Saturday, 31 August 2013

How to Make Herbal Infusions, Decoctions and Tinctures

How to Make Herbal Infusions, Decoctions and Tinctures

Music: Enya - Athair Ar Neamh

Herbal Infusions

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Dandelion & violet infusion

A medicinal herbal infusion is much more potent than a herbal tea. While herbal teas are made like ordinary tea, with 1-2 teaspoons of herb per cup, brewed for a few minutes, an infusion is made with ½ - 1 oz dried herb to 2 pints of water, and brewed for several hours or overnight.

Herbal infusions are much more beneficial and powerful than taking herbal extracts, because they contain elements of the whole plant, instead of the active constituents being isolated and weakened.

It is best to infuse one kind of herb on its own, rather than mixing different herbs. A container with a tight lid is better for retaining the essences than a teapot. Glass jars with a screw top lid can be used, if you warm the jar first.


Place about a cupful of herb into a warmed two pint jar, fill to the top with boiling water and seal tightly. Leave to brew for a minimum of 4 hours for leaf infusions, 2 hours for flowers.

Strain off the liquid, press out the last drops, and pour the liquid into a jar or bottle. Keep refrigerated and use within a day and a half. If there is any left over, use it to feed your plants, or to condition your hair. The discarded herbs make good compost for your herb garden.

A popular herbal infusion is made from dandelion leaves. It is used as a medicine for systemic cleansing, immune system building, and liver strengthening. Drink a cupful two or three times a day. Medicinal infusions are sometimes made from flowers such as violet or honeysuckle.

Simple Decoctions

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Pestle and mortar

This method is used for hard herbs such as hard seeds, roots, rhizomes, bark, wood and berries. It produces a water extract that may be drunk on its own, or made into syrups, gargles and compresses. It can also be added to baths, oils and creams.


30g/ 1 oz dried herb.

500ml/ 1 pint water.


1. Crush or bruise the herbs in a pestle and mortar.

2. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water.

3. Cover with a lid and leave to stand overnight.

4. Place both the herbs and the water in an enamel pan. Top up the liquid to 500ml/ 1 pint to replace water that has soaked in.

5. Bring to the boil slowly then reduce the heat to a low simmer.

6. Keep covered with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

7. Strain through a muslin cloth in a strainer, coffee filter paper or jelly bag, pressing out all the liquid. Discard the herbs and use for garden compost.

This decoction will keep for 2-3 days and can be taken undiluted.

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Reduced Decoctions

To make a reduced decoction, heat the strained liquid gently until it begins to steam. Keep covered with a lid. Turn down the heat very low and continue to steam for about 1 ½ hours until the liquid has reduced to 250ml/ ¼ pint. This will keep for 4-5 days in a cool place.

Decoctions can be reduced still further to a thick extract - about 20ml/ 1 tablespoon, which will keep for months.

Preserved Decoctions

There are three methods which will preserve decoctions indefinitely:

1. Add 450g/ 1 lb honey or sugar to 200ml/ 7 fl oz of decoction. Dose: Take 1 teaspoonful 3 times a day.

2. Add spirits such as brandy or vodka at 1 part spirit to 2 parts decoction. Dose: Take 50ml/ 2 fl oz/ ¼ cup 2 times a day.

3. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil on the surface of the decoction and seal. This will keep for about a year. To use, either draw off the oil or pour the decoction from under it. Dose: Take ½ - 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.

Herbal Tinctures

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Black walnut in vodka for tincture

Tinctures are produced by extracting and preserving the medicinal constituents of the herb in alcohol. Tinctures are longer lasting, more potent and fast acting than water based preparations. Sometimes only a drop under the tongue is needed to be effective. Some plant alkaloids are only soluble in alcohol. However, water based preparations have the advantage when ingestion of plant nutrients is required. The nutrients found in wild plants sustain the body's self-healing abilities.

For each 600ml/1 pint/2 ½ cups alcoholic liquid (including water) use 25 g/1 oz dried herb or 50g/2 oz fresh herb.


30g/ 1 oz dried herbs.

400ml/ 14 fl oz/ 1 ¾ cup vodka or brandy.

