The chamomile herb is an extremely useful sleeping agent for many who suffer from mild forms of insomnia. Besides this, a number of health benefits have been reported on consuming chamomile tea. The fresh or dried flowers are steeped in hot water to produce a mild tea which is both soothing and delicious! There are many different varieties of the herb. Some that grow wildly and some that are cultivated for use. Of the many varieties, only two- German chamomile and Roman chamomile- are used for drinking purposes. You can purchase these at your tea store or you can even choose to grow them! How to Grow Chamomile German chamomile grows from seeds sown directly in their garden location. The delicate seeds are very tiny and should be handled with care. The best way to plant these is to scatter the seeds over the prepared bed and then gently tapping the soil with the flat side of a hoe or the back of a spade. This variety of chamomile is planted when temperatures hit 10C, so its best to grow chamomile in colder countries. It usually germinates within a week to ten days. Flowering occurs in anywhere between eight to ten weeks. Blooms develop continuously, and once flowering commences, harvesting is possible every ten days to two weeks.
Roman chamomile can be started from seeds or cuttings, or by root division. While German chamomiles can withstand a bit of frost, the Roman variety needs a full sun. The seedling should have a six to twelve inch spacing ad planted in a slightly acidic to neutral soil with good drainage. A rich soil will produce lush leaf growth but few flowers. It is an excellent, but slow-growing, ground cover for cooler areas. Roman chamomile does not tolerate hot, dry weather. It has approximately the same harvest time as German chamomile.
Once harvested both varieties can be dried and stored. They both make excellent teas. One simply needs to add a few chamomile flowers to a cup of hot water and allow it to steep for 4-5 minutes. Since chamomile has an extremely mild flavour, this tea will never be too strong to the taste, but one can steep the tea longer if desired. It is best to avoid any additions to the tea, be it milk, sugar, or honey as it will completely overpower the flavour of the tea. Now, pick a cup, steep the tea, sit back, and enjoy!
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