Chestnut Herbal School

Medicinal Herb Cultivation

Fire Cider

Hibiscus Pomegranate Fire Cider Recipe

One of my favorite ways to use hibiscus (oh, count the ways!) is in fire cider. Fire cider is basically a spicy herbal vinegar, often sweetened with a little honey. It’s taken by the dropperful or spoonful, depending on the cider’s strength and imbiber’s palette. Fire cider helps to clear out the sinuses and wake up the immune and circulatory systems. It can be taken to ward off a cold or other respiratory infection.

Lemon Balm Pesto

Lemon Balm Pesto Recipe

Back in the day, when I ran an in-person herbal school, my students would pick one herb and give a presentation on its medicinal qualities along with a sample: a spot of tea, a taste of tincture, or sometimes a nibble of the plant. When a student told me she’d be preparing lemon balm pesto, I gave an encouraging smile, belying my apprehension. I am a decidedly adventurous eater, but this pesto felt wrong. Never have I been so happy to eat crow.

Lemon Balm

The Medicinal Benefits of Lemon Balm

With its citrusy aroma and quilted lime-green leaves, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) brightens our gardens and kitchens alike. This mint family medicinal is known as the “gladdening herb” for the uplifting qualities it brings to the spirit. Children have a particular fondness for its sunny aroma and sour flavor. Bees are equally fond of the herb—so much so that the Greek word for bee, melissa, is another name for the plant. 

Three bin compost system built from reclaimed lumber

Compost Magic for the Medicinal Herb Garden

Can you believe that you have the ability to turn garbage into beautiful soil? Well, with the help of millions of microorganisms, you can turn your waste into an incredibly useful material. Composting can be a magical art of transforming garbage into black gold. How sweet is that? Being a soil-builder instead of a landfill-contributor is righteous work for the times! Be a Green Magician! Both your herbs and the earth will thank you.