krazykikikat
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:31 pm
Location: Austin, MN (Hardiness zone 4b)

Seeking advice on herb gardening in MN

First, let me post a disclaimer: as the herbs I wish to grow will be used for medicinal and culinary, as well as magical purposes, not all of them are strictly "herbs". If you have an opinion against witchcraft that you cannot separate from your gardening advice, I beg you not to post.
Anyway, if you don't know anything about magical herbs, what I mean by the above is that many shrubs, trees, or even weeds are contained in lists of magical herbs if they have some magical or medicinal use. But many of them are herbs, and that's why I decided to post this here, rather than other subforums. I wasn't sure the general gardening tips would be right, since I'm looking for rather specific advice.
To better help you help me, here is a basic (okay, extensive) list of magical herbs: [url]https://www.funkes.com/herbs/magicherbs1.html[/url] You can pretty much disregard the ones that are actually trees, as I don't plan on planting any, and, obviously, the ones that are listed as poisonous. I also recommend you disregard the uses listed, especially if you scoff at magical herbalism... this is simply the first site I found with an extensive list contained on one page; I have no illusions that I can use yew to raise the dead, as this page suggests.

Now that you have all that complicated background... congratulations and thank you to anyone who actually got through that and is still reading... here is my actual question: Which herbs could I most easily grow in my zone, and how should I go about it? I have enough yard space for a small garden, but no fences. I also have an AeroGarden with only three slots, one of which I plan to use for lettuce. Are there any herbs which you suggest I should grow in the AeroGarden, rather than outside, perhaps due to a susceptibility to pests, a need for water, or an inability to survive the MN winters?
Any specific tips on cultivating any of the herbs in the list (again, minus trees and poisonous herbs) would be greatly appreciated. :D

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

magickal herbs

Interesting idea. I have a small culinary/medicinal herb garden.

Is your herb garden in full sun? Most herbs prefer that, though some tolerate other situations.

The list is extensive (i.e. VERY LONG) and a big mixture of stuff, trees, annuals, perennials. I don't quite know how to attack it...

Here's just a little to start with. The ones that are annuals or treated as such, it doesn't matter about your zone, you just replant them every spring, after frost is over. That includes: Sweet alyssum, amaranth, barley, basil, beans, beets (it is a strange list, the rest of us would call amaranth and barley grains and beans and beets vegetables not herbs :) )buckwheat, cabbage, cucumber, endive, garlic, gourds, grains, marigolds, parsley, snapdragon. I may have missed some, I was trying to just go through the list quickly and find what I recognized.

That's all the time I have for your project right now... it's time to get out in my garden (I was doing this while waiting for it to warm up). What I will try to do next time I come back is just go through the list again and spot a few of my favorite, non-tree, non-shrub perennials that are hardy to zone 4...

In the meantime it would help if you let us know whatever you can about conditions , ie what I said about is it full sun, what your soil is like (wet/dry, acid, etc) , how much care you are willing to give things, etc. How big is your "small" garden, how much experience do you have growing things? How many "herbs" were you thinking about? Some of the non-herby items above take a lot of space, especially cucumber and gourds.

Hopefully others of the herbalists on the forum will stop by and make contributions...

krazykikikat
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:31 pm
Location: Austin, MN (Hardiness zone 4b)

Thanks!
Well, to answer your questions... the soil here seems to be very rich, as Minnesota soil usually is... very dark and full of nutrients, from what I can tell. I have been allocated an area in a triangle shape that gets full sun most of the day... I would say it's about five or six square feet altogether. I would have to pull up some of the lawn to make an area for the garden, and I anticipate the soil underneath will be very rich. However, that particular area has a bit of a sinkhole, so I might need to bring in extra soil. What kind do you think I should add?
I don't have a whole lot of experience growing things. I've lived in so many climates throughout my life, I just don't even know where to start, how to treat the same plants in different environments, etc. I was hoping to have room for about ten, maybe a few more, types of herbs. I wasn't planning on planting vegetables either, I guess I didn't scan that list too carefully. :P
As for shrubby things, if I were to plant them, I would likely not include them in the main herb garden, and instead plant them along one side of the house. Do any of the shrubs in that list like partial shade, or shade for part of the day?

a0c8c
Greener Thumb
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:00 pm
Location: Austin, TX

If you start the new garden I'd definately get soem organic soil and compost. If they're beig used for medical/culinary uses thatn you defintaley don't want chemicals in them. A chamomile tea with chemicals defeats the purpose of the natural tea. I'm sure it's the same for your witchcraft uses. Are you Wican or something different? I've got a couple Wican friends and they're good people.

krazykikikat
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:31 pm
Location: Austin, MN (Hardiness zone 4b)

a0c8c wrote:If you start the new garden I'd definately get soem organic soil and compost. If they're beig used for medical/culinary uses thatn you defintaley don't want chemicals in them. A chamomile tea with chemicals defeats the purpose of the natural tea. I'm sure it's the same for your witchcraft uses. Are you Wican or something different? I've got a couple Wican friends and they're good people.
I learn most of my witchcraft from Wicca, but I don't necessarily consider myself Wiccan. Though it is a much looser religion than most, I still find any religion with doctrines too constricting for me. I believe in many of the cores of Wicca, but I don't strictly practice it.

