(Malory is giving away a set of all three books in the Legacy Series to one lucky winner.)
Every year around this time, my husband jokes that it’s time for the apothecary closet to make its appearance. It’s true, I was probably born in the wrong century.
I grew up in rural Alabama, but not so rural that we didn’t have doctors or hospitals. My mom is a gardener, but even she doesn’t have the fascination with growing her own food that I do. No, my fascination with food as medicine and growing herbs on my own came after my husband and I bought our first home in 2016. I started my first garden then, a 4×4 raised bed that has since grown into multiple beds boasting leafy greens in the fall and spring, root vegetables in the winter, and a bounty of all kinds through the summer.
Herbs might just be my favorite. They look beautiful, smell even better, and can be used in so many ways. I grow the usual, mint, oregano, basil, lavender, lemon balm and your general culinary and medicinal herbs, in addition to a few experiments here and there.
An herbalist I am not, and modern medicine shows itself in our home as often as is needed, but
I find that many of the common ailments that my family experiences can be calmed with an herbal tea or a salve made with something I grew in our backyard.
I tend to reach for peppermint before a bottle of OTC medication for an upset stomach, lavender and lemon balm when I’m feeling anxious, and of course my culinary herbs when my dishes need a little oomph. You’ll frequently find me running out to my kitchen garden in the middle of making dinner because I realize that something I’m growing just on the other side of the door would be perfect for the dish.
But of course, there are always more herbs than I know what to do with: enter my apothecary closet. Throughout the spring and summer, I’ll harvest the herbs from my small plot of land and hang them as bunches in the closet. Then, when they’re dry, I break up the leaves and put them in labeled mason jars to add to tea bags I purchase online and to soap and salve recipes for bug bites and general handwashing.
Herbs and traditional medicine show up in my books as well. Setting them in the Old West, I really couldn’t see any other option. One of my heroines is a female doctor who utilizes the herbal medicine techniques she learned from her grandmother in treating her patients. That same grandmother saves the day in an earlier book when an unwelcome scorpion shows up in the garden.
Anyone can grow their own vegetables and herbs, even on an apartment balcony. I live in a subdivision on less than a half-acre and grow much of the produce that we consume every year. My toddler frequently pulls bell peppers off of my plants and eats them like apples. We have been gifted with the earth’s bounty from our Creator, and stewarding that gift is one of my greatest joys.
Herbs as medicine can be powerful and can interact with certain medications or conditions you may have. Always consult your doctor and/or pharmacist before proceeding with herbal remedies.
A couple of excellent resources if you’re just getting started:
The Beginner’s Garden Podcast – https://journeywithjill.net/
The Pioneering Today Podcast – https://melissaknorris.com/podcast/