It is time once again to fine tune our gardens into mean, lean, veggie growing machines. How can we make this year’s garden even better than the last? How can we work along with nature? How about this...Try planting herbs and flowers to make gardens more diverse and nature friendly. Plants like fennel and dill attract honey bees, butterflies and ladybugs to our gardens while adding flavor and medicine to our kitchens. When we diversify our gardens, we are encouraging a holistic life. When our garden’s immune system is stimulated, the food that comes out of it will then fill our bodies with vitality.
...known to enhance our immune systems...
One family of herbs, Echinacea spp, attracts beneficial insects such as honey bees and butterflies. Without these insects, our plants would not get pollinated and we would have no food. Predator insects would start to move in. Echinacea also attracts birds when it goes to seed. Echinacea has been known to enhance our immune systems by making more white blood cells. Digging the roots of third-year plants in the fall is an example of traditional herbal medicine. A person could dry these roots and use them in tea to help stave off the first signs of cold and flu.
...high in micro nutrients...
Red Clover can also be planted to attract honey bees. The roots of this plant travel deep into the ground and attract nitrogen fixating bacteria. These bacteria also feed our veggie plants, keeping them green and healthy. Red clover has been known to cleanse human blood and supply the lungs with extra oxygen for healing.
Warning: Red clover is a blood thinner, for those who are already on medication. I always let a few red clover plants grow among my garden and find it a wonderful companion, always ready to feed and nurture its neighboring plant.
Red clover is high in micro nutrients that can feed our soil and our bodies. One of my favorite things about spring is going to the garden and nibbling these vibrant, purple blossoms.
Last season, I sat in awe watching hundreds of honey bees sampling powerful pollen from my garlic chives. These bees may have needed that powerful, natural antibiotic at that time. It seems the bees have a powerful instinctual confidence in their pollen collections. By diversifying our plants, our bees have a better chance of survival.
...help ward off unwanted insects.
Planting herbs, such as lemon balm, sage, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary can also help ward off unwanted insects. These plants also make wonderful teas, sauces, and facial steams. Using pesticides (even ones labeled organic) can harm our fragile insect community. Be careful of large retail outlets who may spray. Get your plants from a reliable sources.
We can be at one with our gardens. We can benefit beyond the everyday uses of our gardens. With a little help, our gardens can be a medicine chest for honey bees and other beneficial insects. Take the initiative to plant and eat diversely this season.
About the Writer:
Colleen Smith lives in The Ozark hill land of Missouri, near the head waters of The Courtois Creek. She home schools her three daughters while gardening and wild-crafting a wide variety of plants. Colleen is constantly reminded of the abundance The Earth provides for us all. She has a degree in horticulture and studied herbalism in Silver City, New Mexico for four years. She continues to educate herself through books, lectures, and experiences. Her goal is to bring plant power to the people and develop a consciousness of land stewardship in The Ozark Region.