170 ml/ 6 fl oz/ 12 tablespoons water.


1. Chop or bruise the herb and mix the spirit and water together.

2. Place the herbs in a large jar and add the spirit and water.

3. Label and date the jar and leave to stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks only. Shake the jar vigorously every day.

4. After two weeks strain through a muslin cloth in a strainer, jelly bag or coffee filter paper, pressing out every drop.

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Filtering sediment out of tincture

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Jewelweed tincture

5. Pour the liquid into sterilized glass bottles, preferably dark in colour.

6. Label the bottles with the name of the tincture, the date, dosage and use.

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Dark brown 100ml screw top bottles

(Bottles can be boiled, sterilized in a pressure cooker or soaked in a bottle sterilizing liquid).

A standard dose of tincture is 1 teaspoonful 3 times a day, double this for acute conditions. If you are unable to take alcohol, put the dose in 50ml/ 2 fl oz/ ¼ cup water and leave uncovered for a few hours while the alcohol evaporates.

For gargles, washes and compresses, dilute 1 teaspoon of tincture to 1 cup of water. Tinctures keep indefinitely.

Tonic Wines and Spirits

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You can add herbs such as rosemary, and spices such as cardamom and cloves to bottles of wine.

Use 25g/ 1 oz herbs and 50g/ 2 oz spices to 2 litres/ 3 ½ pints/ 7 ½ cups red or white wine, or blend 2 parts spirits to 1 part water.

Make as a tincture. Take 50 ml/ 2 fl oz/ ¼ cup twice a day. Dilute if required.

Tonic wines may be used as an aperitif 20 minutes before meals.

How To Make Herbal Teas

How To Make Herbal Teas

Music: Maire Brennan ( Clannad ) Ce Leis

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Healthy Herbal Brews

Herbal teas make healthy alternatives to tea and coffee, and are also excellent food and medicines. You can suit your choice of tea to your mood, health needs and taste. A popular herbal tea is chamomile, which has a calming effect. Other herbs are stimulants such as rosemary and thyme. Many herbs are uplifting, mood enhancing, and help with digestion.

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Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

There are many varieties of herbal tea bags available, but the tea tastes much better if you grow your own herbs or harvest wild herbs. You can use them fresh or dry them and keep them in air tight jars. That way you can mix and make your own tea blends. There are many places where you can buy pure, organic herbs and seeds.

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Sage (Salvia officinalis)

There are different views about how much herb should be used in a tea and how long it should be brewed. It all depends on taste and purpose. Use about 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup; triple the quantity if fresh herbs are used. (Note that herbal teas are not the same as herbal infusions. These are used where stronger medicinal effects are required).

Some say you should let the tea brew for 10-15 minutes before drinking, however, lengthy brewing produces an excess of tannins. 4-6 minutes is long enough to develop flavour, without getting too cold or stewed. (Medicinal infusions are usually steeped for several hours).

Uplifting Tonics

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Common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Herbs that make excellent tea include: peppermint -- a good digestive; blackcurrant leaves -- for acidity and arthritis; catnip -- a nerve tonic, digestive and promotes a good night’s sleep; rosemary-- a mental stimulant, for headaches; lemon balm -- uplifting tonic and digestive; nettles -- highly nutritious; sage -- digestive and hormonal balancer; and lemon verbena -- simply gorgeous. Berries such as juniper, saw palmetto, or rosehips, are great tonics - hawthorn is a specific heart tonic.


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Fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)

You can also make tea with seeds -- roughly crush them first with a pestle and mortar. Fennel, celery, dill, anise, caraway seeds and cardamom pods help indigestion, flatulence and lung congestion, and add flavour to other teas.


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Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Flowers make delicious herbal teas: try chamomile -- soothing and calming; pot marigolds -- for a clear skin; or elderflowers to promote perspiration for a fever. Linden blossom, dandelion flowers, rosemallow (hibiscus), and red clover all have good flavours and healing properties.

Making Blends

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Cardamom pods (Elettaria cardamomum)

You might prefer to use a single herb, or to experiment with blends of herbs. You can enhance the flavour of herbs such as valerian root by adding a little peppermint or lemon balm. The taste of sage on its own is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it combines well with basil, lemon balm, blackcurrant leaves or thyme.

