Garden Herbal Remedies

 Homegrown herbal remedies are perfect for reviving a tired gardener, and the healing properties of your herbs can really help during stressful times.  As we adjust to ever changing circumstances, your garden can provide a bounty of calming remedies, here are just a few to try taken from a selection of Neal’s Yard Remedies books:

  • Herbal face and body ‘spritz’
  • Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion
  • Headache tonic
  • Calming peppermint and lavender compress

The refreshing mint in a herbal ‘spritz’ is ideal for hot summer days or nights to help cool the skin.  Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion is perfect to sooth the body and mind with its mixture of herbs, petals, and fragrant oils. The headache tonic and compress are both tried and tested for relieving deep tension and migraines.

Herbal face and body ‘spritz’:

Fresh Mint (3x heaped teaspoons)

Fresh Dill (1x heaped teaspoon)

Fresh Parsley (1x heaped teaspoon)

Mineral water (85ml / 2 ¾ fl oz)

  1. Make an infusion by chopping up the herbs and adding them to a cup or teapot, boil some water and pour over the herbs using just enough to cover them. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, preferably covered, to avoid the loss of volatile oils in the steam.
  2. Strain infusion before use, add the mineral water and pour into a sterilised glass bottle with an atomiser spray.
  3. Store in the refrigerator to keep it cool, and spray it in a fine mist over exposed skin on the face or body as required. Use within two days.

(NOTE: to sterilize a glass jar or bottle, wash it and its lid in hot water, drain upside down, and put into a cool oven 140 oC/275 oF for 15 minutes)

Lemon balm and lavender bath infusion:

Makes 530ml (171/2 fl oz)

 Lemon balm (dried, 1x tablespoon)

Rose petals (dried, 1x tablespoon)

Water for the infusion (500ml / 16fl oz)

Lavender essential oil (10 drops)

Mineral salts (1x tablespoon)

The sweet herbal scent of lavender oil is widely used for relaxation, while rose is uplifting and soothing.  Lemon balm, a common garden plant, is wonderfully calming.

  1. Make the infusion by brewing the lemon balm and rose petals for ten minutes in a teapot with 500ml boiled water
  2. In a bowl, add the lavender essential oil to the mineral salts and combine to make a paste
  3. Strain the infusion liquid into a bowl. Add the oil and salt paste to the strained infusion and stir until the salt is dissolved

How to use:

In the bath Add the infusion mixture to the bath immediately and unwind and relax.

As a foot bath Add the infusion to a warm foot bath to soothe tired and aching feet

Headache tonic:

Apple cider vinegar (2x tsp)

Honey (2x tsp to taste)

This natural remedy with all its nutrients will help to ease the symptoms of a headache and support healing.

  1. Fill a small glass with tepid water and add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and two teaspoons of honey to taste.
  2. Stir, and drink to relieve symptoms of a headache.

Calming peppermint and lavender compress:

Makes 1 compress

Almond oil (1x teaspoon)

Peppermint essential oil (3 drops)

Lavender essential oil (2 drops)

The stimulating properties of peppermint have long been used in aromatherapy for treating tension headaches, as it seems to cool and refresh the mind. Lavender is also well known its relaxing qualities, and is well known to help bring relief to headaches caused by anxiety and stress.

  1. Fill a bowl with warm water. Add the essential oils to the almond oil, then add to the water
  2. Soak a flannel in the bowl, then remove and squeeze out the excess water
  3. Place the compress on the forehead. Leave the flannel in a place while it cools to body temperature, repeat the process three times.

Relax and enjoy!

Make your own Garden Teas and ‘Mocktails’

Mid summer marks a time for celebration at the garden, as the flowers bloom and the vegetables grow, we can finally put up our feet and begin to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Usually, we would be planning a party on the plot, but this year we encourage everyone to pick a favourite spot outdoors, set up a picnic and refresh the senses with some home-grown delights.

Here we have listed some uplifting and calming teas made from our very own flowers and herbs, and suggested some refreshing ‘mocktails’ to mix, complete with edible flower ice cubes to bring some cheer to your glass.

Home Grown Mint Mojito Mocktail



 Generally, when making herbal teas, it is necessary to prepare your tea mixes in advance by harvesting and drying your herbs, ideally in a dehydrating machine overnight, or by hanging them upside down in bunches somewhere warm until they are completely dry (make sure they don’t go ‘musty’ in the middle).

When dry, crunch leaves such as nettles and lemon balm into smaller tea leaves and store them in airtight jars mixed with your selected flowers and peels. Then label and enjoy your mid summer flavours late into the year.

