My garden space on the farm is nearly all built now. Edging is all down, trellis up, and the cover crop is now tilled under. Now we plant!
The first thing I planted was Chamomile.
Chamomile is a common name for many different species of daisy-like flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. The two species of Chamomile used for herbal infusions is Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). We have planted German Chamomile.
German Chamomile is native to most of Europe, but does just fine in temperate North America. It is an annual, however it is proficient at self-seeding, so you won’t always have to actively replant your chamomile.
I wanted to grow Chamomile for herbal infusion simply because I have always enjoyed it myself. I think we’ve all had at least one cup of “Sleepy Time” tea, hoping to soon fall asleep. These kinds of herbal teas more often than not have chamomile in them, along with other herbs like spearmint or lemon grass. There have been a few studies on if Chamomile actually helps you fall asleep or relax, or even act as an anti-inflammatory. As I understand, the general consensus right now is that the action of making and drinking hot tea is relaxing and therefore helps you fall asleep. And Chamomile teas don’t have caffeine, so they certainly won’t keep you up. Most importantly (to me), it tastes great with just tiny bit of honey!
The part of the Chamomile plant that is used for tea is the flowers. When picking the flowers to brew, it’s important to remove any green parts (this will make the infusion bitter). Chamomile will keep blooming as long as you are picking the flowers. You can either brew them fresh or let them dry before using them. Drying is pretty simple! You just need a bit of heat and air flow. I think I’ll end up spreading them out on a cloth inside the farm building, but if you have an oven with a drying setting, that will definitely work.
The work on the farm right now is still a lot of weeding, compost spreading, and mulching. It will all be worth it!