Herb Gardening-Welcome Spring!

The snow is finally melting, the ephemerals are starting to pop up, the streams are trickling, the robins are back! This is such an exciting time in New England-especially after the winter we just had, with more snow and colder temperatures than ever recorded in history.
Time to dive into the growing season-if you have perennial herbs, they will start poking through soon if not already, and if you’re starting seeds indoors, now-if you haven’t already, is the time to start them. I whole-heartedly love growing herbs-its so incredibly fulfilling, creates a sense of security and empowerment for me, knowing that my medicine is close at hand-not to mention the vibrant beauty of them in the garden-whether harvested each year or not.

Here’s an excerpt from the Book!

People have used plants as medicine since the beginning of time.  Every culture around the world has or has lost a relationship to the plants of the region, whether wild or cultivated.  These healing plants have served our species well.  There was once a time, not in the too distant past, that people had some knowledge of plants to heal themselves, and in every village a person of more expertise on treating serious conditions.
Today we are focused on so many different things in our busy lives, and most of us have come to depend on systems of medicine that are outside of ourselves.  We have forgotten how to take care of ourselves, prevent illness, and treat common ailments when they arrive.  We may be fearful when something is off balance, in turn running to the nearest hospital or pharmacy.  We have forgotten how to grow and prepare the simplest of medicines to treat colds, flues, fevers, and headaches, promote sleep, etc.  We can get this knowledge back for vibrant well being.  We can grow a small number of herbs, take a small amount of time in our lives, and have security in knowing that we can heal.
Let us be empowered to take at least some of our health into our own hands, it is us who know our bodies from the inside out!  Growing a small number of medicinal herbs is a wonderful place to start.  By doing this, we start to remember our connection with these allies, this support system that lies within the earth, and our own optimal health.
Growing herbs is easy, and super fun!  Herbs are wonderful “weeds” that, when put into the right environment, will grow big and strong and full.  They want to spread, take over, and multiply, which is great, when they are planted where we want them!  The task becomes pruning, thinning, pulling, and harvesting.  Once herbs are established and growing in your yard, there is more abundance each year, rarely a worry of shortage.  They are flexible and hardy to many growing conditions, often times extreme or harsh weather. The key is to choose plants that are generally suited to your area, and the ones we have chosen for this book are very common and easy to grow in most areas.  Perennial herbs for the most part are the focus in this book, as they will proliferate for many years, therefore establishing the garden is a one-time endeavor.
Plants are effective medicine, not only for us, but for the garden.  They serve as pest control, and they heal the earth where it may have been stripped, or polluted.  Incorporating them into our lives enriches us, by soothing or stimulating the senses, and helping us feel better when sick.


Hunger Moon

In want and hunger was their lot,

They who fled to the parched wastelands:

They plucked saltwort and shrubs;

The roots of the broom plant were their food.

~Job 30:3-4, Translated from the Hebrew


What a great time of year for the herbalist. A quiet time when the plants are in relaxed dormancy beneath the snow….a time to dream, reflect, and plan.

By mid winter I have usually let go of the past season, and am ready to plan for the next. Each new year is so exciting, with so much green promise. I like to flip through seed catalogs, map out new garden beds if need be, reflect on what worked or didn’t work in the garden in the previous year, and plan what annuals I will plant to augment the perennials.

Along with planning the spring and summer, this is such a beautiful time to enjoy the medicines we have made from the plants we have grown last season. I find myself being drawn to the roots, berries, and barks at this time–there will most often be a simmering pot on the stove filled with astragalus, echinacea, cinnamon, ginger, dandelion, burdock, or yellow dock, just to name a few. Drinking infusions and decoctions daily for winter health is vital!

Enjoy this time of the hunger moon, for it will be so short–and soon enough we will be in the busy fray of the rapidly growing green again.

Welcome to our site

AlyssaandDedeWe are excited to begin this blog. Alyssa Holmes, the resident herbalist at Brattleboro Holistic Health Center and her neighbor, Dede Cummings have started the blog to acquaint our readers about our upcoming book, The Medicinal Gardening Handbook, which is coming out in the Spring of 2014.

We are looking forward to using this space to “create space” for our readers to tell their own stories and share ideas and recipes about their herbal remedies and gardening techniques.


Thanks for visiting!
Dede & Alyssa