As a rule, when adding your tea mix to the teapot, use one teaspoon per person and ‘one for the pot’. Then add your boiling water and leave to ‘steep’ for five minutes. Some pots have a built in vessel for holding the tea leaves in place when pouring, or you can use a separate strainer to catch the leaves and prevent them from falling into the cup.

A Moroccan teapot is designed so that you can put whole springs of mint leaves directly into the pot, and they will not make their way down the spout.  It’s best to make mint tea with fresh leaves rather than dried, for an extra fresh flavour.  Add honey to sweeten either to your pot or cup directly.

If you don’t have a teapot, use an individual tea strainer submerged into your cup of hot water. Leave to steep and remove before drinking, then relax and enjoy the taste of your homegrown teas whilst reaping the benefits of their healing properties.

Mint and Honey Tea

You will need:

Mint – fresh from the garden

Honey – local organic honey is the best

This is such a simple and delicious blend, just pick the top 5 leaves from your fresh mint plant and add a handful to your pot.  Steep for 5 minutes and add 1 teaspoon of honey to your cup to taste. There are many varieties of mint to try, from sweet mint to spearmint flavour, so have fun with experimenting with what works for you.

Lemon Balm and Grapefruit Tea

You will need:

 Lemon balm (a few large handfuls, pre-dried)

Grapefruit rind (1x grapefruit rind grated and pre-dried)

Ginger (1x teaspoon, freshly grated, added to cup to taste)


To make a brew of lemon balm, grapefruit (peel) and fresh ginger tea, mix your dried ingredients together and store; when ready add I teaspoon per person to your pot plus one teaspoon for the pot, add your boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes, pour, and add approximately 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger direct to your cup to taste. Stir and enjoy.

Chamomile and Lavender Tea

You will need:

Chamomile flowers (handful of heads – pre-dried)

Lavender flowers (handful of flowers – pre-dried)

To make a Chamomile and Lavender infusion from your dried flower heads, just add a teaspoon of chamomile flowers into your strainer, with half a teaspoon of lavender flowers and leave to steep in your cup for 5 minutes. Top up with a bit more hot water and enjoy this soothing blend.

Healing benefits of your tea blends:

Lemon balm – great for anxiety and insomnia, a digestive also, perfect for a bedtime brew.  Lemon balm is also in lots of natural anti depressants so helpful during bouts of anxiety.

 Grapefruit – appetite stimulant, great for removing fatty deposits, helps to regulate the appetite so is helpful for people dealing with weight issues.  Grapefruit is also a detoxifier, so good for a hangover, and regulates sleep hence used by people who travel a lot.  It also helps to focus and clear the mind, so great during exam time.

 Ginger – good for nausea and sickness, generates heat in the body, great for people who do too much; a cup of ginger tea is stimulating yet grounding, leaving you active without the need for caffeine. It is also excellent for muscle cramps, post exercise recovery, and during menstruation.

Mint – stimulating and refreshing, helps to boost your metabolism and aids digestion.  Mint is anti-inflammatory and helps open the airways, so great for asthma sufferers and for general cough and cold remedies.

 Honey – natural antiseptic, antihistamine, and general all round brilliant healing super-food. Put direct onto skin for cuts and boils, it is also an antidote for bee stings (after removing the sting). Great for gardeners!

 Chamomile – sedative, relaxing, and useful for sleep remedies because of its calming effect. It is soothing to the skin and can be used as a compress on scalds.  It’s also good for the digestive system and helps relax the stomach.

 Lavender – calming, good for sleep, a sedative for the nervous system, perfect for relieving worry, stress, and migraines. Use in combination with lavender flowers mixed with rice in an eye bag placed over the eyes at night to encourage relaxation and a good nights sleep.



 Ice cube tray preparation:

Prepare ice cubes by placing edible flowers from the garden into ice cube trays.  Make sure there are no pests on your petals or flower heads and be sure to use plants you know are safe to eat and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.

Alternatives to flowers are small slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or frozen berries, which are available all year round from the shops.  Arrange a selection of colourful flowers, fruits and berries into your tray, add water and freeze.

If using mint, pick the tiny top three mint leaves fresh from a spring of growing mint to add a refreshing zing to your cubes. Add water to your tray and place in the freezer.

