So around here we have not officially kicked old man winter out for the year. However warmer days are phasing in and out, birds are chirping, nests are being built, and the firsts of my garden plants are starting to show growth. As spring starts knocking on the door, you may be thinking about gardening. Planning out what exactly you want to do and when you will start, I know I am. When it comes to gardening I want to get the biggest bang for my buck, because even though I am super over excited when spring comes I also start to fizzle and my desire starts to fade come August. So when I plant I want to make sure I have planted as much multi-purpose, garden supercharging, plants as possible. To me that means planting multi-purpose garden plants.
Ok so I don’t really know if they are “classified” as multi-purpose, that’s the way I think of them. Can they be eaten? Can they be medicinal? Can they benefit other plants? Can they stop garden bugs and pests from destroying my hard work? So for me if I can grow one thing that serves many purposes it makes gardening a little easier.
Early in my gardening endeavors I wanted to learn medicinal plants as well as companion planting. So this for me was a focus from very early on. I am drawn to herbal plants and want to learn as much as I can about using nature to heal my family and I also don’t have time with 4 kids, homeschooling, dozens of animals and a whole menagerie of other chaos to sit and pick hundreds of bugs off my plants. So multi-purpose plants get me excited for gardening!
So let’s talk multi-purpose plants
I have a list of go-to plants that are my favorites, and they are my favorites because they make life of a gardener easier, and who can’t use that?
Seriously, I love this stuff. I want this one to someday border every single garden or growing space I have. I seed started a whole big tray very early this year so I can transplant and get a whole bunch of yarrow established and doing all the hard work for me year after year.
- perennial- plant once and done, what can be better than that!
- repels a whole mess of bugs (including aphids, and they can be real boogers!)
- medicinal- can help with a large variety of ailments including reducing fevers, stop hemorrhage, lower blood pressure, help with symptoms of hay fever, strengthen varicose veins.
- increase fragrance and oils of aromatic herbs with companion planting
This one may not cover such a broad range of benefits like yarrow, however what it does do makes it totally worth planting. Plus calendula looks beautiful. So beautiful, strong and helpful I’m sold! I’ll plant a whole mess of these.
- amazing tomato companion plant, tomato thrives when calendula is near
- general pest deterrent
- medicinal- nothing better for healing skin issues than calendula
In fact calendula is so helpful with so much that I make sure I plant some every year just for skin issues or healing needs just for that alone. I absolutely must have my own home made calendula oil on hand at all time. Burns, bruises, cuts, scrapes, injuries, DIY all-purpose Healing Salve and carrier oil, calendula-infused oil is my number one choice to keep on hand in the home-made medicinal herbs cabinet.
Thyme in itself is really an amazing plant, In fact I did a whole in dept look at just thyme and what makes it so great check that out here. It has amazing health properties, but its also a superhero in the garden keeping some of the most frustrating pests at bay.
- Medicinal- immune boosting, naturally anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and anti-toxic. A stimulant to the circulatory system and helpful in taking on just about any sickness.
- Garden pest deterrent, especially helpful with cabbage worms that like plants of the cruciferous family.
- Small flowers also attract bees that are helpful for pollination of all plants, so everything thrives more.
Aside from being just about the easiest plant ever to grow (I mean, seriously easy). This plant is amazing, has many benefits and takes almost no work, that is my kind of plant.
- animal deterrent- plants around borders inside or even outside of a garden to keep rabbits, raccoons, deer (or for us goats) away. This plant leaves and stems have sticker like texture and animals avoid it.
- companion plant for tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries and squash.
- deterrent to tomato horn worm and cabbage moths
- flowers are edible and great added to salads
- attracts bees and other pollinators helping all your garden plants thrive
Comfrey to me is a lot like calendula as far as I love it for its medicinal purposes. I infuse oils in comfrey as well, and keep it on hand, at all times. Comfrey which is also known as knitbone, due to the facts it basically knits, bones, tendons and ligaments back together after bruises, sprains, fractures and broken bones. However comfrey is all of its medicinal glory doesn’t stop there, it’s also amazing for the garden and or soil
- Perennial- plant once and done! (Check your zone super cold regions may have to replant)
- Nutrient accumulator
- Great for compost or compost tea giving plants extra nitrogen
- can be added to animal feed (research your animals first)
- medicinal- helps with pain and inflammation. High in nutrients to heal bruises, sprains, ligaments, tendons and bones. Also know for skin, bronchial and some digestive issues.
- Attracts bees- help feed the bees help pollination for your garden
This one is no stranger right. Super easy to grow, heck garlic will even try growing in my fridge! However there is no need to say it we all know it but this is one amazing power packed plant, more accurately a veggie than and herb. However its strength and ability at healing the body often has herbalist’s including it in the medicinal herbal category.
- easy to grow just about nothing bothers it
- great companion plant for just about everything except beans and peas
- general pest deterrent both mammals and insects do no like the smell
- known as a medicinal plant, very immune boosting and help everything from colds, flu, infection, digestion, ear infection (check out my post on 3 natural ear infection remedies)
Again a not a surprise. We or (I) use onion in just about everything, ask my kids ( they think I’m over the top with onion). However it’s easy to grow, great for you and serves so many extra purposes in the garden why not.
- easy to grow and again nothing really wants to bother it
- general companion plant, plant near almost anything except peas and beans
- general pest deterrent both mammals and insects try to avoid the strong smell
- medicinal detoxifying, alkaline, antibiotic (great for fire cider)
Beautiful, fragrant And packed full of amazing benefits for both the garden and health! Many areas Rosemary can only thrives if brought inside for the winter (us included). Many varieties do not tolerate cold temperatures. Check your zone and variety to be sure.
- Perennial in zones 7-10
- great for eating and adding flavor to many dishes
- attracts bees so very helpful for the oh so important pollination
- medicinal great for the brain and amazingly fast at kicking most headaches and even migraines, also used for treating circulation, digestive, arthritic and inflammation issues. That is not all, so much that Rosemary is known for healing I can not fit it all right here!
So maybe herb, vegetable or plant. I am usually looking for ways to lighten the load of a homestead lifestyle. Here is my little list of supercharging multi-purpose garden plants. Plants that will help make the rest of everything we do a breeze, and really that all part of trying to build with a permaculture system in mind. We help nature, nature helps us. For us food is medicine and medicine is food. So as we establish this still new to us homestead, we try our best to build it up in a way that when we take care of it, it helps to take care of us. Gardening was never meant to be impossible, just a balancing act like most things in life. So whether gardening for fruits or vegetables, this little list helps everything we are trying to grow to thrive (with less work on our part).
And yes there are many, many other plants that are amazingly helpful or medicinal, and we do grow a lot more than this. However when I plan my garden I try to keep all the multi-purpose plants in the front of my mind. Many of these are first to be planted, and many will not need anymore planting seeds after a few years and that will lighten the load again♡♡♡
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