It is important to remember that a polytunnel can be used to provide far more than just food. Most polytunnel gardeners, of course, will focus on producing edible crops. But by branching out, and considering plants to grow for other purposes, you can gain a wide range of other yields. In this article, we’ll look at some plants to grow for DIY natural cleaning and beauty products.
Why Make your Own DIY Natural Cleaning and Beauty Products?
Before we get onto the list of plants, let’s take a moment to think about why you should consider making your own cleaning and beauty products rather than just buying them from the shops.
Making your own natural cleaning and beauty products is a great way to reduce your reliance on damaging systems. Many common household cleaners and beauty products take a toll on the planet – and on human health. When you make your own natural products – especially when you use plants you have grown yourself, you can take back control. You will be in charge of what goes into each recipe – and will know exactly what is in each one.
Even when you buy organic, natural products, it is important to take into account the carbon cost of making them, and transporting them to your home.
All those plastic containers also, of course, come at a cost. You should always think carefully about how you can reduce the amount of single use plastic that comes into your home, and how you can reduce the amount of waste you produce. By making your own products, you can do away with plastic packaging entirely, which makes it far easier to move towards a zero waste lifestyle.
If you want to move towards a more sustainable, zero waste, green lifestyle, then growing plants in your polytunnel that you can use in making your own is a great idea.
To help you explore some other interesting options, here are 10 of the best plants to grow for DIY natural cleaning and beauty products:
Apples – For Apple Cider Vinegar
If you have the space in your polytunnel, or elsewhere in your garden, you should definitely consider growing some apples. Apple trees don’t just provide fruit to eat. There is also potential to turn apples into apple cider, which can then be used to make apple cider vinegar. Alternatively, you can make an apple scrap vinegar, using the cores of the apples that you eat. Apple cider vinegar is not only good for your health when ingested. You can also use it for a range of natural cleaning and beauty solutions.
Lavender is a favourite for fragrance and for summer blooms. But another reason to grow it in your garden is for its many other uses. Lavender can be very useful for its fragrance, inside your home as well as in your polytunnel garden. You can add it to a wide range of cleaning and beauty recipes. For example, you can make a lavender infused vinegar and use that to keep your windows and other hard surfaces clean. Of course it can also be used in potions, lotions, soaps and much, much more for its relaxing, anti-anxiety and antiseptic properties.
This is one of the best antibacterial herbs out there, so it is great for household cleaning purposes. You don’t have to restrict yourself to using it only in the kitchen. It can be used in a wide range of natural cleaning and natural beauty recipes. For example, an infusion of the dried leaves (and flowers) can be used in natural shampoos or hair lotions. Burning rosemary has a fumigant and disinfectant effect.
Also antibacterial and anti-fungal, many varieties of thyme can be grown in a polytunnel. It can be great for a range of household purposes, from home cleaning solutions to perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes and more. It can help prevent mildew and dried flowers can also help to repel moths from a wardrobe.
Sage, the common culinary herb is not only good in edible recipes. It is known to be effective in cleaning solutions because it is antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial. Use it to clean your kitchen, since it has been shown to be effective against bugs like E. coli and salmonella. Burning sage in your home may also help cleanse bacteria from the air.
A wide range of mints are also incredibly useful around your home. Not only do they have a fresh smell, you can also use them in recipes for homemade soaps, cleaning products, toothpastes, and more… Mint is a very easy perennial herb to grow, and so you can grow plenty of it to meet all the needs you may have in your particular household.
Calendula has a long history of use in herbal medicine. The plant has a range of beneficial properties. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and can be used to soothe and heal skin. The flowers can be used fresh or dried in a wide range of herbal preparations and domestic remedies, as well as in a wide range of beauty products, such as balms, lotion bars, soaps, salves, hair rinses and more.
Native to North America, echinacea is known in herbal medicine for its detoxicant effect. This plant was used by North American Indians to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects. And it can be used to treat and soothe skin irritation in a range of cleaning and beauty products as well as being taken internally.
The yucca (Yucca glauca) is sometimes referred to as ‘soapweed yucca’. Its roots are rich in saponins. Like other plants containing high levels of saponins, these produce slippery soap bubbles. Yucca root also has anti-bacterial properties. Growing this plant may be possible in a frost-free polytunnel, and you can then dig up the plant and dry the root. Combine ¼ tbsp cut and sifted yucca root with 2 pints of water to make a liquid soap.
This is well known for its many benefits in herbal medicine – including its soothing and skin healing effects. Aloe vera is commonly used in a wide range of cosmetic skin care products and can also be used in making natural beauty products – for example, people combine aloe vera gel with charcoal to make a natural mascara. It is not very cold hardy and so cannot usually be grown outdoors in the UK. But a polytunnel opens up potential to grow this interesting and useful plant.
These are just a few of many beneficial plants that you could grow for DIY natural cleaning and beauty products. Explore your options and you will be able to grow a huge range of different crops. And not just for food but also for a range of other uses around your home.
Some of them will not only be useful in their own right. A few can even make other plants grow better when used as companion plants. Some help them by repelling, distracting or confusing pests. Or by attracting pollinators and beneficial wildlife. So whether or not you use them for cleaning and beauty products – there are plenty of reasons to grow them in your polytunnel garden.
Do you make grow your own plants for natural cleaning and beauty? Share your favourite recipes and any tips or suggestions in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.