. A matter of personal choice, I guess. So I don't dry much, but find the tincture quite useful. Uses: I often use lemon balm in combinations with other herbs. I use it in blends for encouraging sleep or to ease anxiety. In that regard, it can be useful for children who are ill too uncomfortable to sleep. Also commonly used, along with motherwort, for hyperthyroidism. It's a sweet tincture that is really quite useful. I should turn to it more! Other Tips: Lemon Balm will spread - both by root and seed dispersing. It will take over an area. Plant wisely OATS Avena sativa Tips for Growing: Annual Sun Well draining soil with regular water I just pick up whole oat seed in bulk at the Co-op and sprinkle it on the soil, raking in lightly. Water regularly until it sprouts and then just ignore it until the seed heads form and start bending over. Then check for "milky stage". I always plant oats as it is best tinctured in its milky stage, which lasts for only 1week of the summer, so I want it readily accessible to watch for the perfect gathering time. I'll write more about that in a post dedicated to milky oats. How to Use: Parts Used: Seed, at milky stage Preparation: Tincture Uses: Milky Oat tincture is one of my daily tinctures, used to support my nervous system which seems to be my "weak link". (It's considered by many herbalists to be a " trophorestorative " for the nervous system). I make lots of this tincture each summer. Other Tips: Easy to grow, but not likely worthy of being a "landscape" plant. But if you have an area that needs a nice cover plant, I would encourage planting it. Great for wildlife, too. SPILANTHES/CRESS/TOOTHACHE PLANT Achmella olerancea Tips for Growing: Annual, reseeds occasionally Very easy to grow Does great in full sun, but OK in part sun, too Well drained soil How to Use: Parts: Aerial parts at any time. I always try to include some flowers - they seem most "potent". Preparation: Tincture, oil, dry Uses: Rub tincture on sore gums for pain relief, thus the folk name of Toothache Plant. It is very numbing. I'm currently trying the oil for pain relief (thanks to shoveling the excessive snow this winter!). Tincture combined with echinacea has worked well with strep and Lyme. Great antibacterial and antimicrobial and antiviral - all around good "anti" plant to have on hand. One of my most used tinctures. Other Tips: Simply a very fun and interesting plant to include in your garden. If you have kids or grandkids, it's a must, in my opinion! Its odd appearance is sure to encourage comments and its numbing sensation is such fun to try out. One can certainly feel and taste its medicine! ST. JOHN'S WORT Hypericum perforatum Tips for Growing Perennial Considered a noxious weed in some areas - check your local regulations Make certain you have the correct plant. There are several Hypericum varieties in the landscaping plants market. Full sun best, but can grow in part sun. Well draining soil. Spreads nicely by seed once established How to Use Part Used: Flowers, some herbalists also include the top six inches of the plant when in flower. I prefer the flowers only, so pick daily when in flower, adding to my ongoing tincture or oil. Preparations: Tincture, oil. I use both forms often Uses: The oil is included in most of my skin salves. Tincture has proved useful with shingles and chicken pox. I use it often for nerve pain or damage. It is popular and often used to "treat" depression, especially as a OTC supplement. It is certainly an option, but I have found several other herbs to often be more effective. Other Tips: Frequent or longterm use can cause photosensitivity in some persons. Do not use in conjunction with many prescription drugs, including SSRIs. TULSI/HOLY BASIL Ocimum tenuiflorum Tips for Growing: Annual Can start early indoors or plant out direct after all danger of frost Grows much like our culinary basil Full sun best, but can be part sun Well drained soil There are 4 different types of tulsi. I prefer the Krishna variety, but it is really a matter of personal taste. How to Use: Part Used: Aerial parts, best tasting before flowering. I keep mine deadheaded, using the trimmings to make lovely cups of tea. Preparations: Tincture, dry Uses: One of my favorite teas - I dry very few plants myself. This is one that I do dry - I love it! I don't use the tincture as much, but I should. Other Tips: This is a much beloved plant in the Ayurvedic tradition, commonly grown beside their houses and temples. I appreciate it being shared with us! YARROW, WHITE Achillea millefolium Tips for Growing: Perennial Easily found growing wild, but I use so much of it, that I also plant it so it can be easily available. How to Use: Parts Used: Upper 6-8 inches while in flower. Use while flowers are fresh and white. Preparations: Tincture, oil, dry Uses: One of my most used tinctures used for "the bumps and bruises of life". Used often by my grandkids- and myself! Helps to break up bruising. Also works great to stop bleeding, such as bloody nose, wounds, whatever. Another good reason to grow it close by, in your yard! I make a salve from the oil for rubbing on aches and pains and bruises, also. Several people like to make tea from the dried plant. I find it a bit too bitter for me. WHERE TO ORDER SEEDS OR PLANTS I've fallen into the habit of ordering from : Strictly Medicinal Seeds: https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com Richters: https://www.richters.com Prairie Moon Nursery: https://www.prairiemoon.com Do you have any places you use for ordering seeds or plants? Please let us know.