Early spring is the right time to collect the first batch of herbs from your garden. Today I collected mugwort, bee balm and peppermint. If you cut your herbs after the first flush of new growth, it encourages the plant to put out more shoots and to become bushier and bigger. I also start pulling rose petals in early spring. I have a rose that blooms all spring and summer. So I pull petals before they fall. It may seem like a small harvest now, but it will promote bigger yields later in the summer and fall.
I cut the stems of the plants as long as I can and then just bundle them up and tie them with yarn or string. Then I hang them in my kitchen to dry. They make the kitchen smell wonderfully! I hang herb bundles all over one side of my stainless steel baker’s rack. One day, maybe this summer, I’d like to find an old wooden ladder and mount it to hang from the ceiling and hang herbs from that.
Here’s my little disclaimer about herbs:
I do not recommend the use of any herbs medicinally though we do use them ourselves. You should research all uses for herbs and consult an herbalist before using them medicinally.
There have been numerous uses for mugwort. We use it mainly in our 19th century reenacting. It was used in the 1860’s as an Anthelmintic (expels worms) and for cardiac complaints.
Also known as Bergamot, we use this herb in a tea to relieve headaches and fevers. Because of the thymol in the leaves, it has a taste that is a combination of peppermint, spearmint and oregano. Very nice, kind of like Earl Gray tea.
Who hasn’t smelled or tasted peppermint? We use it for flavoring tea, making peppermint tea and for stomach upsets.
Here are the herbs hanging in a row on my baker’s rack…
Later this spring I am planning to make some lotion using rose water, violet water, beeswax, almond oil and vitamin E oil. Today I collected the first rose petals. I once made rose water and violet water. I may get very industrious and make it again this year. If not, then I will buy them both at Caswell Massey. These rose petals may be destined for potpourri.
My skin is very sensitive and I am out in the sun a lot. The homemade lotion is easy to make, costs little and fits my skin perfectly. It soothes my skin after I’ve been outside in the wind and sun and it doesn’t break me out.
Another product I like to make from my herbs is furniture polish. I’ve made this polish for about 25 years. The first time I made it I used a recipe from an 1850’s cookbook. I was given my Great-grandfather’s accounting desk which he made in about 1890. I wanted something that would clean and protect it.
The reviver is made of turpentine, beeswax and essential oils. I normally choose lemon oil and lavender oil but I have made it using more woodsy scents like sandalwood and cedarwood. What I make is actually called a furniture “reviver”. It cuts through layers of polish and wax and brings out the beauty of the wood and then lays down a light coat of wax which you then buff to a shine.
Once I get my essential oils I will make it and show you how and give you the recipe to try. If you have any kind of unpainted wood furniture, you will love the results you get with this reviver.
I am so thankful for Spring!