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How to use and grow a variety of Herbs

Written by:- Admin

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I did a talk at the Library at Burleigh Heads on herbs and their medicinal and culinary uses. The talk went for just over one hour and included a variety of herbs from our large range. I have a list of the herbs I spoke about below with a little information on each of them and the odd recipe.

If you attended the talk  and have any questions about what was discussed you can leave a comment bellow.

ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis

Perennial – well drained – open sunny – 1.5m

Cooking – lamb, herb butter, potatoes, oils & vinegars, biscuits, cake & shortbread.

Medicinal – Herb of Rememberance, stimulates circulation, digestion, lifts depression, headaches and migraine.

Mix with shampoo to stimulate hair growth and relieve dandruff, or rinse with rosemary tea.
Companion – beans, cabbage, carrots, garlic, parsnip and sage.

SAGE Salvia officinalis

Perennial – well drained – open sunny – 80cm

Cooking – stuffings, pork, duck, fatty meat (aids digestion, high in anti-oxidants & antibacterial it was added to meat and sausage to both flavour and preserve.) butters, cream sauces, potatoes and biscuits.

Medicinal – gargle tea for tonsillitis, infected gums, mouth ulcers. Sage tea decreases mother’s milk and reduces hot flushes in menopause.

Companion – beans, cabbage, carrots, parsnip, peas, rosemary, roses & strawberries.

THYME Thymus vulgaris

Perennial – well drained – open sunny – 40cm

Cooking – stews, soups, baked vegetables, roast chicken, meat, eggs and fish.

Medicinal – antiseptic and tonic use for colds (throat and chest). Use externally for fungal infections, bites, aches and pains.

Companion – cabbage, onion, roses, salad burnet.

Put 1 tablespoon of fresh sage and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme into a teapot, cover with1 cup of boiling water and steep for up to 10 minutes. Strain. This Tea can be sipped slowly or gargled for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers and infected gums. It can be frozen in ice cube trays for children to suck when they have a sore throat.

OREGANO Origanum vulgare

Perennial – well drained – full sun – 60cm

Cooking – pizza, pasta, poultry, tomato dishes, cheese, meat and fish

Medicinal – antiseptic – use for bronchitis, tonsillitis, coughs, promotes menstruation and relieves flatulence. Companion – broccoli and the cabbage family.

Rub a thin pizza base with garlic. Cover base with fresh slices of tomato. Sprinkle with plenty of fresh chopped oregano. Cook in hot oven for 10 – 15min.

SWEET BASIL Ocimum basilicum

Annual – well drained – full sun – 1m

Cooking – pesto, spaghetti sauce, tomato dishes, soups, stews, salads, eggs, rice, fish and mushrooms.

Medicinal – use for indigestion, flatulence, tummy cramps, nausea and vomiting

Companion – tomatoes, capsicum and eggplants.

Place 2cups of basil leaves, 4 cloves garlic and 2tbsp pine nuts in a food processor (or pound with a mortar and pestle) process till smooth add ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and combine well. Gradually add ½ cup of olive oil. Bottle and refrigerate. Use stirred through pasta; add to stir-fries, spread on sandwiches or savoury muffins.

PEPPERMINT Mentha x piperita

Perennial – moist – full sun / part shade – 45cm

Cooking – use in desserts, drinks, teas, sauces, liqueurs and some vegetables.

Medicinal – tea helps relieve indigestion, relaxes muscles in the digestive tract, Improves concentration and helps kill bacteria, parasites and viruses in the stomach.

Companion – cabbage, onion and stinging nettle.

LEMON BALM Melissa officinalis

Perennial – moist fertile soil – part shade – 60cm

Cooking – stir-fries, salad, fruit salad, jelly, ice-cream, cake and tea (hot or cold)

Medicinal – bruise fresh leaves and apply to insect bites, cuts and grazes. A leaf tea is a relaxing tonic for anxiety, mild depression, nervous headaches and digestive problems such as indigestion, acidity, nausea, bloating and colicky pains. A strong infusion can be used on cold sores.

Companion – fruit trees, onion family, tomatoes and roses.

