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Herbs add variety and interest to organic cuisine, provide humans with natural medicines, and are the source of many wonderful fragrances. They are also a valuable aid in the organic garden, with many of them being deterrents to unhelpful insects.

Growing

  • aromatic herbs should be grown in a sheltered site, which will also provide a better habitat for valuable insects
  • herbs produce better if they are regularly pruned or trimmed back. Lifting, dividing and replanting in a new site can increase vigour where roots have become tangled
  • regular replacement of herbs helps prevent diseases that can develop with older plants
  • many herbs lose their vigour after a few years and should be replaced
  • comfrey leaves added to the compost heap are an activator

Harvesting

  • harvest leafy herbs when the concentration of aromatic oils is highest, just before the plant flowers
  • roots of herbs are best harvested in winter when the plant is dormant
  • all dried herbs should be stored in airtight containers, opaque or in a dark place as light causes herbs to deteriorate

Interesting Facts

Anise

  • used in medicines for masking unpleasant tastes
  • used as an additive to bait in traps for noxious animals

Mint

  • in ancient times mint was used as a strewing herb (placed on the floor) to repel rodents from households

Parsley

  • regarded by Ancient Greeks as a symbol of death it was their custom to scatter parsley over tombs of the dead
  • Greeks and Romans ate the leaves and also wore wreaths of leaves in the belief that the scent would absorb the fumes of wine, thus preventing intoxication
  • in medieval times, parsley was involved in black magic rituals and there are still superstitions regarding it
  • will sweeten or deodorise the worst of bad breath
  • contains a lot of iron, calcium, phosphorus and manganese and vitamins C and A

Rosemary

  • history dates back to biblical times and later it was the main condiment used in Europe for salted meats
  • it had associations with funerals and weddings and became a symbol of fidelity, hence the expression ‘rosemary for remembrance’
Photograph
Sage

Sage

  • in ancient times, sage was valued for its use in medicines, potions and tonics

Savory

  • used in ancient Rome as a seasoning for sauces and vinegar
  • it was also reported to have some medicinal value and was used in potions and ointments

Thyme

  • ancient writers mention thyme being used as an incense to perfume and purify and as a strewing herb to overcome unpleasant odours
  • it was also a symbol of courage in ancient Greece

Links

More herb information from Kay of Organic Gardening From Down Under.

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The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic


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