Try adding some crushed cardamom pods to a blend. Cardamom is warming, uplifting and helps in treatment for depression.

My Favourite Herbal Tea

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Lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora)

My favourite herbal tea is lemon verbena - a very refreshing and relaxing tea with a lovely lemon taste. It blends well with mild tasting herbs such as herb Robert, or nettles. It looks beautiful growing in the garden, and has a gorgeous taste.

I hope I have inspired you to grow some herbs, or go and pick some wild herbs, flowers and seeds to make some healthy, tasty brews!

Have fun!

How To Make Alternative Teas

How To Make Alternative Teas

Music: English tea - Paul McCartney

Alternative Tea

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Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Drinking alternative tea is a good way to switch from ordinary tea to herbal tea, as it tastes very similar to imported tea. In Britain during the war when black tea was scarce, alternatives were made with blends of leaves that are rich in tannin: blackcurrant leaves, sage, lemon balm, raspberry leaves and hawthorn leaves.


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Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

The flavour of tea results from the tannin content of the leaves. The best teas are made from herbs with a high tannin content such as lady's mantle, strawberry leaves, raspberry leaves, blackberry leaves, blackcurrant leaves, and rosebay willow herb.


The aroma and flavour of tea is enhanced by fermentation:

1. Pick herbs as they begin to flower and leave them in the shade for 12-24 hours, so they wilt but do not dry out. You need a large quantity to ferment well.

2. Spread them in thin layers with a rolling pin to bruise the leaves.

3. Fold the leaves in a cloth.

4. Store the cloth in a warm place for 24-48 hours.

5. Dry the leaves away from sunlight, in trays or paper.

Alternative Ceylon Tea

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Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

The main bulk of this tea is made up of hawthorn leaves, with smaller amounts of sage, lemon balm, woodruff, and blackcurrant leaves for flavour. Dried blackcurrant leaves don't have the same pungent aroma as the fresh leaves.

English Tea

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Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)

The major part is made up of blackcurrant leaves (or blackberry leaves) and sage, with minor parts of hawthorn leaves, lemon balm and woodruff.

Thé d'Europe

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Heath Speedwell - Gypsy Weed (Veronica officinalis)

This tea is made from fermented common or heath speedwell -- used as a tea substitute in 19th Century France.

Moorland Tea

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Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Heather tops and flowers make up the main bulk of this tea with lesser amounts of dried bilberry leaves, blackberry leaves, wild strawberry leaves, speedwell and thyme. Alternative Ceylon, English, Moorland teas, and Thé d'Europe are all made using the fermenting method described above.

Make Your Own Blends

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Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)

You can experiment and make your own blends. For example, mix blackberry, strawberry and raspberry leaves with a dash of peppermint or thyme for extra flavour; raspberry, blackberry and rosebay willow; or lady’s mantle and raspberry leaves flavoured with peppermint.Take care to use strong aromatic herbs such as thyme or peppermint sparingly in tea as they can be overpowering.

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Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

Some other herbs that work well in alternative teas are: herb Robert - blends well with lemon balm and blackcurrant; white deadnettle leaves and flowers; nettles, goose grass (cleavers --related to woodruff); catnip, wood betony, chickweed, meadowsweet, and orange mint (also known as bergamot mint and eau-de-cologne mint).

Be creative!

© 2011 Martha Magenta

Source for fermenting tea:

The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, Malcolm Stuart (Ed), 1979, Orbis Publishing Ltd, London.

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Thursday, 29 August 2013

How To Harvest And Preserve Herbs

How To Harvest And Preserve Herbs

Music by Clannad - Celtic Myst


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It’s a good idea to preserve quantities of herbs so you have abundant supplies during the winter months for teas, remedies and cooking.

The ideal time to harvest herbs for medicinal use is just as they begin to flower. For culinary use, herbs may be gathered in the morning after the dew has evaporated, before the sun gets hot. The best time for yielding the highest levels of active constituents is in the early evening. The phases of the moon can have significant effects on the magical properties of herbs.