STEVIA Stevia rebaudiana

Herbaceous perennial – slightly acid soil – full sun – 1m

Cooking – in Japan it is used instead of artificial sweetener to sweeten pickles, meats and fish, soy sauce, fruit juice, soft drinks, yoghurt, deserts and low calorie foods. One or two leaves is enough to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee. Stevia does not brown or crystallize like sugar so cannot be used in recipes such as meringues or crunchy biscuits.

Liquid extract of stevia
To make a liquid extract combine 1cup of warm water with ½ cup of mashed fresh leaves in a jar with a lid and let stand for 24hrs. Strain and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

TURMERIC Curcuma longa

Rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial – humid, moist but well-drained soil – sun- part shade – 1m. Cooking – The bright golden yellow rhizome has a warm mild aroma, use in pickles, curries, devilled eggs, beans, lentil, rice, poultry, seafood and vegetables in particular cauliflower and potato dishes. The leaves can be used to wrap foods before cooking either on a hotplate, in the oven or steamed. The young shoots and flowers can be used in salads or stir-fries.

Medicinal – Turmeric stimulates circulation and the gall bladder, it improves the action of the liver and is a remedy for jaundice. It can be used to stimulate digestion, and is helpful for gastritis, acidity and relieving nausea. The anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for arthritis, asthma and eczema. Skin complaints such as psoriasis, fungal infections, athletes foot, cuts and bruises can be treated with a poultice of turmeric. It has blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties.

COMFREY Symphytum officinale

Perennial – moist soil – full sun / part shade – 120cm

Cooking – leaves can be steamed or battered and fried.

Medicinal – comfrey leaves and root contain allantoin which increases the healing of skin problems, rashes, wounds, ulcers, psoriasis, bruises, fractures and broken bones.

Companion – fruit trees, berries and eau de cologne mint. Use leaves in compost heap, as a rich mulch, place leaves under roses to help prevent rust. Makes a good liquid fertilizer.

Liquid fertiliser
Half fill a large bucket with crushed comfrey leaves. Fill bucket with water and cover securely. Stand in the shade for 4 weeks. Dilute 50/50 with water. Use every 3-4 weeks. (it is smelly)

ECHINACEA Echinacea purpurea

Perennial – deciduous – well drained – full sun – 1m

Cooking – herb tea, flower petals can be sprinkled into salads. Medicinal – boosts the immune system, improves white blood cell count. Use fresh as a tea or take as a tincture for colds, flu, tonsillitis, skin disorders and chronic infections both bacterial and viral.

Garden – ornamental, flowers October – March.

Place 300g of chopped flower, root and leaf of Echinacea purpurea in a clean glass jar. Pour a 750ml bottle of vodka over chopped plant. Seal jar, shake daily, after 2 weeks strain into a clean dark jar. Use 5ml a day as a preventative or 5ml three times a day for chronic infections.

FRENCH TARRAGON Artemisia dracunculus

Herbaceous perennial – full sun – well drained rich soil – 30cm

Cooking – Use in salads, fish and chicken. Add to white wine vinegar, pickles, mustards and butter. It is one of the herbs in the classic French mix – fines herbes – includes equal parts of Parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon. The fresh herbs are chopped finely together. Sprinkle over green salad, add to omelets, poached chicken or fish, mix into a butter sauce for fish, or sprinkle over any dish as a garnish.

Medicinal – Chew the leaves to numb a toothache, good for digestion.


Perennial – sun – most soils – well-drained – 80cm-1m
It can substitute the well-known tarragon, and can be grown more easily in a hot climate.

Cooking – It has a sweet aniseed flavour and makes a delicious tea. The leaves can be added to salads, fruit salads and used in place of French tarragon for fish and chicken dishes.

SALAD BURNETSanguisorba minor

Perennial – Well drained alkaline soil – Sun – 50cm

Cooking - Fresh and cooling with a nutty cucumber flavour. Add the leaves to salads, sandwiches spread with cream cheese or avocado, vinegars, salad dressings, butters, cheese and dips. Yoghurt with chopped dill and Salad Burnet makes a great addition to Indian curries. You can use a stem of the leaflets in Pimm’s instead of the slice of cucumber or the leaves can be floated in a punch bowl.