On another subject, I just discovered this interesting product: [url]https://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/b7d7/[/url]
Basically an AeroGarden without a light, and significantly cheaper. Anyone seen these before, used them, heard reviews? I think it would work very well for culinary herbs, at the least! What do you think?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

zone 4 herbs

Here's a selection from your list that are hardy at least to zone 4 and like full sun. The rest of the list is trees, shrubs, or annuals, is not winter hardy enough, are shade lovers that don't like full sun, or I just wasn't familiar enough with them to recommend them. All of the below should do well for you:

*anemone -- thimbleweed is a native anemone and is hardy to zone 3.
*lemon balm or Melissa officinalis zone 4 -- easy to grow, quick spreader, good healing herb, makes a lovely tea. Officinalis means that it was part of the officially recognized pharmacopiea of healing herbs
*bedstraw-- cleavers or sweet woodruff zone 4 - two different plants both in the galium family go by bedstraw and are both hardy. Sweet woodruff is a prettier plant, but doesn't love full sun. Might do ok if given protection from hot afternoon sun. Insect repellant.
*bee balm zone 4 bergamot-- one of my favorites, easy to grow in all kinds of conditions, hummingbirds love it (I always have some in a pot on my deck so the hummingbirds will come and visit me there), healing herb and makes lovely tea.
*caraway biennial-- sets caraway seed the second season then dies
*german chamomile annual self seeds
*comfrey-- zone 4, easy to grow, good healing herb
*echinacea --zone 3 purple coneflower, very pretty. Good healing herb, but I think the root is what is used for healing, for which you have to destroy the plant
*feverfew --zone 4 with lots of winter protection or treat as annual. Very pretty dainty little daisies, good for treatment of migraines and other headaches
*joe pye weed-- some species to zone 3 some only to zone 5, so you have to check. Tall grand plant to have in your garden. Keeps the seed heads all winter, so adds winter interest. Butterflies like it.
*peppermint/ spearmint --zone 3, but not all mints are. But where it is hardy, it tends to be very aggressive spreader, best grown in containers.
*mullein-- zone 3 tall stately plant. Also known as Quaker rouge because the fuzzy leaves are a bit irritating when rubbed on the skin, so the Quaker ladies who weren't allowed to wear make up (in the old days) used it to pinken up. But the huge thick soft basal leaves were also used by native americans to cushion their moccasins
*pansy-- cold hardy annual
*pokeweed-- zone 2 amazingly tough hardy native that grows from zone 2 to zone 11, which I think is the whole country. But gets HUGE, too big for your garden. Very pretty and tropical looking. Can be toxic if eaten, but the birds love the pretty purple berries and suffer no ill effects.
*rosemary- not winter hardy even where I am, but grow it in a pot and bring it in for the winter. Good culinary and healing herb
*sage-- zone 5 might make it in 4b with lots of winter protection or grow it in a pot too. Likewise good medicinal and culinary herb
*white snakeroot-- zone 4 I planted white snakeroot in my native shade garden and now I am pulling it out by the bale full, too aggressive in my conditions
yarrow -- zone 3-- pretty button flowers good in medicinal teas, insect repellant.

Have fun getting your herb garden started!

Susan W
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1859
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

Interesting question and project! Funny how plants bring people together. Let me briefly say what I am doing, sort-of. And it does mesh with your project in The Frozen North.
And thanks to Rainbow for her work.

I am quite involved with 18th c living history and re-enacting. Most in the SE. And more than this, have helped with the herb garden at Ft Toulouse, AL. This is French and Native, 1750. For that we look at herbs and plants that are native to the region, and introduced (Euro). This type of garden and info is gaining more interest around the historic sites.
Let me say, I have herbs and flowers in my home garden that I just like. Some used in cooking (not enough) some just because, yarrow and coneflower good examples.

OK, back to your question. May I suggest to make notes of plants you are interested in. Google is a great tool for finding out more. Also find out perhaps from library or google, what plants the Natives grew and used in your region. If there is an historic site near you, visit. And if there is a garden is sometimes planted for pretty, but hopefully planned by someone who knows a little bit more.

Hope this makes sense, and gives another avenue for looking.

