What a beautiful time of the year to be growing herbs with the cooler weather approaching. Growing your own herbs should be fun and relaxing. Australia’s extreme conditions warrant extra attention in your garden so that you can grow the herbs of your choice successfully. There are certain herbs which can be grown for the simple purpose of providing shade for your other herbs. If this is your first herb garden, then you will need to do a little planning to make it a success. Herbs will grow best in conditions which resemble those of their native habitat.
Growing in the shade: a lot of herbs prefer full sun, but there are plenty of plants that like the shade. During our hot, intense summers it is recommended to plant a lot of herbs in shadier areas so they don’t bolt to seed so quickly and grow thicker and lusher. When the air temperature and soil temperature start to decline the herbs will grow much better in sunnier positions in your garden or patio area. If you are looking for plants under 1 metre in height there are many to choose from, such as Alpine Strawberry, Bergamot, Brooklime, Celery Herb, Chervil, Feverfew, Lady’s Mantle, Valerian, Herb Robert, Bacopa, just to name a few. The Garden Centre has many varieties to select from.
When water is sparse, many areas of Australia are prone to drought and the use of water in the garden can be restricted. In order to have a successful herb garden mulch heavily to take advantage of any rainfall and plant herbs that grow well in dry conditions.
Tall plants for dry places include Bay Trees, Rosemary and Lemon Verbena. For smaller plants look towards Aloe, Betony, Dill, Garlic Chives, Sage, Thyme, Summer Savoury and Tarragon.
If your garden is damp, having muddy patches in your garden is not always ideal. Put in some moisture loving herbs and maybe a pond in which some herbs love. Water plants in a pond can be very successful for certain species. Some of these favourites are Watercress, Vietnamese Mint, Bacopa, Blue Flag, Brooklime, Gotu Kola, Mint, Nasturtiums, Herb Robert, and many more. Make sure you maintain water levels in hot weather.
If you are in the tropics? Most of the herbs used in Western Herbal Medicine are from cooler climates. Some seem to adapt well to the sub-tropical and even tropical areas of Australia, but sometimes certain environmental adjustments which can be made in your own garden to help the plants grow to their most optimum. Extreme heat and excessive moisture are tropical conditions you have to consider. This year is seeing many parts of the south east corner of Queensland suffer badly from a lack of rainfall which in turn is having an effect on how we’ve normally tackled our gardening procedures. Appropriate drainage is of utmost importance. Herbs cannot grow in a tropical garden without excellent drainage. In order to achieve this you can raise your herb garden off the ground to allow the water to drain out. For tall plants look to Allspice, Fennel, Ginger & Lemongrass, Turmeric, Hyssop, and Yerba Mate. Shorter species could include Basil, Chamomile, Chilli, Curry Plant, Italian Parsley, Thai Coriander and Perennial Coriander.
You will learn as you go and you will experience success and some failures in your garden. Simple things like growing mint in a pot which is buried in your garden can help to keep it moist, and vigorous without it becoming a run-away pest. With its underground rhizomes, mint can spread to many areas of your garden becoming a pest at times. Mint is an essential in any garden so having it growing to its optimum, and in the best position is one of the first things you should be preparing for and putting into your herb garden. You gain experience over the years and with it there is always new knowledge. There are so many different uses for medicinal and culinary herbs. You will always be wanting to integrate new herbs into your garden to accommodate for the latest use you have discovered.
Enjoy the amazing and rewarding journey of having your own herb garden.