Herbs are a fantastic thing to use around our house and homestead. Their uses are myriad and their benefits more than equal their uses. Most people are familiar with the culinary uses of herbs, and some are even familiar with their medicinal uses; but not many know how to use the herbs they grow in their garden to benefit their homestead and animals. This post will show you how.
There are many effective herbs we can use which will save us and our animals from unneeded exposure to nasty chemicals. While many herbs can be used for many purposes, here is my list of 5 herbs that are simple and effective to use to repel insects, disinfect and deodorize, or keep our animals healthy.
Herbs to Use Around the House and Homestead
Garlic (Allium Sativum)
Garlic has long been used as a natural antibiotic by those who have known about this its special property. Garlic can be used as a disease prevention in humans and animals, and its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties make it a useful addition to one’s diet, and homestead. I use a crushed garlic clove in my animals’ water dispensers along with a small dose of apple cider vinegar to boost their immune system. I occasionally throw garlic husks and scraps into the hutch tray and chicken coop to keep flies away.
A couple more ideas for using garlic on your homestead include interplanting garlic with your vegetables to control aphids and mites, and using a garlic-based oil to control mosquito larvae in ponds and other places where water might stagnate enough for the mosquitoes to do their business.
Make Your Own Garlic Based Oil
adapted from the book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte
Chop 3-4 oz of garlic and soak in 2 Tbsp mineral oil* for one day. Add 1 pint of water mixed with one tsp of fish emulsion has been dissolved. Strain the liquid and store in a mason jar.
To use: dilute by using 1 part of your mixture with 20 parts of water. Use this spray against your worst insect pests.
*It is possible that you could substitute olive oil in replacement of the mineral oil, which would probably be more prudent if your animals could come in contact with this oil when sprayed outdoors.
More ideas and resources for using garlic around the homestead:
Natural Pest Control – Safe for Chickens, Other Pets, and People by Fresh Eggs Daily
DIY Chardonnay Mango Wine Bottle Fly Catcher by Fresh Eggs Daily
Homemade Garlic Spray: A Non-Toxic Insecticide by A Happy Healthnut
DIY Fly Strips + More Ways to Control Flies in your Coop and Run NATURALLY by Fresh Eggs Daily
My post on Garlic: A Natural Superfood
Rosemary (Rosemarinus Officinalis)
Beautiful, aromatic rosemary is a wonderful plant to grow in your herb garden. Aside from the fantastic culinary puses of this pungent herb, it’s has an antiseptic, pain relieving and soothing properties that make rosemary a wonderful choice for the homestead.
Rosemary given periodically is said to relieve depression in rabbits. It has also been quite effective in repelling flies when hung in bunches in our barn area. Try adding rosemary to the hutch tray and coop if flies are especially bothersome.
According to Wellness Mama in her post Herbal Uses and Benefits of Rosemary Leaf, this aromatic herb can be used as a homemade air freshener, or even to ward off mice, rats and moquitoes!
More ideas and resources for using rosemary around the homestead:
How to Make Four Thieves Herbal Vinegar by Just So (great for the coop or hutch, or cleaning the home–also includes lavender and mint!)
Moisturizing Bug Repellent Lotion Bars by Wellness Mama
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Calendula is one of my favorite flowers because of its beautiful colors and its medicinal qualities. It is one that I use most frequently, and the lovely healing salve that I make from it has been my healthy replacement for store-bought antibiotic ointment.
Calendula is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic (arrests hemorrhage), vermifuge (repels intestinal worms), amongst many other properties. Use calendula salve for minor cuts and abrasions on yourself or your animals, as it can soothe inflamed tissues and bring healing, stop bleeding, and aid in healing a mild wound. Calendula wash (recipe below) can also be used on mild cuts and abrasions, and as an eye wash for inflamed and infected eyes or ears. Give a calendula infusion to ward off intestinal worms in your animals.
Easy and Effective Calendula Wash
Put a couple of teaspoons of calendula petals in an infuser and pour a cup of boiling water over it. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Pour into a squeeze bottle and use to wash minor wounds.
Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Lovely-smelling lavender packs a punch when it comes to useful properties. Antibacterial, antibiotic, antiviral, antiseptic, deodorizing, stress-relieving, insect-repelling and safe to use on and around pets all make lavender the herb of choice to have on your homestead if you decide to grow no other herbs.
Add lavender to your rabbit hutch to keep flies away from your buns. Since they aren’t known to really love the flavor, your mini-swag of lavender will last much longer than rosemary! The aroma will also have a calming effect on your rabbits and chickens if hung up or grown nearby.
More ideas and resources for using lavender around the homestead:
Simple Herbs for a Stressed Out Rabbit by Natural Rabbit Care
Reducing Chicken Stress with Herbs by Sunny Simple Life
Lavender Infused Vinegar by My Healthy Green Family (great for cleaning the home or disinfecting the coop and hutch)
Lavender-Salt Foot Scrub by Jar O Honey
Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
Mint is an all-around fantastic herb as it is safe for pets and humans. Its anti-parasitic, insecticide, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, sedative properties make it a jack-of-all-trades on the homestead.
Try adding mint leaves to your chicken coop and nesting boxes to keep bugs away from your girls. Use mint leaves as a mulch around tomatoes or cabbage to keep insects from attacking your plants. Place mint sprigs in plants or behind appliances to repel ants. Grow mint in your garden to attract beneficial insects (watch out–it’s invasive!). Apply mint tea to soothe a sunburn after a day of gardening.
Sources and Further Reading:
Rabbit Safe Herbs by Kanin.org
Calendula – VCA Animal Hospitals
Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte
Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchason N.D.
Reader’s Digest Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally by Lisa Steele
Country Wisdom and Know How (Storey Publishing)
This post is part of the 30 Day Natural Living Challenge that is being hosted at A Blossoming Life.
Please accept this invitation to other posts in this series:
If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of herbs, click over to the Herbal Academy of New England and sign up for their Intermediate Herbal Course (click course photo below). It’s been fabulous for me, and I’ve learned quite a lot in the past months. I highly recommend it! Also, I’d like to invite you to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any of my new Herbal Primer series, where I will be sharing all about the herbs, and recipes you can make with them.
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