Colorado had a long cold winter with lots of snow and a good amount of rain in April. With temperatures gradually warming the gardens should do well this summer as long as we can keep them watered during the heat of summer. Chives, clary sage, mint, parsley as well as hops and southernwood are all growing well so far.

Over the winter I have gone over what herbs I used the most of and what I need more of. This summer I will find more room for calendula. I probably use calendula more than any other herb in my products. It is high in carotenoids which help skin cells grow to promote wound healing and help replenish epithelial cells. This is always important but becomes more so as we age. I’ll need more calendula for my own products as well as with hopes of selling calendula extracts this summer. I will also be offering green tea extracts, rosemary extracts, plantain, red clover and raspberry extracts for those interested in using them in products. They are all very good herbs for skin care.

Mint is also low but I know that just being one year older will make a big difference in how abundant their stems are. I make a mint infused oil to use in many of my products as mint helps to soften the skin and leaves a nice feel. I’ll be putting in more lavender of course, probably one to two more rows and then have to decide if I want to dig up pasture for additional lavender. Perhaps another rose bush, but again, with one more year’s growth my roses should be flourishing this summer. I choose my roses based on having high fragrance. I use ground rose petals in soap, salt scrub and facial steams and would like to have enough to distill for the aromatic water. I also make infused oil from rose petals that I think will be an ingredient in my olive oil cleanser.

Much of my time right now is taken up in getting products ready for the Farmers Market. Summer of course is busy for all gardeners and sometimes its hard to find enough time for anything else. Having a high number of products at the beginning of the summer makes it easier to fit in time for weeding, watering, planting, harvesting and drying. I may have to look for help this summer in the form of an apprentice who will trade work for learning experience. If you are interested or know someone who is please point them in my direction.

Besides planning for this year’s plantings I like to go through what dried herbs I have from last year and use up what I have leftover. One fun way to use up these herbs is to do a steam facial. Almost any herbs will work for this but rose, lavender, fennel and mint are especially good for a steam facial. Put a handful of dried herbs in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Hold your head over the bowl with a towel over your head to help hold in the steam. Let the steam rise to your skin to hydrate, clean your pores and relax your body. What herbs do you have to use up before you harvest this summer?