Tap into that essential herbal heritage

Tap into that essential herbal heritage

A comprehensive herb garden is critical to any good garden, so here's a snapshot of the plants you can't live without...

Common garden mint is a staple in salads, savoury meals and gin and tonics. It makes everything fresh and zesty.

It's also a fantastic ground cover which will go 'weedy' if you let it.

To prevent this from happening, plant it in the ground while still in a plastic garden pot, but with the bottom cut out.

As mint's roots are shallow runners they want spread, but the plastic garden pot will keep them isolated.

Rau ram (Vietnamese mint) has a unique strong taste which is great used fresh in rice wraps or curries.

'Borage for courage' is the old saying. The story goes Napoleon would give borage flowers to his troops before battle to help them feel brave.

The flowers look like blue stars, and while we mostly use them in salads, you can also make tea with them.

Echinacea is one of the most stunning herbs you can grow and profoundly medicinal. It's generally used for preventing sickness and boosting the immune system.

Technically an annual, calendula is considered a perennial in our garden as it's constantly self seeding and is everywhere, which we love and foster by throwing their dry seeds all over the place.

The flowers are the bits you eat and make any dull salad look like a party.

Chamomile is a low ground creeper/cover and a beautiful plant to include in your herb patch.

We harvest the flowers, dry them and use them for tea which has a calming, soothing and sleep-inducing effect.

Once the flowering has finished, I cut it back down to the ground which allows fresh growth to come back.

Rosemary is a staple for cooking in both sweet and savoury dishes.

When it comes to nasturtiums the leaves and flowers are scrumptious in salads, or harvest the seed pods for 'poor man capers'.

They're also a fantastic living mulch and can be planted among perennial plants/orchards to protect the soil, attract beneficial insects and just make things look really good.

Oregano is a super tasty addition to pretty much anything you're cooking.

Lemon verbena produces one of the tastiest and most refreshing teas. Simply pick the leaves, pop them in a tea pot and enjoy.

As well as making anything taste good, sage is also great as a tea for sore throats. Then there's purple sage, because it's not enough to just have the common blue/grey one.

Thyme is a staple for cooking or as a tea to help get rid of infections. Blend it with sage and make a tea for maximum health-giving properties.

Curry bush really does smell and taste like curry.

If you have the room also consider yarrow,comfrey and plantain. You can literally use plantain as a bandaid and yarrow is a compost activator (comfrey and plantain also fit into this category of nutrient-dense plants).

You can make a tea out of yarrow flowers too which is good as an anti-inflammatory, helps break fevers and helps the digestive system.

On top of all these we have parsley,coriander (thrives in the cooler months), basil (in warmer months) and chives (a great border plant) thriving around the garden which we've integrated into some of the annuals veggie beds.

A productive and full herb garden can also help stabilise a steep bank and attract large amount of beneficial insects (there is always something flowering).

To find out more about growing herbs, explore Herbal Harvest, a book/bible written by Greg Whitten who lives in Tasmania and runs Goulds Herb Farm.

Good Life Permaculture is a landscape design and education enterprise that creates resilient and regenerative lives and landscapes: goodlifepermaculture.com.au/