By Helena Foster, Seed Savers Albury Wodonga
Looking at the domestic history of mankind, herbs have always played a crucial role in many aspects of everyday life, in all cultures. With the advent of modern Western commercial age their popularity has waned but in recent times they are making a significant comeback. Only a short time ago parsley was the only herb available in the supermarkets. Now rocket, basil, coriander are a staple and shops reflect the palates of the multicultural society we have become. On the commercial level this revival can be attributed to our love of global cuisines, driven by the abounding TV cooking shows. But the real, grass -roots turnaround has been brought about by our ever increasing awareness of health and ecological issues, which led to a renewal of interest in growing our own food – and growing vegetables and herbs goes so hand in hand.
We use herbs mainly to flavour our dishes. That’s a great reason to grow our own. Just think of the economy alone- how often do we buy a bunch, only to use a sprig or two and the rest goes in the bin? Additional benefits: we can harvest fresh, have a choice of organic, can preserve or share surplus. We also tend to use less salt when seasoning with herbs.
But here’s the most important reason to use herbs abundantly and with gusto: they are a fantastic, and sadly under-utilised, source of vitamins, minerals and chemical compounds essential for our wellbeing. Please don’t take my word for it, Google “nutritional facts of parsley”, or rocket, or oregano, and prepare to be astonished.
It’s easy to grow herbs and you don’t need a huge garden for a continuous supply all year around. They must have min. 6 hrs of sunlight a day and well draining, lean soil, which makes them perfect for growing in pots. With exception of mints, parsley, basil and coriander, they need little water and some of the more aromatic kind , like rosemary, lavender and thyme even benefit from being grown in poor, dry conditions –the tougher the plant ,the more concentrated the flavour.
In pots or in the ground, they are a rewarding way to start a new garden. Hardy and fast growing, humble herbs give us flavour, health, beauty, fragrance, and colour. To top it all off, their flowers are an important food source for our pollinating insects – can we afford to be without them?
To find out more about using and preserving herbs, join us on Sunday 20th of October, 3 -5 pm at the Albury Community Wood Fired Oven, Hovel Tree Park for a free “nana technology” workshop presented by Seed Savers Albury Wodonga in conjunction with Albury City Council.