By Ute Bierbaumer & Portia Eubanks of HARMONY HERBS
Why grow herbs you may well ask. First of all, many are easy to grow, water efficient, hardy and very attractive! Herbs can be used in many different ways.
The most popular use is of course, culinary. Herbs such as rosemary, thymes, oregano, winter savoury for example, can be liberally ‘sprinkled’ (we throw in a handful) on BBQ meat and veggies and enhance the flavor in your cooking such as winter roasts, soups, casseroles, etc.
Fresh herbs used in salads, for example, chicory, endives, dandelion, rocket, parsley are delicious mixed with lettuces. Asian herbs like coriander and basils are popular in summer, but require moisture (being tropical herbs) to reduce ‘bolting’.
Herbs have been used medicinally since ancient times. You can grow and dry soothing tasty teas such as lemon verbena, mints, lemon thyme, fennel seed, chamomile to name a few. Keep a jug of iced herb tea at hand during summer.
Herbs make excellent companion plants, so plant them throughout your veggie patch and flower gardens. Pest repellents such as tansy, feverfew, wormwoods, garlic, tree onions and calendula will help keep your animals, fruit trees and veggie garden ‘pest free’ (our goats ‘self medicate’ freely from the large mugwort shrubs).
Our organic herb plot is the size of a tennis court – large enough to dry, pot and provide fresh herbs at the farmers markets and throughout our local area, so you do not need much space. A few large containers near your kitchen, garden or BBQ area would suffice or you could create a ‘mini garden’ including pest repellents, culinary herbs and a range of veggies around fruit trees. This will mutually benefit the herbs with shade, watering and compost. Last season, a self-seeded pumpkin plant yielded a great crop of enormous ‘oranges’ all over our orange tree..quite a sight!
Excess herbs can be dried, composted or some can be given to goats, sheep, poultry and pets (as bedding, pest repellants, medicinal)…or better still, share them with your friends!
Growing your own herbs is an ongoing adventure and delight as you discover their benefits and experiment with your cooking. Not only do they improve the taste of food but have health and environmental benefits as well – surely a win-win situation!