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How I use herbs

My herb garden has grown from a few herbs in pots to over 30 different herbs (depending on your definition of herbs), some in pots, some in permanent spots in the garden, and some self-seeding where-ever they please. I have come to use herbs in cooking, preserving and fermenting, in herbal teas, and in various other applications around the house and garden, both for their taste and their healing properties, and as natural alternatives to stronger chemicals. As my interest in herbs has grown, I have also collected a number of herb books. I started with Isobel Shippard’s comprehensive How Can I Use Herbs in my Daily Life?, and added to this several more from markets and op-shops. I’m no herb expert, but I would like to start to share what I have learnt so far and maybe interest you in some of the more unusual herbs in my garden and some less obvious applications for them.

I’ve decided to feature a herb (or a group of herbs) each month and write in detail how and where it grows and how I use it. If you are a herb-geek like me and would like to share some herb knowledge on your own blog, please send me the link and I’ll publish it in my monthly garden post (I’m too stingy to pay for a proper link-up!). Tips for growing and using herbs in different climates will be very useful to other bloggers, so please share what you know.

To give you an idea of what I’m going to write about, here’s my current list of herbs, where they are growing, and how I use them:

Mint – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Peppermint – in a pot, used for tea

Spearmint – in a pot, used for tea

Rosemary – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Thyme – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Oregano – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Lavender – in the garden, used for bug deterrent and bee food

Sage – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Ginger – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Galangal – in the garden, used for cooking and tea

Turmeric – in a pot, used for cooking and tea

Arrowroot – in the garden, used for animal fodder, mulch and root can be eaten

Warrigal greens – in the garden, used as green vege

Herb Robert – self-seeded, used in salads and tea

Rue – in garden, used for bug repellent and chicken worming

Wormwood – in garden, used for bug repellent and chicken worming

Tansy – in garden, used for bug repellent and chicken worming

Raspberry – in garden, fruit eaten (If I’m lucky) and leaves for tea

Winter tarragon – in a pot, used for tea

Nasturtium – in garden, leaves for salad

Soapwort – in a pot, used to make detergent

Comfrey – in a pot and in the garden, used for animal fodder, mulch, compost

Dill – self-seeded, used in salads and pickles

Basil – self-seeded, used in cooking (pesto!)

Parsley – self-seeded, used in cooking

Yarrow - in a pot, used for tea and compost

Marigold - self-seeded, bee food and benefitial conpanion plant

Brahmi – in a pot, used in tea and salad (very bitter though)

Evening primrose – in a pot, not sure what its used for yet

Borage – self-seeded, flowers and leaves used in salad and tea

Calendula - self-seeded, flower petals used in tea and for skin salves

Lemon grass – in a pot and in the garden, used for cooking and tea

Chickweed – self-seeded, used in salad

Garlic chives – self-seeded and spreading (and impossible to eradicate), used in salad

Aloe vera - in the garden, used for compost and healing burns

Isobel Shippard’s book is my absolute favourite because she lives and grows herbs on the Sunshine Coast, which is only about 200 km from Nanango and has a similar climate. All my other herb books are from the US or UK, so they do not offer as much advice about local growing conditions, although some go into more detail about the actual chemicals in the herbs, and some books have different recipes and applications for the herbs. I am going to refer to all the books as I summarise the uses for each herb in my garden.

Some of the herbs in my list may not always be considered herbs. Some are also weeds, spices, flowers, fruit or vegetables, but Isobel includes any plant with medicinal or survival properties in her herb book, including raspberry, chickweed and warrigal greens, so I’ve included these too. She also includes chokos and garlic. Its pretty difficult to define what is and isn’t a herb, every time I read a definition I can think of exceptions that are commonly considered herbs, but not included by that particular definition. I’m just going to include in my list anything that is in at least one of my herb books.

Do you use herbs?  Any thoughts to share on what is and isn't a herb?

The Chicken Chick

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  1. Interesting, see I need to add more to my garden. How do you use Rue for chicken worming.? I always tell everyone visiting, it is to keep witches away, standard answer,How come I still hang out here.

    1. haha, that's good, you just feed it to them, I'll get into more detail when I do a post about it...

  2. I've recently purchase Isabell's book and love it. My garden is suffering from the heat but the herbs seem tough and keep going.

  3. I am interested to hear your comments on herbs. I am also looking at Isobell's book, having seen it recommended on another blog. We are relocating up onto the Downs in the future, so will be keen to start a more diverse collection there.
    Thank you for sharing this info.

    1. Its a great book, for growing and using all sorts of herbs.

  4. Looking forward to seeing your comments, especially after reading about the medicinal (and nutritional!) value of a lot of weeds.
    I'll have to keep my eye out for some books about herbs at the local op shops!
    - Christine

    1. yes its surprising how many "weeds" are in the herb books!

  5. I love the list you have here. If you become familiar with Ayurvedic teachings (I am a budding novice) you will see that a spice is an herb and an herb is a spice so to answer your question-nothing on your list is not an herb.
    I was tipped off about your blog via Chris at Gully Grove so hopped over here to find one of my favorite topics. I look forward to reading more of you herbal tips.

  6. 30 is a good amount of herbs. I'm really interested in how you use them for chicken worming and if it works or not. I'll look forward to these posts

  7. You have compiled a great list of growing and using so many herbs. Great Blog. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  8. Your thoughts on what constitutes a herb had me smiling. Did you know that bananas are actually a giant herb?

    1. well I will have to try to grow bananas then :)

  9. Thanksk everyone, I'l looking forward to sharing my herbs with you :)

  10. I have loved reading this post about how you use your herbs. I love the idea of feeding the chickens rue to worm them. I feed mine fresh chillies every month, they can't taste the capsaicin in them so they are not hot. That came from an old bush farmer but I love your idea of rue (too). You have some great ideas here Liz :D


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