It is finally March and even though that can mean very little in terms of weather changes here in Saskatchewan (read: there is still a lot of snow on the ground) it IS time to start planning and dreaming of spring and all things good and green.
In August 2020 we moved into a new house and my plan has always been to turn the front yard into a medicinal/wildflower garden.
My very sad north-facing front yard (picture from the listing before we bought the house!)
Bearing in mind that I am a pretty novice gardener, and a very new gardener in the Saskatchewan climate. We have super extreme weather - from +40 days in the summer to -40 in the winter and a short growing season.
Plus I have a shady north-facing yard with a massive (beautiful!) pine tree on the west side of the lot.... so it's going to be interesting to say the least. And I thought I'd bring you along!
Growing your own herbs is one of the easiest, most sustainable, and cheapest ways to get really beautiful and fresh plant medicines into your life. And the good news is that LOTS of medicinal plants are super easy to grow, and many of them are even considered *ahem* weeds, which will hopefully make my attempts a little easier.
So here is what I plan to do to get this process started:
Because why the hell not. I want to look up Pinterest-worthy images of yards that look like wildflower meadows. I want to choose plants that are not only medicinal, but also have pretty flowers, and that will attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
I'm going to start making lists of some of my favourite plants that are not only medicinal, but that are also gorgeous.
2. GET PRACTICAL
From there I will narrow down my selection to plants that I know will grow in my area. Last spring and summer I kept notes in my phone of medicinal and perennial plants that I saw growing in this climate, so I'll draw on those.
I spent a lot of walks last summer being creepy and taking pictures of people's gardens - so I know that Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) grows beautifully here :)
This will also be the research stage - I'll be calling on the expertise of folks who have gardened here for a long time. I was verrrry lucky to meet a few of these lovely humans when I did my Wild Medicine Walks here in 2020.
I am also lucky enough to have met a couple of rad herbalist/gardeners in Sask and will be leaning on the resources of Sommer from Sommer Love Herbs and Jenine from Edible Landscapes. If you are in the Southern Sask area and want to start growing medicinal plants (or buying beautiful locally made herbal products) then I highly recommend them both!
This is where I might try and get a *bit* technical and map out my yard and attempt to draw in some beds and how I want things to look and feel. I am trying to pay attention to where the light is hitting so I can be a bit strategic on where I plant things that need the most light.
Honestly, I'm trying to let go of the perfectionist side of myself and just give things a go, so this will very much be a trial-and-error type of garden.
4. BUY STUFF
Then I guess I will need to purchase, find, and salvage all the materials. I have quite a few seeds already, and have plans to do some trading with folks around town, but I will probably need to buy a few seeds and seedlings to get started (though I won't buy seedlings until we are closer to planting time).
I'm more likely going to need things like mulch, soil, and wood or bricks to create meandering beds. Last summer I made an easy raised bed out of a heat-treated pallet so I may use these again as they are everywhere. Last year I literally just found a couple in the alleyway and shouted over the fence to ask if I could take it away :).
I followed this tutorial, which had good info on how to ensure that you are getting heat-treated (and not chemical-treated) wood.
5. START PLANTING!
I'm going to start as much as I can from seed, and will hopefully be able to do some trading with friends and the lovely folks that I have met around town. My kitchen table is likely to be relegated to a seed-starting spot and we will eat dinner on the floor for the next 8 weeks lol.
Reusing egg cartons for seeds is awesome because they can simply be transplanted into the next-size of pot when they outgrow it. The cardboard will breakdown on its own and is good for the soil!
K now that I've made this list I guess I'd better get started! Tell me in the comments below if you are going to plant any herbs - culinary herbs count too (they are usually medicinal anyway!).
Keep posted for further updates or subscribe to my newsletter to get more updates and tips as I learn along the way.