Virgin Mojito

You will need:

Mint (handful of sweet mint per serving, third of your glass)

Limes (1x per serving cut into wedges)

Cucumber (chopped finely, with mint leaves, frozen in ice cubes)

Golden caster sugar (1x teaspoon per serving)

Sparkling Water (instead of rum and soda water)

Pestle and mortar

Tall glass

Spoon for stirring

Prepare ice cubes by finely chopping cucumber and mint leaves together, then add a teaspoon of your mix to each ice cube tray compartment, topping up with water.  Place in the freezer until you are ready to mix your ‘mocktail’.

To make your virgin mojito, place half of your mint in a pestle and mortar, and put the remaining sprigs in a tall glass.  Cut your lime into four wedges and squeeze three into your pestle and mortar.  Muddle the mint, lime, and sugar together (crushing with the pestle), pour all the mint and liquid into your glass.

Add the used lime wedges to your glass (for extra flavour), then add your ice cubes and top up with your sparkling water, giving the mix a stir.  Place you remaining wedge of lime onto your glass rim for decoration and enjoy your refreshing and delicious mojito ‘mocktail’!


Maiden Moon Walk

You will need:

Grapefruit (one slice for decoration on glass)

Grapefruit juice (a dash per serving, or freshly squeezed)

Sparkling water (instead of Prosecco)

Ginger (grated – a teaspoon)

Flower ice cubes (violas, rose bud, pansies, borage flowers)

When ready to make your Maiden Moon Walk, choose a pretty cocktail glass and slice your grapefruit in half.  Squeeze one half of your grapefruit into your glass filling it a quarter full (you can use bottled grapefruit too).  Take a slice from your remaining half grapefruit and save for decoration.

Grate a teaspoons’ worth of fresh ginger into your glass.  Add a teaspoon of sugar and mix, then drop in your ice cubes, place the slice of grapefruit on the rim of your glass like a giant moon decoration, and relax and enjoy your lunar landing!


More options:

 Another simple and refreshing drink to serve at any party on the plot is fresh dill in a jug of water.  Add a couple of slices of lemon, and some pretty ice cubes you prepared earlier (lemon and lime works well) and off you go. Your visitors will love the taste of summer in a glass!

Healing benefits of your ‘mocktail’ mixes:

Mint – stimulating and refreshing, helps to boost your metabolism and aids digestion.  Mint is anti-inflammatory and helps open the airways, so great for asthma sufferers and for general cough and cold remedies.

Lemon and Lime – both of these are great immunity boosting citrus fruits, so again fabulous for staving off coughs and colds.

Grapefruit – appetite stimulant, great for removing fatty deposits, helps to regulate the appetite so is helpful for people dealing with weight issues.  Grapefruit is also a detoxifier, so good for a hangover, it also regulates sleep hence used by people who travel a lot.  It also helps to focus and clear the mind, so great during exam time.

 Ginger – good for nausea and sickness, generates heat in the body, good for people who do too much; a cup of ginger tea is stimulating yet grounding, leaving you active without the need for caffeine. It is also great for muscle cramps, post exercise recovery, and during menstruation.

 Dill – is great for digestion, including loss of appetite, and good for treatment of coughs and colds, cramps, and sleep disorders amongst other things, so and all round fabulous plant, great with fish dishes too.


How to make recycled planters from household objects

During any extended periods of time at home, it’s always good to surround yourself with plant life.  A sunflower growing at the bottom of the garden can bring such joy, and nurturing aromatic and tasty herbs on your windowsill can bring even more satisfaction. All you need is a pack of seeds and a handful of compost and off you go! No outside space, or stuck without a pot? Here’s how to convert some household objects into planters without the hassle or expense of visiting the shops.

Newspaper Pots

 You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Tin can
  • Compost
  • Seeds

Making paper pots out of newspapers is fun and a great way to recycle.  Once the pots are made, you can plant them up and wait for your produce to grow, place the pots directly into the ground without having to disturb your plants. Easy, so lets give it a try.

  • Find an old newspaper and take one sheet out
  • Fold length ways so you have a long strip of newspaper
  • Take a recycled tin can (with lid removed) and place the solid end along the folded edge of the newspaper
  • Wrap the paper loosely around the tin and roll around until you have a tube around the tin
  • Fold one edge of the paper into the hole of the tin
  • Remove the tin from its sleeve
  • Put the tin, flat end first, back into the paper pot and squish the paper flat inside the pot
  • Ta da! Your pot is ready to fill with compost
  • Water your pot, then plant up with seed (sunflowers or beans are good) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • Water again and place in a warm sunny spot, keep moist
  • When your plants have grown and are ready to plant outside, place the entire pot into the soil, the paper will break down and your plants will grow happily out of the pot

Fabric Tin Can Planters

You will need:

  • Tin cans
  • Hammer & Nail
  • Doubled sided sticky tape
  • Recycled fabric (in strips)
  • Scissors
  • Compost & Seeds (seasonal herbs or bulbs)

Brighten up any windowsill with these easy to make recycled fabric tin planters.  Perfect for growing herbs or spring bulbs in on a budget and great for the environment too.

