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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Make an Herbal Container Tea Garden


Herbal teas; also known as "tisanes" are a must-have for any tea drinker.  But if you live in a small space, you may not realize how easy it is to have a small tea garden with herbs.  Many herbs do quite well in containers and they make a great little display as well.  I like my herbs in containers because I can locate them wherever I want and not have to create an flower bed for them.  I also don't have to weed them either.  

I wouldn't recommend putting all your tea herbs in one small pot.  They will grow into beautiful large plants if you separate them and not stuff them into one spot.  Also, when you grow them all together, the more vigorous plants tend to overtake the smaller ones and you can potentially lose an herb this way. Even though those pots with several kinds of herbs look really cute - if you're growing your plants for harvest, this one pot/many herb method really doesn't work well.


                                             1. Start with the Basics.

There are quite a few herbs to choose for your tea garden and the list goes on and depending on what you like.  The basic herbs you will want to include for sure are the mints and chamomile.  When I started drinking herbals, chamomile was my first tea.  It wasn't my favorite but that was because I was drinking it in tea bags (yuk) and using older flowers from herb shops.  Growing your own is a totally different taste sensation.  The taste is fresher, brighter and all around better.  It easy to grow too.  I started mine in the fall in containers and let it overwinter.  It came up fine on its own and I didn't have to do anything really.  Or you can purchase a few plants to get your garden started.  If you leave a few flowers on the plant toward the end of the season, it will easily self-sow.  Just don't empty out the soil from the container. 


                2. Grow Herbs that Will be the Base Flavor for your Own Tea Blends.

For me that is the mints.  I have been growing two different peppermints as well as spearmint for years in pots.  I have found that the best way to keep the strains and flavor of peppermints pure and contained is to grow them this way.  I have a wonderful chocolate mint and a blue balsam mint.  I also keep the mints flavors intact by keeping them from flowering by keeping the leaves picked.  I harvest the top portion of the stem on each stalk and let them air dry or gently dry them in my dehydrator. 
Growing them in the containers makes it easy for me to keep them harvested regularly than if left in a garden bed where they tend to spread and it becomes easy to let them go.  By regularly harvesting the leaves and not letting them flower, they don't cross pollinate, set seed and produce a new diluted mint flavored plant as my other mints have.  

Growing mints and chamomile gives you two great flavor profiles in which to add in other herbs from the garden.  Especially if you are growing herbs for medicine.  Many of the medicinal herbs are bitter tasting by themselves so it's great to add mint and/or chamomile to flavor your own blend.  They also taste great by themselves.

 

3. There are lots of Herbs to Choose for Your Garden.

Besides the herbs mentioned above, there are some great herbs out there to add to your tea garden.  You can start with a few herbs and add some more each season.  I have grown Pineapple Sage, Lemon Balm, Hyssop and don't forget to add a Stevia plant to your garden.  These can grow in containers well and you can use the leaves fresh or dried to sweeten your teas.  I often add dry stevia leaves to my tea blends to naturally sweeten them.  Be adventurous in your tea herbs too, lemon thyme and lemon basil can be refreshing as a tea too.


                      4. Remember to Feed your Container Herbs and Water 
                                                      Them Regularly.
 
Because these plants are living in pots you need to make sure to use a fish emulsion or other organic food once or twice in the summer.  I find I don't need to do much except water the pots if they look a bit wilt-y.  If the summer is really hot, I often move them to a part shade location until they begin to perk up a bit.  Mints tend to like some shade and this is a bonus to growing in containers.

So don't let a lack of space limit you from making your own herbal teas.  Even if you have smaller pots on a patio space or porch, just make sure they get some decent sun and keep them watered for your own fresh teas.  You'll definitely taste the difference.

Blessings!!

What are your favorite tea herbs?

More posts on growing plants in containers:  Container Plant How-To's and How to Plant a Cottage-Style Window Box


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17 comments:

  1. So agree that just because space may be an issue doesn't mean that gardening has to be! I have many plants in pots-just need to incorporate herbs-
    thanks for the info!
    Happy Hugs,
    Jemma

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    1. Thanks Jemma...It's worked out really well for me to grow them in pots...I don't have to do much to them and that's always a bonus! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Nice tips for making herbal tea container garden. It is looking like very natural. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Glan Deas
    Kopi Luwak

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  3. I like this idea of a "tea garden"! It sounds so tranquil, thanks for the inspiration. We put our dried lavender into teas too...

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    1. Dried lavender in tea sounds delish! Great idea...thanks for passing it on - I will have to give it a try this year!

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  4. This has inspired me to try some herbal teas! I am growing several herbs that I think would work well (lemon balm and lemon thyme) so I'll have to try it. I like the idea of making the tea garden in containers since some of the herbs can be really invasive. Although we are trying to cover a large area of our garden with herbs so invasive is perfect for us :)

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    1. I have lemon balm in a flower bed since we use so much of it. It's in full sun though so I think the heat beats it back some and it doesn't spread way too much but just enough so we have plenty of fresh leaves for drinking teas and making tinctures. Hope your tea garden grows well!!

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  5. Hi there! I love growing herbs for tea and enjoyed this post very much. It's a great idea to contain those mints in pots as I learned a few years ago, and like you, I love not having to do all that much with them come springtime.
    Have a great weekend.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I totally agree about the mints - I am still pulling out rogue apple mint 10 years later...ugh! :)

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  6. Agreed. Thanks for sharing at Wildcrafting Wed.
    Jennifer

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  7. I saw your link through Frugally Sustainable and couldn't wait to check out your blog. I love the notion of a tea garden, especially as I sit here sipping a cup of vanilla red rooibos tea, yum! My husband continues to advise me to grow my own herbs to make my own teas, as much as I drink them. I grow herbs, just not for teas. Your post has certainly been an encouragement to make a consorted effort in that direction. Thank you for such a great post. I have a natural medicine cabinet roster that would work great with managing your herbal tea harvest! Thanks again!

    http://www.mamaeconomics.net/the-natural-medicine-cabinet-roster

    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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    1. Thanks so much for the comments, I believe you'll really enjoy growing them for tea as well. You can't beat the freshness and the flavor. I will check it out your natural medicine roster too!! :))

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  8. Great idea :) I love container gardens and herbs too...so that's a great combo!
    Thanks for sharing your post with us on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you tomorrow!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/05/the-homeacre-hop-20.html

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  9. Last week I had the inspiration to do this very project. Great minds think alike! I have also added a Camellia Sinensis bush in a bigger pot as a centerpiece. That way I can grow my own proper Tea as well! What fun!

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