Our Botanical Kitchen Garden

lavender aThis summer we spent some time rehabbing a spot near the kitchen door where an old evergreen shrub had been.  Heleene spent a good deal of time weeding and prepping this spot, but we also decided to add a number of raised boxes full of new dirt and our very own goat compost too.  We even got a little arty and varied the sizes and shapes and stained them red and turquoise.  We thought our new raised kitchen garden was the right spot to try growing some of the botanicals we use in our soap making.

dried flowers02If you’ve tried our soap you are probably familiar with our calendula variety.  It’s one of our favorite botanicals because it has so many skin benefits.  It’s full of flavanoids, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal benefits.  It’s great on many skin complaints, everything from diaper rash to athlete’s foot.  And it makes a great soap or lotion for healthy skin, too.  So naturally we planted some of it, or “Pot Marigold” as it’s commonly known.

Our kitchen garden wouldn’t be complete without lavender.  While most lavender oil in the world comes from the lavandula x intermedia varieties, we live in Wisconsin and most of the lavender around here is lavandula angustifolia, or English lavender.  It has a better chance of surviving the winters.  We found a great book at the library “The Lavender Lovers’ Handbook” by Sarah Berringer Bader and followed its advice to prune after planting so that the plant would put its energy into its roots.  Next year we’ll prune in the spring and harvest flowers in the fall.  By the third year it should be well-established.  We hope our sunny south side garden boxes will help it through the winter.

chamomile aAlthough we haven’t used it before, we are growing some chamomile and have harvested and dried our first batches of its dainty flowers.  We plan on using it in some of bath recipes.  Can you imagine a nice bath with chamomile and lavender after the end of a hard day?  We can.

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