  • Wash out your used tin cans, remove any paper labels and bang two or three drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail (on a work surface like a chopping board).
  • Cut some old fabric into strips about 2cm thick and long enough to wrap around your tin. They don’t have to be neat.
  • Stick a strip of double sided sticky tape around the tin at the bottom of your tin can, cut to make a sticky ring all around.
  • Add one strip of fabric on top of the tape, cut off any excess fabric so each end meets.
  • Add another layer of sticky tape above your fabric and overlay another strip of fabric in another colour for contrast, trim and make sure you don’t leave a gap between the first and second fabric strip, each strip should overlap the one before.
  • Repeat the process all the way up the tin until you reach the top, trim any excess fabric around the top edge, or fold the fabric over the top if the edge is sharp, being careful to stick it down with a layer of tape first.
  • Add decorations to finish your multi fabric masterpiece! Wrap string around it and tie in a bow, add ribbon or glue on buttons, let your creativity shine.
  • Now your planter is ready to plant; add seed compost to the tin, water, then sprinkle your herb seeds, or plant a Spring bulb following the packet guidelines. Cover with another layer of compost, water again and keep in a warm sunny spot watering regularly. Then see your creation come to life!

Recycled Milk Bottle 5x Ways

You will need:

  • Plastic Milk Bottles (x5)
  • Craft Knife
  • Hammer & Nail (or sharp pointed object like a scewer)
  • Compost
  • Seeds – bird seeds and herb seeds to plant
  • Marker pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • String

Making a new use for any object is fun, but making five uses out of your used plastic milk bottles is incredible!

  1. Bird feeder
  • Draw a large circle on the bottle to make a hole to let birds inside to feed on the seed (at least 2 cm from the bottom)
  • Carefully cut the hole out using a craft knife
  • Screw a smaller hole underneath the big hole
  • Insert a kebab stick into the small hole to act as a perch for the birds to land on
  • Screw a hole through the lid of the bottle, feed an arms length of string through the hole, and tie several knots in the end that screws inside the bottle
  • Loop the other end of string and tie so you have a loop you can hang on a tree branch or hook outside
  • Screw the lid on the bottle
  • Fill the base with birdseed, its ready to go!
  1. Sprinkling watering bottle
  • Remove the lid from your bottle and place over something soft like a cushion, screw side up (to ensure a good flow)
  • With a screw or hammer and nail, make several small holes in the lid for the water to sprinkle out
  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Screw the lid back on and you have a practical sprinkling watering bottle to place near your plants, this is especially good for seedlings and your plants that need delicate watering
  1. Scoop
  • Place your water bottle on its side with the handle facing up
  • Draw a scoop shape around the bottle starting from the top edge of the bottle, half way along, down in a rainbow shaped arch to the bottom edge of the bottle at the base
  • Cut along the top edge to meet each scoop shaped arch
  • Job done, you have a scoop perfect for filling your pots from the compost bag
  1. Plant labels
  • With any spare plastic you have, utilise for plant labels by cutting into strips about 1cm wide by 8cm long (finger size)
  • Trim one edge to a point and set aside for your planting projects
  • Use a marker pen to label your pots so the plant names do not wash off when watering
  • You have a invaluable stash of plant labels at your fingertips!
  1. Self-draining planter
  • Cut a milk bottle around its centre in half carefully using a craft knife
  • Remove the lid from the bottle and turn the milk bottle top half upside down
  • Place the top half of the bottle back into the bottom half of the bottle, so the bottle ‘mouth’ is face down at the bottle base
  • You are ready to fill the container with compost and plant some seeds! When you water, the water will collect in the base and your plant will be happy and stay moist

Good luck with making these, and send some lovely photos to

All the best,

Emily Hill

KentCOG Coordinator


How to do ecotherapy at home

Ecotherapy is essentially all about improving your mental and physical wellbeing by doing activities outdoors in nature, but what happens when your time outside is limited, or you can’t access green spaces easily?  In these difficult times, where social distancing and staying at home is becoming the new normal, let’s take a look at what can be done to top up our daily dose of green care.

