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2019 Grow Something Challenge

I recently shared a series of photos on my Instagram feed that illustrated the difference between homegrown herbs and herbs I purchased from a distributor. The photos showed homegrown herbs that were harvested 7 months ago and 1.5 years ago, and distributor-purchased herbs so you could see how different the level of quality was between batches. My hope was to inspire you to grow (at least some of) your own herbs and to source from local farms near you when you can’t.

Growing herbs has helped me connect to the plants I use in my kitchen, home and apothecary more than any other way I have interacted with them. It’s brought a level of depth to the way I practice and work with plants and it’s become a major part of my lifestyle. I love it so much that I want to share that with everyone, but I also recognize that we really do need more people growing herbs. Every year, as herbal awareness grows, we are seeing more and more shortages of the plants we use in our remedies.We need more herb farmers to help meet this growing demand, but we also need more people growing herbs on a small scale in their own gardens to help increase mindfulness, sustainability, and connectedness in this exciting realm of herbal therapies.

So I’m hosting a challenge. I challenge you to grow at least one herb that you’ve never grown this year. An herb that you love and use often or want to get to know. Whether you have acres of land at your disposal or one sunny windowsill or a spot on your kitchen counter where you can set up a light with a potted plant, I’m challenging you to grow one thing you haven’t grown before.

This is the perfect time of year to start some seeds, so I’d encourage you to browse the online catalog over at Strictly Medicinal Seeds (or your fav herb seed company – they’re often my company of choice), choose at least one packet of seeds to add to your seed collection, and place your order so you can get your seeds in the mail in time to get them started for the season. Try to choose a plant that will work with the growing conditions you know you’re going to have. Growing something with a long tap root in a small pot on your kitchen counter won’t work out as well as growing something that is more shallow rooted, for instance. If you can match your space to the plant, you’ll be setting yourself up for success right from the start.

As your plant grows throughout the season, I would encourage you to learn how to tune into it, to anticipate its needs; to learn how to care for your plant so it will really thrive in your home or garden. Share photos of your progress on social media throughout the growing season with the hashtag #floranellagardenchallenge so I can see what you’re growing and other participants can connect with you.

At the end of the year, I’ll choose one challenge participant to whom I will send a package with some of my favorite gardening tools and supplies.

I hope you’ll join in the fun! Leave a comment below to let me know what you’re going to grow for the challenge. I’d love to hear. Let’s get growing. =)

Much love,

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Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

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AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit www.aromaculture.com for more information.

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26 thoughts on “2019 Grow Something Challenge”

  1. Organicmom

    After seeing your post about the quality of store bought versus growing your own-I bought Yarrow (and Calendula) to grow. Very excited about trying to grow these two medicinal herbs!

    1. Erin Stewart

      Two excellent choices! Once you grow those two, you’ll never want to purchase them again. They’re a delight in the garden and the quality difference is no noticeable. Good luck!

  2. Well, I’m so curious about Spilanthes. Spilanthes in your photos are practically leaping out and saying “me, me!” So that’s what I choose. Thanks for this fun challenge! Yes, we need more herb growers, and to grow them ourselves!

    1. Erin Stewart

      An excellent choice! Spilanthes is such a fun and beautiful plant. Good luck! =)

  3. Hi Erin,
    I just ordered Borage from the Strictly Medicinals catalog. I already receive your emails so I won’t sign up again. I will make an effort to participate in the growing challenge and sow the seeds in my community garden plot here in the NE.

    1. Erin Stewart

      What a wonderful idea! The bees love borage so much and it self sows readily here. You’ll have a love of fun with it. Good luck!

  4. Susan Margetts

    I am going to give Arnica a try this year and up my growing of Calendula > Looking forward to a great growing season

  5. I’m trying Saint John’s Wort. I want to make trauma oil and need those fresh flowers from Saint John’s Wort. I’ll see how it goes!! If you grow Saint John’s Wort, is it invasive? I haven’t found a clear answer to that question.

    1. Erin Stewart

      It’s considered an invasive species in some states, which is why seed companies don’t ship it everywhere. In other states it’s sometimes listed as a noxious weed. I grow mine in a raised bed with borders and forage for any extra that I need and it seems to do fine. It spreads pretty quickly. =)

  6. I am going to plant broadleaf plantain, it grows wild everywhere here but I use it a lot in salves and it’s a wonderful ground cover (unwanted plant deterrent???). Excited for this challenge and I had been contemplating today, ahh the universe ❤️

  7. Excited to plant the comfrey and calendula I got from Strictly Medicinal Seeds—and so happy for the community-feel as I dive in. Also, this is my first attempt at growing healing herbs in my Brooklyn garden space. I have been formulating remedies for a while, but never with home-grown plants. As my small production grows, I have been feeling uncomfortable with the amount of flowers, roots, and leaves contributing their lives and life force without being in relationship with their needs.

    Thank you for the inspiration and emphasis on reciprocity!

    1. Erin Stewart

      I’m so happy to hear that you’ll be growing some of your herbs in Brooklyn this year! Wishing you luck, Sophia! That calendula will brighten up your garden space. =)

  8. Calendula, Ashwaganda, California poppy, and oats are my new trials!

  9. Diana Fowler

    I accept your challenge too. I was given some Moringa seed and have a couple up and going. I would also like to add calendula this year as well. I set up a Instagram account just because of the seed swap but have not done anything with it yet. Thank you, love your ways! Oh yeah, I got some ashwaganda too, they are playing” hard to get” going though. 🙂

    1. Erin Stewart

      Moringa is a fun one! I lost last year’s plant in the frosts, but I have a new one that’s a few inches high indoors right now. Good luck with your calendula and ashwagandha!

  10. This is exciting. I’ve ordered calendula and an Ashitaba plant and the seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds . . . also trying to sprout turmeric. I am anxious to have the turmeric sprout, as both my husband and I use turmeric daily.

  11. I would like to get in on this challenge. Plan to grow toothache plants, ashitaba, calendula, turmeric, and sweet violets. These will all be a first try for me this year.

  12. Linda Becker

    I have trouble sleeping and have mild anxiety. Can you tell me what would be best for this issue. Have heard that extracts are more concentrated and work better. Would you recommend camomile, or Valerian or some other combination.

    1. Erin Stewart

      I would recommend working with your local healthcare team and perhaps an herbalist in your own area to discover things that could help you that will also be tailored to your specific situation, health history, and body type.

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