Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Cupboard Full of Good Intentions

Last year was my first year’s journey as a herbal apprentice. During this time I experienced growing herbs and monitoring plant growth, harvesting herbs, tasting herbs and making many herbal preparations. Over Christmas I took out all of the contents of my herb cupboard (which was so full jars were falling out when I opened the door) and took the time to make an inventory and wasn’t surprised to find nearly 200 jars and bottles.


I realised that I have only been using a fraction of what is in there and that was mainly to make up teas from old favourites such as lemon balm, catnip and lavender. I often take these to work for use with my tea ball.

I decided there were five main reasons why I haven’t been using other herbs or products:

  • I had forgotten I had it;

  • I couldn’t easily access it;

  • I couldn’t remember what it was used for;

  • When I was ill I couldn’t be bothered to make something up;

  • I hadn’t found a need for it.

The annoying thing is I have been very run-down over winter, with no energy and struggling to keep going. I seem to get lots of days where I feel like I am “coming down with something” and I also suffer with indigestion. I have this marvellous cupboard full of solutions which I haven’t been using.

Therefore my mission throughout April and May has been to focus less on making products and more on improving my general health. First job was to rearrange the kitchen and create a space to put a few things I needed easy access to. I also swapped my spice rack round so culinary herbs that are hardly used are relegated to the cupboard and frequently used medicinal herbs have their own space. I can just top up the jars once every week or so and avoid the pain of a daily visit to the cupboard.

I am taking Ashwagandha tincture for energy and overall health, fire cider vinegar as a preventative and digestive bitters for obvious reasons. After 6 weeks I am starting to feel slightly improved with more energy and less indigestion. However this is only part of my journey and I am looking forward to working with more jars and bottles in the cupboard.

Lessons I have learned to avoid a cluttered cupboard full of unused herbs

  • I keep smaller jars of frequently used herbs to hand in the spice rack;

  • I reguarly go through my cupboard and transfer half empty jars to clean-dry, smaller jars. This helps massively on reducing storage as well as providing an opportunity to check contents and discard where necessary;

  • to make it easier to find things I label the lids as well as the jars;

  • be realistic about what I harvest. Just because I have lots of sage and rosemary which needs pruning I don’t have to dry it all. I am going to spend more time deciding what I would like to work with and/or are likely to need and focus on getting those and if I really am not going to use something I won’t harvest it;

  • find uses for some of the products I haven’t yet used such as turning oils into salves and making mojo bags, scented sachets, incense etc;

  • only make tinctures, oils and vinegars where I think I will definitely use them.