With grocery prices rising, a herb garden can help you save a few dollars, nurture your environment and improve your health! Here, Endeavour academic and self-confessed herb lover Tracy Gaibisso shares five tips to help you start a herb garden at home.
#1 Start small
"One of the great things about herbs is that you can fit them anywhere – in a community garden patch, cottage garden, or on your balcony or windowsill. Some herbs, like mint, are best grown in a pot," Tracy said. "More important than your garden space is the love and attention you give your herbs!"
Tracy recommends starting with one or two cooking herbs or, if you're more interested in medicinal herbs, start with Chamomile or Calendula. These herbs have lovely flowers as well as healing properties."
#2 Pick your position
"Herbs need sunlight for at least two hours per day," Tracy said. "Hardier plants like lavender and rosemary need more sun than softer-leafed herbs. For healthy herbs, you'll need healthy, well-drained, crumbly soil. If you have clay or sandy soil, add compost or worm castings for improved growth."
If you're growing herbs in pots, Tracy recommends using pots with drainage holes, grouping pots to help insulate the plants from extreme temperatures and using organic soil mix.
#3 Water often
"Many people underestimate how much water herbs need to thrive," Tracy said. "Water newly-planted herbs every day to begin and then at least twice a week. The soil in pots dries out faster than in garden beds, so to check whether your herbs need water, insert your finger into the soil. If the soil feels dry, water well. If it's moist, hold off."
#4 Fertilise and mulch
"For a nutrient boost use a certified organic fertiliser. Apply it close to the base of the herb, not too close to the stem, and water it in. Mulching helps maintain moisture and soil structure, a stable temperature and minimises weeds.”
#5 Enjoy your harvest
Tracy recommends being gentle when you harvest your herbs.
"Never rip leaves from the plant or pick them all. Always leave some to allow future growth. For herbs like rosemary, cut it back to above a leaf node with signs of life, and the plant will bush out from this area. Some herbs, like parsley, can be picked from the base, taking the older leaves first."
Follow these tips, and soon you will be enjoying home-grown herbs in your cooking and sharing them with family and friends.
Interested in Nutrition?
Tracy has been in clinical practice as a herbalist and Naturopath since 2002 with a special interest in pre-conception, fertility, women's hormones and reproductive health. In addition to her naturopathic qualifications, she has completed post-graduate training in wellness and has a Masters in reproductive medicine. She also currently sits on the Clinical Advisory Committee for Endometriosis Australia.
She offers couples the BEYOND FERTILITY ™ program to assist in achieving optimal outcomes for a healthy pregnancy and birth and offers other practitioners mentoring in the program. She also has her own range of herbal teas in this space.
She is a well-respected industry speaker and established workshop facilitator, speaking both nationally and internationally. In addition, she both supervises in the Clinic and lectures at Endeavour College of Natural Health Perth.
In her downtime, she is a self-confessed foodie and animal lover and you will often find her concocting recipes with medicinal herbs into teas, elixirs, oxymels, smoothies, oils and poultices and researching ways of resurrecting ancient healing knowledge into modern practice.
"One of the most important things I learnt was that change doesn’t have to be drastic. It can start small and evolve from there."
- Sarah Marshall
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