Monday, January 2, 2012


This year's One Seed Chicago choices are chamomile, basil, and cilantro. I think it's the first year that I've actually liked every choice, and would feel just fine no matter which one wins (last tiny sniff for last year's loser- eggplant). I'll do some posts on the other two choices as well.

Therefore, I'm not tipping my hand, (I'll do some posts on the other two choices as well) but I want to depress some misinformation that has started to get out there via Mike Nowak's show during the announcement:
Chamomile is not hard to grow

I first planted chamomile maybe a decade ago. It's the only time I've ever planted it, and yet I get more chamomile every year than I can use. This is because it reseeds. And I just let it go--I have
Grown for a plant sale in 2011
chamomile in the ornamental beds, in the herb beds, in the berry patch, in the tomatoes, in the onions. It's kind of fun to see where it pops up. If it's really somewhere that I don't want it, I let it get about 5 inches tall, and then move it.

Chamomile is pretty, and it behaves itself. Unlike other flowering herbs, like dill, it doesn't get leggy or wild. The biggest drawback of chamomile is that it's a drag to harvest.

I suppose there are probably other uses for chamomile, but primarily I use it for tea. The tea is made from the yellow seed heads, and you want them without the white petals. I wait for the petals to drop, then I grap the top of a given plant, and just hack all the seed heads off with their stems. Then, unfortunately, you have to remove the stems from all the hundreds of tiny seed heads, and any petals that are left. I put it in a pie pan to dry. Don't crumble it (it may fall apart on its own); store in jars.

What you're left with is the most flavorful tea you can imagine. You'll never drink commercial chamomile tea again--the flavor is a pale shadow of the real thing. I grow enough every year to get me through the winter, because you barely need any to make a pot since the flavor is so strong.

As far as next year, it's just about impossible to harvest it all, so some of the seed heads will fall into the soil, and you'll have chamomile next year too. I'm a little worried this year, because a lot of chamomile has sprouted already because of the extended warmth this year.
Self-seeded chamomile in my Savory Walk
Maybe it will be the first year I need to replant! If so, I might get some seeds from One Seed Chicago.


  1. I love it! Chamomile is the ONLY plant I've never been able to grow!!

  2. This is what I'm hearing. I don't even try, it just grows itself!