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My German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has been growing very well this year. I had a few plants come up form last years seeds and I planted a few more to increase my harvest.Chamomile 2 (Matricaria recutita)

The flowers really make me smile. The plant is so delicate looking with pinnately divided leaf – almost feather-like and small white disc flowers. I love seeing them bloom. I harvest the flower and enjoy a cup of tea using the fresh flowers, but most of them I dry to use later. When I am picking the flower heads I can’t resist giving them a sniff because they give off a nice light apple fragrance.

Chamomile, a member of the aster family (asteraceae), is native to Europe and western Asia and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It is one of the most popular herbs used in the Western world.  I grow and use German chamomile. I dry the flowers to store and use when I need them.

Growing German Chamomile:

  • German Chamomile is a cool-season annual. In my area S. Texas, it will reseed itself. I usually help it along by crumbling up a few dry flowers in the late fall when I scatter seeds for larkspur and poppy. Be frugal, be sure to save a few extra for more seeds later, or share with a friend. The information I find on it says to “sow the seeds outside 4-6 weeks before your last frost, or as soon as the soil can be worked” or “late fall when the soil is too cold for seeds to germinate.” You can also start with a plant from your local nursery or start your seeds inside 8-10 weeks before the last frost in your area.
  • You can grow German Chamomile in the ground or in container. Whatever works for best you.
  • Can get very bushy and stand about 3′ tall. Mine is about 2′ tall
  • I likes full sun. Since we get so hot here I have planted mine where it will get afternoon shade. The plants will get very leggy if there is too much shade.
  • They don’t need a lot of water, but will benefit from it during dry conditions, and when they start to flower.Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

My plants are done for the season already. they are not putting on anymore fresh blooms and the bottom foliage is starting to turn yellow. We are well into some summer-like temps and have already hit 98F this season. I will leave the rest of the blooms on the plant to help re-seed the area, but like I mentioned above, I will save some seed head for sowing later. the reason I do both is that I will still be putting a layer of horse manure and/or other compost on all the herb gardens and then a thick layer of mulch and a lot of those seeds will get buried too deep, so I will need to sprinkle those seeds later in the fall to ensure that I have plants popping up next spring.

So, what can chamomile be used for?  Anxiety, insomnia, canker sores (mouthwash), irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and heartburn, acid reflux, gastrointestinal complaints, treat skin conditions and mild infections. What do I use it for? Mainly to relax in the evening to help with sleep and stress, but also for an aid with digestion. How do I use it? As a tea.

Whether you grow German chamomile to harvest the blooms or not, it is a very pretty plant and adds a nice bloom to your spring garden.

Do you have German Chamomile growing in your garden? What do you use it for?

Sincerely, Emily

 

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The celery leaf plant that I grew in the winter of 2011/12 did so well that this past winter I planted four of them. 4 nice celery leaf plants in the garden.

Celery Leaf Feb 2013

Celery Leaf Feb 2013

It was very easy to grow and I used it a lot in our green salads. stir fry and egg salad.

When the weather starts to warm up  I usually let several plants go to seed so I can collect the seeds to use the next year. The celery leaf was no exception. In fact, it is still sending up flower heads even though I haven’t been watering it. The bees and the butterflies continue to appreciate it.

Some of the seed heads have dried up and a few weeks ago I went out and clipped a few to collect the seeds for planting again this fall. The others, I just left out there. I had plans to get it pulled up and in the compost tumbler, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I am glad.

The one thing I didn’t connect the dots on was celery seed is celery seed! Not sure how I missed that…. but luckily some of my brain waves were firing last week when I was making up the dilled green cherry tomatoes . Celery seed was the one thing I added to Nancy’s recipe… so I guess it was in the front of my mind. Celery seed is celery seed.

Celery seed

Celery seed

I dusted off one of the screens for the drying rack and I marched back out to the garden with the clippers. I clipped several stalks of celery leaf with lovely mature seed heads. We had a sprinkling of rain that morning so those seed heads are quite wet. They are now resting on the drying rack, drying out a bit. I left several mature stalks out in the garden and will let them dry naturally before I cut and bring them in to dry out a bit more.

I have been watching the celery leaf go to seed for a few months. Somehow I never connected “celery seeds” to “celery seeds”

Am I making any sense?

Has something every stared you in the face for a while before you had the “ah ha” moment?

Sincerely, Emily

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