Photo: How to use herbs

Combine one tablespoon (15 ml) each of dried chamomile, lavender and lemon to make a tea. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

I don't know all the uses of the herbs I grow. So I asked Rocky Mountain Soap Company herbalist Tara how to make the most of garden herbs.

What are some simple ways to use common herbs?

Herbal tea to treat fevers, headaches and anxiety:

Combine one tablespoon (15 ml) each of dried chamomile, lavender and lemon. Steep one teaspoon (15 ml) of mixture in one cup (250 ml) boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.

Also try:

  • Peppermint and chamomile tea for digestive issues and headaches
  • Rosemary and peppermint infused in oil for massage and sore muscles
  • Dried thyme, rosemary, mint and lavender in sachets to keep pests away (in drawers, closets or pet bedding)
  • Rosemary and thyme to flavour vinegars and oils for cooking or salad dressings

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What are the best herbs for soap-makers?

Lavender and most seeds (milled) are good exfoliants. Calendula petals seem to stay true to colour. Rosehips add colour and texture, too.

Which backyard "weeds" are beneficial?

Chickweed is moist and nutritious. It's great in salads, teas and salves for cooling hot, dry rashes.

Dandelion root and leaf make a gentle liver tonic and diuretic. Use the root or leaf for tea. Try greens in salads, on pizzas, in stir fries or steamed. Blossoms and roots make a great medicinal massage oil or a base for an herbal salve.

I made a dandelion birthday cake for my daughter — a big hit in early June when blooms are everywhere! Brew dandelion syrup. Mix that into the cake. Add two cups of flowers. Decorate the top of the cake with more flowers. Tastes like carrot cake!

What's the best way to preserve herbs?

Drying or tincturing.

What's the most common mistake people make when using herbs?

Some people want a one-size-fits-all approach to healing. They hope herbs will give them unending energy, great sleep and symptom relief. People must consider the source of their problems. We don't all need a detox cleanse every spring and fall. We shouldn't take all the herbs and tonics we see advertised, no matter how amazing they sound.

Share your DIY garden herb recipe in the comments below to win a prize package donated by the Rocky Mountain Soap Company. (Draw date: August 15.)


Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

July 20, 2016

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Oct 09, 2016
4:32 PM

I’ve made dandelion jam — really fun!

Love “weeds” — amazing the nutrients you can find in your backyard!

Wild. Here.

Aug 10, 2016
2:10 PM

I use rose geranium leaves arranged in a single layer in the bottom of a cake pan. Use young tender leaves and wash them well and place on a tea towel to dry. Pour cake batter into the pan over the leaves and bake. Turn out upside down. The leaves are edible and give the cake a rose flavour. Rose perfume is often made with rose geranium because it is stronger than the rose perfume in roses. Use Attar of Roses rose geranium for a nice strong scent. I got mine from Richters herbs by mail many years ago. It is tender so I bring it inside as a cutting for winter and put it in the garden for summer. It can stand light but not heavy frost.

Aug 07, 2016
10:48 PM

I love using rosemary as a bug repellent. Just take 4 table spoon of choped rosemary and 2 slicees of lemons and steep them in 4 cup of boiling water until it is cool, and then strain the solution and use it when needed. But my favorite usage of garden herbs is using it as an alternative to chemical drugs, by applying a bandage of fresh rosemary leaves on knife cuts to prevent the infection.

Aug 07, 2016
5:00 PM

What might someone do with purslane? I was rereading a Trixie Belden book after many many years,,,and she mentioned purslane. That is was wild , she identified it and spoke about its benefits. But didn’t say how to use it. Tea? In a salad? Dried? I did track down some seeds and have a small plant growing.

Aug 07, 2016
7:37 AM

I like to put peppermint leaves or a sprig of lavender in a small spray bottle filled with witch hazel or rose water. I keep it in the fridge and use it as a toner in the summer. Fresh herbs are also lovely in a salad

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