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Pick only the tops of the plants so they will continue to grow. If you gather herbs outside of your garden, pick herbs that have not been sprayed with chemicals -- avoid farmland and roadside verges. The best places are derelict land, commons, heaths, moors and woodlands. Only pick herbs that grow in abundance -- there are laws protecting threatened species.

It is important to put only one kind of herb in a basket when harvesting, so they don't get mixed up. Keep herbs separate and clearly labelled. It is best not to wash the herbs.

Three Easy Ways To Dry Herbs

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1. Hang bundles of herbs tied with string upside down, away from sunlight. You may wish to cover them with paper or paper bags to prevent bits falling and protect them from dust.

2. Spread the herbs out on trays, in tiers in an airy room, away from sunlight. Cover the trays with fine muslin or paper to protect from dust.

3. My favourite method for drying small herbs or tops is to put bunches, or cropped herb tops, loosely into paper bags, or envelopes - from junk mail. Write the name of the herb on the bag, make a few small air holes around the top, and hang them on hooks in a dark, airy place for a few weeks. An airing cupboard is ideal; or hang the bags with paper clips from a string. This way the herbs are protected from light, dust, spiders and pets. This method takes up the least space, which is important if you dry a lot of herbs.

Airtight Jars

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Whatever method you use, turn the herbs once or twice so they dry evenly. Let them dry naturally away from any direct heat or light. When they are dry enough to crumble in your hand, put them into airtight jars and label them. Keep the jars in a cool dark place, or use dark jars, or cover the jars with dark paper. Take care that the herbs are absolutely dry before putting them in jars or they will go mouldy.

Most cultivated and wild herbs can be dried and will preserve their essential oils and flavour well. I dry enough culinary herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage, mint, bay, marjoram and thyme to last all winter. For herbal teas, lemon balm, blackcurrant, raspberry and strawberry leaves and flowers such as marigolds and chamomile can be dried too. I also dry wild herbs such as dandelions, coltsfoot, nettles and goose grass (cleavers), which I put in teas, infusions, soups and curries.

Freezing Herbs

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Some herbs don’t keep their flavour so well when dried such as basil, and fines herbes: parsley, tarragon, fennel, dill, chervil and chives. These are best put into the freezer or ice compartment of the fridge for culinary uses.
Frozen basil is wonderful to flavour your spaghetti sauce in the winter. Any herbs that need to be washed are best frozen rather than dried.

Herbs for freezing should be picked off the stems and put in plastic bags. Or if you prefer, you can chop herbs like parsley and dill and put them in little foil packages ready for cooking, or mix them with water and freeze them in ice cube containers. I like to make lots of pesto, which freezes well (without cheese). Besides basil, I often include other herbs such as marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, rocket or even some spinach in pesto -- whatever is available at the time. Try making pesto with chives and parsley instead of basil - it goes well with baked potatoes and vegetables. You can use pesto with potatoes, rice, soups and pasta.


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Once herbs go to seed, the flavour goes to the seeds, so it’s best to keep the sun-dried seeds, such as dill, coriander or fennel seeds, for flavour and nutrition. Keep the seeds covered in a dry place for two weeks before putting into jars.

© 2011 Martha Magenta

Images from top to bottom:

1. Martha Magenta's kitchen herb garden; 2. Chamomile;

3. Fresh herbs drying; 4. Jars of herbs & spices; 5.Chives;

Natural Healing With Herbs

Music: Smaointe by Enya

Natural Healing With Herbs

Herbs are nature's gifts of life, health, nourishment and beauty. They are there for everyone to enjoy. They should not be confined to the laboratories of the 'experts'.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Marshmallow Althaea officinalis

Long before the recording of history or the invention of science, people gathered wild herbs and cultivated them in herb gardens. Despite attempts by political establishments to suppress and outlaw the use of herbs, much of what we know today has been preserved and inherited from our earliest ancestors.

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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Our knowledge of herbs as medicines, food, drinks, flavouring, and beauty products belongs to the people and cannot be controlled or owned by big industries that claim to be authorities on the use of herbs. Nor can it be suppressed by pharmaceutical companies.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian Valeriana officinalis

There have been scare stories about bad side effects of herbs, but these effects have been caused by concentrated extracts of active constituents taken in isolation from other parts of the herb. It is unnatural to take herbs in that way. The natural way to take herbs is as a whole plant, and as part of a normal diet.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
Lady's Mantle Alchemilla vulgaris

Care should be taken to identify herbs gathered in the wild. There are many websites that give clear images and details to help identify herbs and poisonous plants.

