Spring DownUnder – Time to Plant Medicinal Herbs

I’m beginning to gather my annual and perennial medicinal herbs to plant out in my garden and/or in pots. In the photo above (left) I have comfrey, viola, calendula, mint varieties, Herb Robert, yacon, and nasturtiums ready to plant. In the pots, I have strawberries and lavender. Below are pictures of my herb garden, comfrey, and Herb Robert.

I like to plant mint and comfrey in pots as both of these species can take over the garden very quickly if left to their own devices. Comfrey will re-grow from the most minuscule piece of root left under the earth. A trick I’ve used in the past is to plant them in good sized pots, dig a hole in my garden and put the whole pot, with the plant potted inside into the hole. This method prevents the roots from escaping and the plant taking over the garden. They then become part of the herb garden and stay within their boundaries.

My little herb garden has been fertilised, mulched and left over winter. It’s now ready to plant out. This garden gets lots of sun in the summer so I have another little garden space for shade-loving plants like Herb Robert (above). My climate is sub-tropical, therefore the herbs I’m planting grow well in this climate. It is best to do some planning and figure out which plants will be happy planted in your garden bed and which ones would prefer a pot outside or even inside on the kitchen windowsill. I planted my lavender in a pot so I can control how much water it gets. Lavender does not particularly like the humid, sub-tropical climate or wet feet. My strawberries are in pots on the edge of my garden bed as strawberries are another plant that spreads rapidly and takes over. I only have a small herb garden so I have to plan it out well. I like to have a low maintenance, easy to manage garden. Everything comes down to how much space is available in your garden and what you choose to plant. It is important not to overcrowd the garden and to leave space for each plant to stay healthy and to grow to its optimum size…especially if you are using the plant medicinally.

Companion planting is also something I like to do. I know that nasturtiums and calendula like kale so I will plant a few kale plants with them. I’ve learned that kale isn’t keen on strawberries so I will keep the strawberry pots well away from the kale. Mint is good around cabbage and tomatoes but not parsley or chamomile. Lemon balm is often called bee balm as it attracts bees that pollinate other plants in the garden. Check out companion planting as a diverse mix of plants that are compatible makes for a healthy and beautiful herb garden.

Nature’s Creation Book and Cards have lots of good information about many of the available herbs and how to use them medicinally. www.naturescreation.biz