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

 


When British explorer, Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay, Australia in 1770 the Gwyeagal people inhabited the land around Botany Bay at that time. The Aboriginal people had a deep knowledge of native edible and medicinal plants passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years. They shared some of their secret knowledge with Captain Cook and his party, including botanist, Joseph Banks. The British spent a great deal of time studying and experimenting with the native botanicals. Melaleuca alternifolia and Melaleuca quinquenervia were amongst the plants studied and sketched by botanist, Joseph Banks.

Approximately 230 species of Melaleuca are indigenous to Australia and vary, depending on the species, from small shrubs to 30 metre tall trees. Melaleuca alternifolia is indigenous to northern New South Wales and Queensland and now most of the commercial Tea Tree comes from this region and this species. Melaleuca quinquenervia is indigenous to the East coast of New South Wales and Queensland usually along watercourses and swamps.

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia) are members of the Myrtaceae plant family and are related to myrtle, clove, and eucalyptus. Although in the same family Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) should not be confused with Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Tea Tree has needle-like leaves whilst Niaouli is commonly known as broadleaf paperbark. However, both varieties have strong medicinal qualities and similar chemical properties. Tea tree oil has highly effective antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It is great for acne, athlete’s foot, contact dermatitis or head lice.

The Aboriginal people of Australia had multiple uses for Melaleuca quinquenervia. The bark was peeled off in layers and is used for shelter, bedding, containers, storing and cooking food, fire tinder, watercraft, fish traps and wrapping the deceased. In traditional medicine, an infusion from leaves was drunk, inhaled or used for bathing to treat coughs, colds, congestion, headache, fever, and influenza. Today…Melaleuca quinquenervia is known for its strong antiseptic and stimulating qualities. It is still extensively used to clear infections such as bronchitis, catarrh, and sinus, as well as acne, boils, burns, ulcers and cuts. It is known for its analgesic, antiseptic, bactericide, insecticide, decongestant and ability to treat intestinal worms.