Growing chamomile means having the right tools to do the job! And you need the right tools in the kitchen, too, to prepare your chamomile for tea and other uses!
The good news is, you don’t need many tools to grow, harvest, and prepare chamomile. Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources section at the end of this Collection for recommended suppliers for acquiring the right tools and equipment.
Chamomile-specific tools and equipment:
Chamomile Rake: Picture a deep dustpan with comb-like teeth at the edge. A chamomile rake lets you comb through the plants to pick off all the blossoms more easily than doing it by hand. It’s certainly an effective method, but gardener beware—this is a rather expensive tool. There are some DIY patterns out there if you want to make one yourself. Or just be content to putter around in the garden, using your hand as a rake. It won’t be as fast—but the price is right. (If you have a blueberry rake, it may work with your chamomile, although the chamomile rake’s teeth are closer together.)
Drying Screen: Air circulation is critical to drying your chamomile flowers, and a drying screen is the ideal tool for the job. But don’t feel like you have to go out and buy an expensive screen that’s specially labeled for the job. Chances are, you have the right components at home. One DIY project calls for an old picture frame and a window screen. Ta-da! You’re ready to dehydrate (your chamomile flowers, that is).
Garden Scissors: The best way to thin out chamomile plants is to snip the plants off at the soil line. Get yourself a good pair of small, sharp scissors—or raid the bathroom cabinet and appropriate an unused pair of bathroom scissors. You’ll use them again after you harvest the flowers, to trim off any remaining stems, which can be bitter when you brew your tea.
Harvest Basket: You don’t need an expensive basket to harvest your chamomile, but you do want a container that breathes. You want to ensure that your flowers don’t get bruised and that all the flowers you harvest stay dry. Can you just use a brown paper bag? Sure.
Infuser: From something as simple as a basket to more elaborate pitcher or teapot with a specialized central insert, an infuser serves the basic function of a teabag. The goal is to leave you with a cup of clear, uninterrupted tea.
Strainer/Strainer Basket: Just as you need a colander to strain pasta, a strainer or strainer basket lets you pour your tea from its brewing container into the waiting cups. Strainers come in materials ranging from bamboo to stainless steel.
Tea Ball: If you don’t want to strain your tea after you’ve brewed it, you can tuck your chamomile flowers—fresh or dried—into a tea ball. They come in a variety of sizes. Some have a chain attached with a hook for hanging the tea ball in your mug; others look like teaspoons, with handles that you squeeze to open the hinged ball.
Teapot: If you’re going to brew tea (or more properly in the case of chamomile, a tisane), for more than just you, a teapot is in order. Find one that suits your style. Even better—find one that has a matching strainer so you can sip your tea in style.
For the High-Tech Gardener
Here are some items that are more than just “equipment”—they’re not needed for you to be an awesome chamomile gardener, but they can help simplify the growing process and take your herb garden and more to a whole new level!
When growing chamomile plants from seeds, you can start them indoors before the season begins. But if you don’t have southern-facing windows to gain that light, grow lights are a great solution. Use grow lights only to get your seeds to the seedling stage, then plant them outdoors in the appropriate natural light.
Grow lights can also let you to extend the growing season, but they use a lot of energy and require more work and attention from you.
If you want a large garden—even just an herb garden—a greenhouse will allow you to start a mass number of seedlings all at once. With a greenhouse, you’ll have plenty of semi-indoor space and a more controlled environment for getting a bigger and more diverse garden launched.
A greenhouse would also allow you to think about making extra income from your garden. You can sell excess garden seedlings from your home or from a table at the local farmer’s market, or even just gift them to gardening friends and family.
Greenhouse styles include pre-fabricated or handmade—or you can design one that includes both. A greenhouse is a big investment, but can provide you with more gardening options and allow you to expand your overall garden.
Hydroponic Irrigation System
Hydroponic gardening has been growing in popularity in recent years—and you can grow chamomile hydroponically! While hydroponic gardening is a science in a lot of ways, as with all things gardening, there’s also an art to it.
Most hydroponic gardeners swear that crops grown hydroponically taste just as good—the same—as soil-grown crops. This can be a great solution for anyone who doesn’t have easy access to land and soil.
Containers and Pots
If you want to start plants indoors before the outdoor growing season commences, you can try several environmentally friendly and free ways to begin with materials you probably already have:
- Newspaper or brown-paper pots
- Egg cartons
- Toilet-paper rolls (yes, these work great!)
- Random containers, kitchen pans, or baking sheets (you might need holes drilled into the bottom for drainage)—if you have aging or rusting kitchen pans that you’re looking to replace, they make for great “starter pots” for getting your garden launched inside
- Starter trays and peat pots
Using a pair of garden gloves—and wearing long sleeves—when you’re tending to your plants is a good way to avoid skin irritation and to protect your fingers, hands, and arms. Get a comfortable pair of gloves that fit well, so you still have full dexterity in your garden.
A useful garden tool, the garden trowel is handy when filling your containers and when mixing compost and worm castings. Avoid cheap versions that can have flimsy handles that are prone to break. Even inferior metal trowels can bend in hard clay or rocky soil. Invest in a higher quality trowel, and you’ll have it for years!
Many plants thrive when watered slowly and deeply. While tedious and even sometimes difficult to do with a watering can, you might want to consider an irrigation method for keeping your plants slowly and deeply watered.
A standard sprinkler system is not the best solution—while easy to set up, the wide-ranging water coverage of a sprinkler can lead to wet plant leaves that promote diseases and can encourage weeds.
A drip-watering irrigation system that operates on a timer is one of the best irrigation solutions for watering plants. This type of system better controls how much water you use, minimizes water lost to evaporation, and more exactly directs water to where you want to soak your soil. While more expensive than a simple watering can, an investment in an irrigation system can pay off—specially to ensure proper watering when you’re at work or on vacation!
Pruners or Snippers
Wear your garden gloves while pruning, and be sure to get a set of pruners or snippers that are comfortable in your hand when cutting. Don’t skimp on this—you need something that cuts well and will endure through many seasons.
Some areas of the country experience drought conditions in the spring and summer, and some municipalities may impose watering bans; that means hand watering only. If you collect rainwater, you can put it to good use when it comes time to tend your plants. Some communities offer rain barrels at a special discount to encourage water conservation.
Every gardener—no matter what plants you’re tending—needs a spade, or even several of different sizes. Use your spade to move around compost, dig soil for your initial plant hole, and to keep your garden soil tidy.
Spray Pump or Bottle
To control the emergence or spread of plant diseases and pests, get a dedicated spray bottle for your potion to do the job. This is one thing you can go basic on—no need for anything fancy, as a simple plastic spray bottle is fine.
Watering cans allow you to better control exactly where the water is directed in your garden. Plant leaves and fruit don’t need water, the roots in the soil do. Get yourself a good-sized watering can, and have some fun finding a watering can with an interesting design that fits your personality. Also, you want one that has a comfortable grip.
A wheelbarrow makes it easy for you to move soil and mulch from plant to plant; and it works as an excellent mixing bowl when you’re combining the perfect soil blend. If you feel like a wheelbarrow is just a little over the top for your gardening needs, a 5-gallon bucket may suffice. Just make sure you have a good trowel to mix with.
Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gardening.
Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need to grow your chamomile.