Designing a Medicinal Guild

| 3/24/2016 3:04:00 PM

Tags: trees, medicinal plants, herb garden, garden planning, Sean and Monica Mitzel, Idaho,

Last weekend I spent an afternoon studying different bushes, trees, and herbaceous plants in order to design the newest guild on our Permafarm. This one will be positioned in the front of our home creating a peaceful and beautiful landscape to enjoy while sipping freshly brewed mint tea on our porch (and keeping the goats and free-range chickens at bay with the surrounding fence)!

Long before we began our study of permaculture we were utilizing herbal medicine. I spent many years studying different herbs and preparations; and we enjoyed the various teas and products we created with them. Now that we live on our Permafarm, it seemed natural to marry our two passions together in what is called a “guild” (for more information on creating guilds, see Gaia's Garden). I am christening this particular guild our “Medicinal Guild”.

Honestly, I took longer than necessary to design it, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it was just plain fun. Planning comes naturally to me; the execution of the design is always a little more cumbersome and physically demanding so I rather enjoy the pen and paper portion of the project.

As I began to work on the plan, I commenced by considering my end goals. For me, I was aiming for both beauty, to include many colors, along with utility (both medicinal and improving the soil). Additionally, I was looking to attract a variety of pollinators. The last thing I took into consideration was whether to choose annuals or perennials.

I like to focus on perennials, which eases up the required labor with each subsequent year – another advantage to employing permaculture principles. In our zone some perennials don’t always winter over very well, so a few of the herbs I chose may become annuals; I will allow those to reseed themselves, I’ll know how well this plan works out next year.

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