Herbs and their uses

This page is all about herbs! I will try and cover at least two a week if not more. I use herbs a lot in my cooking and for healing. To get us started (I don’t have much time today – I’m trying to get the slabs down for the hen coop and run) I’ll post a few photos of some of the herbs we will cover………….kind of ‘carrot before the donkey’, eh? 😉

Borage (source of starflower oil)

Borage (source of starflower oil)

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Bergamot – flavouring in Earl grey tea

French Lavender

French Lavender

English lavender

English lavender

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Pulmonaria leaf. The doctrine of signatures suggested this was a good herb for lung conditions. (The leaf supposedly looking like a diseased lung!)

 

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Lemon Verbena – an amazingly scented herb! Tender; needs protection in winter – but well, well worth it!

 

Pulmonaria (the whole plant)

Pulmonaria (the whole plant)

 

Rose - yes they are classed as a herb! This one had a perfume to die for (you can almost smell it, can't you?)

Rose – yes they are classed as a herb! This one had a perfume to die for (you can almost smell it, can’t you?)

 

Sage (the flowers are a magnet for the hummingbird hawk moth)

Sage (the flowers are a magnet for the hummingbird hawk moth)

 


 

Lavender

Lavender………..you either love it or hate it! Some people don’t like it due to associations i.e. some people say it reminds them of elderly ladies. (Nothing wrong with elderly ladies, I hasten to add!) I suspect what this person actually meant was that it’s an old fashioned scent!

It’s all down to how the brain perceives the scent and any associated memories.

I always find that the scent of lavender is calming and soothing – which as we all know in Aromatherapy, this is exactly what it’s used for. It’s great for headaches and stress. I love lavender as a tea mixed with chamomile. In fact, Clipper make a lovely herb tea called, ‘Snore and Peace’ (love it!!) and it works – it really does! I have a cup every night going to bed and sleep like a baby 🙂

One of the most wonderful ways to actually see lavender is en masse! I would love a lavender hedge but my garden isn’t ideal for it – it’s not long enough. Below is a photo of how it should be seen. This is Avebury Manor in Wiltshire.

The lavender hedge at Avebury Manor

The lavender hedge at Avebury Manor

 


 

Shady ladies! 

Shade loving herbs

 I was asked yesterday about herbs for shady places. So this one is for you, Shercb!

There are quite a number of herbs that prefer a cooler, semi-shady spot. When we think ‘herbs’ we automatically think of hot climates. But that’s not always true.

Angelica, who I mentioned yesterday likes it cooler, as does Lovage, another giant herb but one with lots of uses and packs a real flavour punch. (It’s flavour is a yeasty, celery flavour that goes really well in soups, stews etc). You don’t need much though – it’s strong! I would never be without Lovage and have just grown some from seed. It’s a lot easier than Angelica, believe me!

Young lovage plants

Young lovage plants

Mints prefer it semi-shaded and cooler. There are many varieties around now, including apple mint (my all time favourite), Moroccan mint (good for tea), ginger mint, black peppermint, lemon mint, pineapple mint, chocolate peppermint (really yummy for desserts!) the list goes on………..not all of them taste quite as good as they sound though – so be warned! Another thing to bear in mind with the mints….turn your back on them and they will make a 30 second takeover bid for the whole garden! (I plant mine, but in large bottomless pots. They still escape, eventually, but it does help keep them under control. (Currently my garden is being marched all over by apple mint, but my plan is to make lashings of mint sauce which will store well). I don’t like waste!

Apple Mint

Apple Mint

Sweet Cicely is another lovely herb. Usually the first one up in spring and the last one down in autumn – plus it’s very pretty! (Just look at those fresh, ferny leaves). This one is lovely in desserts again; it will reduce the amount of sugar needed for tart fruits like rhubarb (OK, I know it’s technically a vegetable). The unripe seeds are edible too and can be added to salads and fruit salads. This one has an aniseed taste. I love this herb!

Sweet Cicely

Sweet Cicely

Parsley is another herb for a semi-shady spot. In fact, if parsley struggles and dries out, it will panic and run to seed. So keep it cool and moist. I have both the French and the Moss parsley in semi shade and they thrive. Parsley is a biennial so it flowers/seeds in it’s second year. It can be tricky to grow from seed. When I give my herb talks you can bet someone will always ask about growing parsley! The secret? Fresh seed. And, most of all, patience! Legend has it parsley has to go to the devil and back 9 times before it’ll come up! However, I shall reserve judgment on that one 🙂

Moss parsley

Moss parsley

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French parsley has the stronger flavour and is the one favoured by chefs

Even if you can only find one small patch of sunshine – grab it and put pots of the essentials there.  Basil, rosemary, sage and thyme are the four I would always find room for. Perhaps use wall pots to get them higher and into the sun. Remember to keep pots watered but basil doesn’t like being left saturated (nor does it like animal manure. I use seaweed extract with basil). Use a soil based compost for them as it’s more appropriate.

The beauty of pots, of course, is that you can move them around the garden (so long as they’re not too heavy!) This way you can ‘chase the sun’ for them – if you feel so inclined, that is! I have done stranger things, believe me!

Sage

Sage

There are many herbs that will cope with some shade – but these are amongst the most useful. Another thing to remember is that plants like lettuce don’t cope with heat either. So again a little shade won’t hurt your lettuce.

Baby lettuce

Baby lettuce

Most of all have fun, experiment – see what works in your situation and what doesn’t. The herbs mentioned above will all grow on clay soil (another of shercb’s questions). Put it this way, I’m on clay and my garden is thriving. Use plenty of well rotted garden compost (or similar if you need to buy it in) and you’ll be fine!

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Herbs and their uses

  1. Pingback: Shady ladies | Tales from Noddfa

  2. Thank you so much!!!

    What I really loved about this, is that you have mentioned really unusual herbs that I have never heard of before! I love the name Lovage!!! So sweet!! I’ll def get the staples of rosemary, sage and mint.

    Like

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