>> Lindsay Hounslow

Home gardens are one way to enhance our relationships with the environment and the supportive resources it offers. The process of gardening and harvesting plants promotes holistic well-being based on self-care. The use of pesticide-free cultivation practices offers medicine enhanced by sustainable lifestyle practices and respect for oneself and our environment.

In choosing which herbs to include in a family’s herb kit, consider which ailments are likely to be encountered, which herbs can be easily grown, and the risk level of specific herbs. Beginning the garden with a small collection ensures the opportunity to learn about each plant through research and personal experience.

To begin, observe the land you are intending to garden. Consider the sun’s reach on the land, areas that will be shaded during the growing season, and the need for soil amendments. Perhaps you want a theme for your garden (e.g. medicine wheel, pattern, mixed with veggies). You may also choose to set an altar or conduct a ceremony based on your respect and intentions for the plants and the garden you are creating.

Next, research the plants you plan to include. You may find it helpful to know each plant’s size (height and circumference when fully grown), sun and soil preferences, timing of flowering, colour, life cycle (annual, biennial, perennial), and if it spreads or seeds easily. Keep in mind that many herbal root crops require three years before they are ready to harvest. Once you have gathered info on all the plants of interest, it is helpful to make lists of the plants that have similar needs. You will find that many herbs do not require rich or moist soils, but many require partial to full sun.

Don’t have a space to garden? Connect with and volunteer at Fernwood’s Spring Ridge Commons, which contains many medicinal species, or the People’s Apothecary Garden, a community herbal garden in Quadra Village with over 70 medicinal species. Visit Linden Lotus in person in Fernwood Square or follow me on facebook for information and workshops on growing and using specific herbs, herbal harvesting, plant spirit yoga, and yoga for gardeners.