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Garden Spaces: Grow an Immune System Strengthening Herb Garden

This immune system strengthening herb garden plan can help you sail heartily through winter.

| December/January 2012

  • This garden plan plant key will help you sail heartily through winter.
    Illustration by Gayle Ford
  • This garden plan can help you sail heartily through winter.
    Illustration by Gayle Ford

Design Plans: Grow These Herbs for Health in your Immune System Strengthening Herb Garden 

Winter is a trying time. One comfortable feeling is to have a stockpile of organic herbs from your garden that can ease the season’s challenges. An immune system strengthening herb garden can help you head into winter with a strong immune system as well as provide relief in the war on wayward germs, sniffles and other ailments that stalk us this time of year.

For us gardeners, it’s a happy serendipity that at least some of the immune system strengthening herbs that are most effective in this fight are also splendid additions to the garden. Take echinacea, for example—a quick boost to the immune system that is also a hardworking, hardy perennial commonly known as purple coneflower, with drooping ray petals in vibrant colors—and garlic, splendid in its own delicious way and easy to tuck into little spaces in sunny places.

This little garden is designed to provide a hefty harvest of these and other herbs to dry for both the kitchen pantry  and the medicine chest, as well as a steady supply of tea herbs for comfort and relief, and even antioxidant-rich culinary herbs in tasty supporting roles. It’s a cheerful space, abundant but tidy.

Raise the Middle
This is a dual-level garden—a garden within a garden. The raised brick bed in the center provides the excellent drainage and sunny exposure, which herbs like oregano, thyme and sage demand in order to thrive. Rosemary, horseradish and ginger can be grown in pots or fairly large containers, the horseradish because of its aggressiveness and rosemary and ginger for their tender nature; it’s easy to whisk potted ginger or rosemary indoors to a sunny windowsill when temperatures drop.

Having that tidy raised space in the center (or near an edge) lets the gardener be lavish in the area surrounding it. The beauty of the purple coneflower is enhanced by the mass planting—and the extreme usefulness of this plant makes it a good one to dry and store to have through the changing of the seasons. An immune-strengthening tea can be made from a decoction of the roots or an infusion of the flowering tops.

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