Keep us posted! This is an interesting project. And you have a long winter to work on it. ( don't think you will be planting now, I say smiling from the mid-south....!!)
Have fun!
Susan

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Without further ado, please visit https://www.horizonherbs.com/ for an extensive list of traditional herbs and other plants used in medicinal and thaumaturgic ways.

I know I've mentioned Horizon Herbs before on THG, but can't at the moment find the thread(s).

Also, for general information on the needs of different classes of plants, when to plant, how much sun, etc., check out your local public library under the Dewey Decimal category of 635. They'll have the tried and true books as well as the latest books!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

krazykikikat
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:31 pm
Location: Austin, MN (Hardiness zone 4b)

Thanks for all the feedback guys!
And some very interesting uses and history by Rainbow.

I will continue looking for information in libraries and online databases, but I wanted to make sure I got some advice from real people, because in my experience, the instructions listed on the seed packet or in the encyclopedia aren't always correct.

The only thing I'm still wondering is what to do with my AeroGarden. I am also considering buying one of the mini power-plant, shown here: [url]https://www.prepara.com/power_plant.php[/url], along with the grow light, which is sold separately. That would bring my total spaces for indoor herbs to three, MAYBE four if I could plant two that live well together in the power plant.
So first, I was wondering if anyone has tried the power plant for herbs, or anything at all. It is smaller than an AeroGarden, but cheaper as well, and the grow light is optional, in case you have a place you could put the pod where it would get full sunlight anyway, and, the best feature in my opinion, you can plant WHATEVER you want, without having to buy extra grow pods and a stupid book you don't need for an extra $30. (I am referring to the Master Gardener kit from Aero: [url]https://www.aerogardenstore.com/promotion/index.php?promoName=catalog&pageName=product&viewProduct=0356-00Z[/url]) And look at this, someone posted in the reviews the recommended procedure for planting your own seeds:
Use a paper or dinner plate as a work surface when you want to create pods using a Master Gardener kit. Using a pen, write the date and name of the plant on the label. To make seeds go where you want them and stay put, apply a couple drops of white glue to the plate's surface, open the sponge and dab the open edges on the glue. Add seeds to the plate, and dab the open surfaces of the sponge onto the seeds. This way, you can control how many seeds go into each pod, and none fall out during handling. Very helpful when handling tiny seeds like basil and cilantro!

Using the sandpaper, sand the flat top edges of the pod all the way around just enough to roughen them. Just enough to ensure the label can stick to the glue. An emery board works about as well; sanding takes a few seconds.

Place the label face down on the plate, open the glue bottle and apply a thin line of white glue around the edges. Put the sponge holding your seeds into the pod, with the cut edge pointing to the top. Turn the pod upside down and firmly press the roughened edges onto the label. Rotate gently 1/8" to ensure a good seal between the label, glue, and the pod's top edge. Press firmly and let the pod you've just created to rest upside down for 20 minutes on a flat surface. When the glue is dry, plant the pods in the AeroGarden.
And that's not even all she said.
With the power-plant, you ALWAYS use your own seeds, and just pop them in a little fold in the middle of the grow sponge. No glue or sandpaper required.
Rawr.
End rant.

Anyway... am I thinking correctly that I would do best to use the hydroponic gardens to grow things that will not survive here in MN, or are aggressive? For instance: rosemary, some variety of mint, and sage? I also wonder if any of the herbs that I would do better to grow indoors would coexist well together. I think I could easily plant two herbs in the power plant mini, as long as they wouldn't kill each other. Any advice on that?

Also, just an afterthought... since AeroGarden is so full of itself, I need to buy everything in minimally-customizable kits. I would like to grow salad greens, but not in all three slots, yet the only salad greens kit comes with three pods. Therefore, I would like to store the remaining two for when the one I planted dies out. Any tips on how to store seeds already implanted in their little soil pods? I will also be purchasing the master gardener kit, which comes with soil pods without seeds. I assume storing these won't be too difficult, but I still wonder if there are any conditions I should make sure DON'T happen, so the soil doesn't get somehow ruined.

Thanks guys!

P.S. Also wondering about lavender. The munstead variety is supposedly good grown in containers, perhaps a candidate for my hydroponics? But other varieties (I am not sure which) can actually be grown as shrubs, and I would love to have a nice row of lavender. In this case as well, though, I am thinking I would do best to start it indoors and transplant when it is hardy in the spring?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

lavender

I didn't have lavender on my list because it is also not hardy in your winters generally. You could treat it like the rosemary and grow it in a container that you bring in for the winter. But I did notice that Gurney's is advertising a "Hardy Lavender" that they rate down to zone 4.

I don't know a thing about hydroponics, sorry. I am sure it's different than regular container growing...

Return to “Herb Gardening Forum”