Living on a small farm gives you a lot of opportunity to grow different things. One thing I have enjoyed having very near my house is a small herb garden. It gives me fresh things to cook with, to treat illness or injuries with, and make tea and soap with. It smells wonderfully outside a window.
The first thing to do is prepare the ground. It’s good to do this several months before you are ready to actually plant, although you can plant without doing this. If you have chickens and/or rabbits, then you have the highest quality fertilizer right at your fingertips. If you don’t have these, consider having a rabbit at least for droppings for your garden. Rabbit droppings can be applied directly to the garden. Chicken droppings should be composted first so they won’t burn the tender plants.
In fact, just about any kind of farm animal manure is good for your garden. You can make a compost pile in a tucked away place from visiting eyes. Add leaves, grass clippings and vegetables scrapings to the pile, keep it moist and turn it often. Don’t worry if the chickens scratch in it, they will just help you turn it and leave extra droppings. Avoid meat scraps that will bring rats and is not good for compost.
Dig this compost into the soil where you want to plant. You can overwinter it under a layer of leaves. In the spring, till these leaves under the ground to keep the soil rich.
You can grow herbs from seed, or buy them in any garden center. Pay attention to the height the herbs will grow, and plant accordingly, so that they will all get plenty of sunshine, something that herbs need. Make sure the herbs get at least half a day of sunshine.
Lavender and Rosemary will grow into big bushy plants, so give them lots of room. As you begin to plant, plan room to get to the herbs and harvest them. You can build stepping stone paths in your garden, or plant them well apart if you have a big enough space. Wood chips between plants will help keep the moisture in, and yet allow you a less muddy place to walk.
Be careful not to plant mint in your garden with your other herbs, as this will take over the entire space. Mint needs to be planted in a container or in a spot all its own. I like to plant it against the house or a fence, and let my sons mow the very edges. It smells wonderful.
Once your plants are 6 or more inches tall or taller, you can begin to harvest them. Cut off around 1/3 of the ends of the plant. Cut near a leafy section, so the plant will not look too spindly. You can use the herb fresh, or dehydrate them for future use.
There are so many ways to use the herbs. Consider a good book to go buy, or check the internet for information. Rosemary can be used to cook with, chicken is especially good with it, cookies can be made with Rosemary, and it makes an excellent hair rinse for dark hair. Rosemary also makes wonderful soap that is good for your teen’s skin. Lamb’s ear is a good band aid for cuts. Oregano helps you make fresh spaghetti sauce, and can be used to season other dishes. Catnip makes a wonderful tea to calm your nerves and help you sleep. It’s good for your baby’s tummy if he has colic. Chamomile is another tea that is good for nerves, and it makes a good hair rinse for blondes. Peppermint is an excellent tea for upset stomachs. I sometimes put this in water and let it simmer on the stove when we have the flu, as just the smell can help settle uneasy stomachs. Fennel is good for bad breath, and stimulates milk in a nursing mother. Garlic is a good antitoxin, and sprinkling it on your dog’s food will help ward off fleas. Pennyroyal can be made into a tea and sprayed on a dogs coat for fleas, too, and it will also help control pests around your house.
There are so many herbs and so many ways to use them that they could not all be listed here. A little research will yield a fun and beneficial hobby!