Medicinal – The leaves can be used freshly mashed or dried and powdered to help stop bleeding or used in the mouth to heal mouth ulcers and a leaf tea will stop diarrhoea. Chinese medicine uses the root on burns and wounds to reduce inflammation and infection. Salad Burnet makes a cooling floral water that will revive and refresh your skin in hot or dry weather.

DANDELION Taraxacum officinale

Perennial – most soils – sun – 30cm

Cooking – use the leaves in salads, or cook gently like spinach, add to quiches and pies.

Medicinal – The leaves are a useful diuretic with the added benefit of being quite high in potassium, an example of how nature provides the perfect balance. The roots support the liver and are used in the treatment of cirrhosis, gallstones, hepatitis, jaundice, indigestion and constipation.

MUSHROOM PLANTRungia klossii

Perennial – Sun or shade – Rich fertile soil – bush to 60cm
sky-blue flowers in spring – summer
A nutritious plant that is higher in protein than mushrooms, it contains calcium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron and other vitamins and minerals. Its crunchy mushroom flavoured leaves are delicious raw in salads and sandwiches or add to soups and stir-fries at the end of cooking to ensure full flavour.

SALAD MALLOW Corchorus olitorius

Annual – rich fertile soil – likes hot – sun – 1m
Grows through the summer months supplying large amounts of nutritious leaves.

Cooking – the fresh leaves can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups and stews. Cook like spinach

Medicinal – a nutritious plant containing vitamins A, some Bs and C, high in potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. The leaves are high in mucilage, this is very soothing to the digestive tract.

WILD ROCKETDiplotaxis muralis

Perennial (treat as an annual in frost prone areas) – sun – well drained soil – 30cm

Culinary – The leaves are of this rocket are more peppery than regular rocket. Add leaves to salads sandwiches, white sauce or mayo to spread over vegetables. A salad of just wild rocket leaves is nice dressed with salt, lemon, oil and vinegar.

Medicinal – Wild rocket is a digestive stimulant. It is also high in sulphur, which is good for healthy skin, hair and nails.

PERILLA Perilla frutescens

Annual – well drained soil – sun/part shade – 1.5m
In Japan perilla is known as Shiso. The leaves are eaten with sashimi to flavour and prevent food poisoning.
The fresh leaves can be added to salads, soups with meat & fish.
Medicinally it is used for colds and flu and many other traditional uses.

SORREL Rumex acetosa

Perennial – Semi-sun – Acid soil
Leaves give a hint of lemon flavour, and are nice added to salads that include avocado. In Egyptian times, sorrel was eaten to offset the richness of some foods. Cook and eat sorrel like spinach, in soup, salads, sauces. Like spinach, sorrel should not be cooked in aluminum.

ST JOHNS WORT Hypericum perforatum

Perennial – most well drained soils – sun – 60cmn flower.

In NSW and VIC and some other Australian states it is declared noxious because of its vigorous growth in a temperate climate and because it causes severe photosensitivity in stock that eat it.

St Johns Wort can be made into a red oil for external use by macerating the flowering tops in sunflower, olive or wheatgerm oil for 6 weeks. This can then be rubbed onto the area for relief of wounds, burns, cramps and nerve pain.

An infusion can be taken to relieve depression, anxiety and emotional upsets associated with menopause or premenstrual syndrome. 2-4g of dried herb infused with water and taken as a tea three times per day.

Clinical trials have shown St Johns Wort to be affective in the treatment of mild to major depression, with no known adverse mental or physical effects. When compared to the benzodiazepine, diazepam in the treatment of anxiety Hypericum extract was found to be more affective. The antiviral action is being researched for use in treating HIV and AIDS.

• Anti depressant drugs
• Check interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs. (increases the clearance rate of some drugs)
• May cause photosensitivity in some individuals. (Unlikely at normal therapeutic doses.) .

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posted on July 17th, 2010

  • Lyle Hughes

    Great web site Mick, you told me about it months ago only got around to reading it today.
    Keep up the great work. You are both great ambassadors for the alternative.

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