Rose Hips Rosa canina

Legislation will restrict the availability of herbal supplements. That is no loss when you can experience the magic of real herbs. You can do so much more with real herbs than capsules! You can learn how to make herbal teas, infusions, decoctions, tinctures, infused oils for salads and massage, herbal vinegars and all sorts of culinary delights. You can also make your own natural remedies, for instance to stop smoking, lose weight, or cure colds or stomach ulcers. You can also make your own natural beauty products. Explore the resources below to find out more about how to use wild and domestic herbs.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red clover Trifolium pratense

© 2011 Martha Magenta

Useful Resources

Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

How To Grow An Organic Herb Garden

How to grow an organic herb garden

Music: A Path To Solitude by Dan Gibson


There are few activities more rewarding than growing an herb garden. There are countless things that you can do with fresh, frozen and dried herbs, including culinary and medicinal uses, and many arts and crafts. You can even make your own health and beauty products. And if you like herbs you will find they are very willing to grow for you. I love my herb garden. I can go out there every day and get something fresh and organic to eat, drink or to use in cooking and salads. I store up abundant harvests of dried and frozen herbs to last all winter. All the while the beauty and aromatic smells of wonderful herbs surround me.

Formal herb garden


There are two basic types of herb garden -- formal and informal. To grow a classic formal herb garden requires a good deal of open space and hard work. It is an attractive way to put a large patch of unused ground to good use. Formal herb gardens are symmetrical and divided into sections by neatly clipped box hedging in a designed pattern. If you want a formal herb garden, you need to plan carefully before you start. Read a book on how to plan and create a formal herb garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society 'Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses' gives well-illustrated formal herb garden designs.

Informal herb garden


My style of herb gardening is of the informal kind. I like to work with nature rather than impose a pre-ordained plan. That way I don't miss out on the abundance of natures gifts -- the wild herbs that grow so easily. Besides, herbs have a way of growing where they want to and not always where you want them.

When I moved into a city cottage, I found the garden hard, stony and small. One day, when I was struggling to dig through the hardcore, a neighbour called out: "You'll never get anything to grow there!" How wrong he was! Herbs will readily grow where many other plants won't. My garden today is stuffed full of the foliage and flowers of herbs!


Include some fruit, vegetables and flowers that you like.


Blackcurrant Ribes nigrum

It is a good idea to have some easy-to-grow food supplies. My herb garden is enhanced in summer by colourful runner beans growing up the wall, and yellow trumpets of courgette flowers reaching for the morning sun. I also have tomatoes, rhubarb, spinach, pak choi, cress, cabbages, and a blackcurrant bush that gives me lots of nutritious fruit and delicious leaves for herbal teas.


Marigold Calendula officinalis

It's your herb garden so put what you like in it. Add some colourful flowers to attract bees. Pot marigolds (the calendula variety) truly belong in an herb garden. Use attractive shrubs and roses for a backdrop or hedge. If you have a rock garden you can grow assorted thymes amongst alpines.

Wild Herbs


Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

You will probably find valuable herbs growing naturally in your garden, such as dandelions, nettles, herb Robert, cleavers, chickweed and plantain. Instead of seeing them as weeds and digging them out, reserve space for them to grow. Dandelions have many uses: they can be used as greens, in salads, oils and vinegars, and the flowers make a nice addition to herbal tea; herb Robert is decorative and also useful in teas, so cut and dry it; gather in the cleavers too and dry them so they don't choke your herbs; chickweed is best cut regularly while tender and used in salads or as greens.


Nettle Urtica dioica

Allow nettles to grow, using just the tops, then cut them right down before they go to seed and dry them. This way you will have a supply of nettles each year and they will grow again in spring. These wild plants are all excellent food sources and remedies.

