Course 12 | Backyard Gardening and Cultivation

Learn all you need to grow a medicinal herb garden. These lessons include garden planning, growing, propagation, maintenance, and herb harvesting, drying, and storage.


Length: 4.5 hours

Instructor: Lindsay Hounslow | Medical Herbalist, Organic Master Gardener

This course is only available with the following program:

  • Community Herbalist Online

    Full Certificate Program

    view course

Meet your course instructor

Lindsay Hounslow | Medical Herbalist, Organic Master Gardener

Lindsay’s interest in plants was cultivated in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. During 10 years of work as a naturalist guide, Lindsay gained a deep appreciation for ecology and her clinical practice integrates her respect for the profound nature of connection within our web of life. She has a deep love for plants and a passion to increase the availability of safe, effective medicines in a form that nurtures our shared spiritual and ecological health. After studies in geography, nutrition, and yoga, and mentorship in energy work, shamanism, organic gardening, and herbal wildcrafting, she dedicated herself to herbal studies and was one of PRC’s first Diploma of Phytotherapy graduates. She is a professional member of the Canadian Herbalist Association of BC and is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations. She practices herbalism in her home community of Fernwood, Victoria and is a happy gardener, yogi, and mother.

Course description

Growing your own medicinal herbs is one of the most rewarding ways to work with herbs and it is an empowering way to engage deeply with your own healing process. This course gives you the knowledge and skills to develop your herbal garden, regardless of whether you are starting at the beginning or looking to expand on your abilities as a herb gardener. After completing this course you will be able to plan and create a garden, select the best plants for your garden, assess and improve soil health, propagate new plants by various techniques, and harvest and dry medicinal plants.

 This course is grounded in the understanding that, as humans, we are part of an ecological web. We discuss various relationships within the garden – including human-plant relationships and the relationships between plants and soil-based organisms. The tools offered are based on organic methods and informed by the principles and ethics of permaculture, which are explained in our discussion on garden design. 

You are shown how to assess your potential garden space and design and plan your herb garden. We discuss considerations for establishing a garden and choosing materials to use for building garden beds and for pathways. In order to create a healthy organic garden, we build your knowledge of soil including the physical and biological aspects of soil health. We discuss soil in-depth and learn about soil testing, including skills you can use at home, as well as soil amendments, mulching, and how to compost effectively.

We explore plant life cycles and how to research for plant selection. We look in detail at multiple methods for propagating plants and provide you access to video demonstrations as well as detailed instructions with written and visual aids to help you apply your knowledge and build your skills in the garden. We look at some specific examples of herbs to grow as well as more general procedures that can be applied to any herb you wish to grow. 

We discuss medicinal weeds in the garden and learn how to make use of them to improve your garden health in addition to human health. While our focus is on outdoor gardens we also cover herbs for growing indoors and container gardening. Finally, we go into detail about how and when to harvest medicinal herbs and how to dry and store them for future use, completing the cycle and giving you the knowledge for herb gardening from start to finish. 

By the end of the course, you will have the ability to: 

  • Plan a medicinal herb garden.
  • Research plants to obtain all needed information about successful cultivation. 
  • Plan herbal cultivation and harvest according to plant life cycles. 
  • Propagate and maintain various categories of herbs. 
  • Understand propagation skills including seeding, stem cuttings, root cuttings, divisions, and transplanting.
  • Amend soil for plant growth.
  • Conduct a basic soil test. 
  • Create new garden beds. 
  • Recognize and utilize under-appreciated garden ‘weeds’.
  • Select herbs for container gardening and indoor gardening. 
  • Harvest medicinal herbs for use.
  • Grow specific select plants.

Lesson plan

Section I | Welcome

1. Introduction

2. Course outline

3. Why garden?

Section II | Getting started

4. Organic gardening & permaculture

5. Planning your garden site

6. Plant selection

7. Plant life cycles & growth forms

8. Building garden beds

Section III | Foundations of gardening: soil

9. Understanding soil

10. Soil testing

11. Soil amendments

12. Composting

13. Vermi-composting

14. Sheet mulching

Section IV | Propagation methods

15. Plant propagation methods overview

16. Transplanting

17. Seeding

18. Root division

19. Stem cutting

20. Layering

21. Root cutting

Section V | Herbal cultivation

22. Specific herbs to cultivate

23. Medicinal ‘weeds’ in the garden

Section VI | Indoor and container cultivation

24. Container gardening

Section VII | Garden maintenance

25. Garden maintenance

Section VIII | Herbal harvest, drying, & processing

26. Introduction to herbal harvesting

27. Harvest timing & equipment

28. Harvesting specific plant parts

29. Harvesting aerial parts

30. Harvesting flowers

31. Harvesting roots

32. Drying & storing your herbs

33. Options for drying

34. Processing dried herbs

35. Storing dried herbs

Section IX | Conclusion

36. Course review