Here at KentCOG even though volunteers are unable to get to the community garden to work in nature, every individual can still experience nature and the positive effects it has on wellbeing and physical health from home, and so can you.  Here’s how, with some of my favourite suggestions from Mind’s Making sense of ecotherapy resource, available online at

Bring nature into your home environment

  • Collect natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds and anything else that you like to decorate your home and use in art projects.
  • Create a comfortable space to sit in in your home where you can look out over a view of the sky or a tree.
  • Grow plants on your windowsills.

  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature and set them as your phone and computer backgrounds.
  • Try to do more everyday activity in front of a window so that you can see the sky (for example ironing clothes, chopping vegetables, brushing your teeth, drying dishes or daily exercises).
  • Download some recordings of your favourite natural sounds such as birdsong or waves.

Try horticulture at home

  • Create a growing space at home. If you don’t have a garden invest in a window box or plant pot and plant some salad leaves or herbs – even keeping a small container on your windowsill can help.

  • If you have flower beds try planting some vegetables amongst the flowers. Many varieties of vegetables have attractive flowers for part of the year and might even add to your display.
  • Put your name down for an allotment or consider sharing one.
  • Join a local community food growing project if there is one in your area.
  • Go fruit picking in the countryside, or find out about urban food foraging and get some tasty food for free.  For example, in late summer and early autumn you might find lots of wild blackberry bushes growing in urban spaces, and some trees you walk by every day on your street might actually be apple or cherry.

Get close to animals

  • Go for walks in the countryside by rivers, fields and trees, and look out for wildlife. If you don’t live near open countryside, look out for urban wildlife in your local park, such as squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds.

  • Go birdwatching by yourself.
  • Hang a bird feeder outside one of your windows. If you have the space you could build a small roosting box on a tree or under a windowsill so that you can watch baby sparrows or blue tits when they leave the nest. The RSPB provides more information on feeding and sheltering birds.
  • Think about whether owning a pet would be the right thing for you. Many people find caring for a pet every day brings lots of benefits, but you need to be sure your home environment and personal circumstances would be the right thing for the animal as well as for you. If you don’t own your home, it’s also important to check if you’re allowed pets.

Do your bit for the Environment

  • Go on a litter picking walk in the park or on the beach.
  • Plant something outside the front of your home so that everybody who walks by can enjoy it.
  • Plant flowers for the bees and berry bushes for the birds in your garden.
  • Build an animal habitat – put up a bird box, create a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have enough space. Even a small pond can offer a home to creatures, such as newts and pond skaters.

Do more activities outdoors

  • Build a ten minute walk into your day, see if you can plan the route so that you take in a park or river.
  • If you have a garden create a space in it that you enjoy sitting in, have a picnic with home grown produce.
  • Sit under a tree in silence for a while, lean back against it and feel it supporting you.
  • Give yourself a sensory outdoor workout – find things to look at, listen to, taste, smell and touch. For inspiration visit the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website (

Ecotherapy improves mental health, physical health, develops social life, builds confidence, strengthens your connection with nature and helps you practise mindfulness.  There are many ways to get involved and more information and support available at You can also join in a weekly zoom meeting on Green Spaces KentCOG 2-3pm from my home and see many of these ideas being put into practice. Spaces are limited, to book email

Take care.

Emily Hill – KentCOG Coordinator

University of Kent welcome Mind to the Oasis Garden

Adapted from press release:

Designed to become a sustainability hub centered on growing food, the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a collaborative outdoor space for staff and students and members of the local community to use for a range of activities.  The garden provides a space for relaxation and learning new skills, as well as growing fruit and vegetables throughout the seasons. The garden is now also home to a new initiative to develop wellbeing and green care.

KentCOG is being developed by the University’s Student Wellbeing team with new partners, East Kent Mind. East Kent Mind will provide opportunities to take part in sessions, peer support activities and workshops with an aim to support and improve mental health and wellbeing. 

The garden is located along the Crab and Winkle pathway to the far east of the Canterbury Campus past the Park Wood accommodation.  Helping with its design – with an emphasis on accessibility- is Gardeners’ World local expert Mark Lane.  Other organisations actively involved with the garden include the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers group and Kent Union.

Activities in the garden also fit in with several of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals that the University has pledged to follow.

KentCOG would love to hear from any members of the public with skills in gardening, foraging, design, art, permaculture, and mental health who are interested in helping develop the garden.

Email us now at or or come and visit us at the garden on Wednesdays between 10am – 2pm