Growing herbs in containers and pots


Many herbs grow happily in large terracotta pots. This is a good idea if you have a small space, patio or courtyard. Some herbs prefer this protection from the elements and garden predators. Pots look attractive in brackets on a wall. You can use an old porcelain sink (stand it on bricks near the door), teapots, bathtubs, barrels, troughs and wheelbarrows. I have even seen a colourful herb garden grown in an old convertible car!


Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus

You can create more space with terraced raised beds. Climbing and trailing plants such as nasturtiums, sweetbriar rose, honeysuckle and hops look attractive climbing up trellises, walls, pillars and frames. From these you can hang baskets with herbs such as marjoram, thyme, and pennyroyal trailing over the sides. Make sure the plants are regularly watered so they don't dry out.


Bay Tree Laurus nobilis

I started my herb garden with a few of my favourite herbs in small pots that I bought from the garden centre -- oregano, sage, a bay tree, and two rosemary bushes. As they grew I potted them on. Now the rosemary bushes form part of the hedge, providing continual fresh herb and an abundant supply of dried rosemary for the winter. I have propagated the bay tree from cuttings, so now I have three. I divided the oregano so it grows in a pot and in the ground so it can spread. Along the hedge with the rosemary grow lavender, marjoram, lemon balm, hawthorn and blackcurrants.


Lemon verbena Aloysia triphylla

In the next row I have pots containing chives, winter savoury, sage, bay, marigolds, and lemon verbena. In front of those, on the ground I have thyme, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, rocket, bergamot mint, prunella, and strawberries. The woody plants such as rosemary, lemon verbena, bay and sage continue to grow year after year. The mints, chamomile, self-heal, thyme, lemon balm and oregano are perennials and grow every year. Some herbs such as basil, dill, parsley and chervil need to be re-sown from seed each year.

Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis)

Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis

Growing herbs from Seed

Many herbs are easy to grow from seed, such as marjoram, oregano, thyme, dill, parsley, basil and rocket. Start the seeds in spring in small pots of clean,organic compost in a sunny windowsill. Keep them well watered and protected from the cold. As they grow pot them on into bigger pots.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano Oreganum vulgare

After the frosts, plant the marjoram, oregano, thyme and rocket outside. First soak the plants so they slide out of the pots easily. Dig holes deep enough to fully cover the roots, add a little compost, and firm the soil gently around the roots. Water well in. You might want to plant herbs in outdoor pots to protect them from slugs and snails.

Garden Compost


Save all your cuttings, weeds, household waste, peelings and vacuum cleaner contents and put them in a compost bin or heap. It is essential to recycle this goodness so that your plants and the soil they grow in get fed as well as watered. My garden is organic, so I never use any artificial chemical fertilisers, weed killers or chemical insecticides.


Wood Pigeon

While I work, or sit and enjoy my herb garden, I feel that I am receiving a wonderful healing as I listen to the beautiful song of the resident blackbird. There are a variety of different birds in the trees including great tits and a pair of nesting wood pigeons. From time to time squirrels come to visit. They scream and thrash their tails at the cats, and fly off again, leaping from branch to branch. This makes living in the city bearable. The trees give me a sense of permanence, while the concrete jungle of the city is transient.

No garden at all?

If you live in an apartment and have no garden at all, you can successfully grow most herbs on windowsills, balconies, window boxes or even the garage roof.


Growing herbs indoors

I have found that some herbs such as parsley, basil and chervil sometimes don't do so well outside due to slugs and insects. If this happens I keep the plants indoors in the window. This gives me a continual supply for cooking and salads. The basil does so well that I can freeze it and use it in soups and pesto during the winter.


Stand the pots on a windowsill, or a table next to the window, on trays or saucers of gravel for drainage. Make sure the plants get enough light and air. Feed them with plant food, mulch or compost from time to time. Before watering the herbs, allow the water to warm to room temperature. On hot days stand the plants back, so the heat of the sun does not burn them. Turn the pots around a little each day so the herbs grow evenly. The herbs can be used as they are growing by picking the tops of the plants. This makes them bush out and grow thicker and stronger.

Happy gardening!

© Martha Magenta

* 'Encylopedia of Herbs', The Royal Horticultural Society, Deni Bown, 1995, ISBN 0-7513-020-31, Dorling Kindersley, London.