Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

Memory plant

April 25, 2015

This is Bacopa monnieri, otherwise known as Brahmi or Water Hyssop :

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It’s a creeping perennial with small oblong leaves and purple flowers, found in warm wetlands, and native to Australia and India. The entire plant is used medicinally especially in India and it’s supposed to enhance memory, specifically the  ability to retain new information. Here’s a link to a study that was done.

My plant is in a 15 cm pot and I keep it on one of my rainwater collecting bins (a 60 litre rubbish bin, with the lid turned upside down and a hole drilled in the centre). Because we’ve had good rain, the bin is full and the level of the water has filled the lid, so the pot is sitting in water :

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The growth tends to cascade over the side and has entered the water where it’s put down roots :

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I can cut off the rooted pieces and pot them up to make new plants. Wish all plants were as easy to propagate!

I harvest Brahmi by snipping off the growth ends with scissors, chopping finely and adding to omelets or scrambled eggs, but it can be added to anything you like. I don’t know if the memory improvement bit is working or not, but it’s something else I can grow that I can eat.

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Autumn photos

April 8, 2013

‘Twas a chilly autumn morning and the camera and I went for a walk.

This is wormwood planted outside the chook run. I love the silvery, ferny foliage. Such a contrast to the usual greens. I have more plants in other parts of the garden. When I prune them back I put it through the mulcher and spread it in the Girl’s nestbox. It’s supposed to deter insects. It certainly has a very medicinal smell:

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A wicking box with a newly-planted pepino. Those seedlings all around it are amaranth (there’s a single bok choy there, too). Normally the amaranth self-seeds in the food forest. When it’s finished flowering (and I’ve collected as much seed as I can), I mulch it up and add it to the compost. Seedlings come up in everything that gets topped up with compost. I’ll probably pick some of these and dry them for winter use. At the moment I’m using them as a garnish on soups, in omelets and with other steamed greens:

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I have a tub on the deck with one strawberry in it. It’s been flowering for ages and producing delicious fruit. I used to rant about those huge supermarket strawberries and say they weren’t normal and now this plant is producing fruits equally as huge. I think it likes the chook poo compost I put on it. I’ve put a wire cage around the tub. Birds don’t come onto the deck very often, but bright red treats like this will bring them from miles around:

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The bags of cow poo I was given recently have finally all made it into one of the compost bins. I’ll add worms from the worm farm and let them go through it and make it more friable:

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Now that we’ve had rain, the oca has really kicked on:

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This is mizuna. The chooks love it and there’s generally enough left for me, too. Pretty foliage:

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Broccoli and kale in a wicking box:

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More kale and senposai in a wicking tub:

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This is chicory. I grow it for greens for the Girls. I don’t eat it because I usually have plenty of other greens:

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Not the most elegant parsnips in the world, but the best I’ve grown so far:

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Giving Lemon Balm a haircut

October 22, 2012

There’s no doubt in my mind that lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a weed very successful plant.

Being a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), means it spreads by underground runners and can eventually cover large areas. It also self-seeds quite well and that’s how most of mine has spread to different places.

It has its good points, though. Listed in permaculture circles as a dynamic accumulator, it can be cut regularly and used as a nutrient-rich mulch on garden beds (preferably without seed heads). It’s dormant through the winter and grows again in spring. It’s rocketing away at the moment:

That’s a comfrey plant in the centre, struggling to get its leaves into the light.

I continually cut back the lemon balm through the spring & summer and either put it through the mulcher for mulch or compost, throw it straight into the compost, or just leave it lying on the ground in the food forest to break down there. I use hedge clippers. No noisy, fossil fuel burning whippersnippers will ever be used on this property! Hello comfrey!:

I’m using the chopped stems to build up the extension to my new hugelkultur bed:

I’ll always leave some to flower because it’s very attractive to bees. New seedlings coming up where I don’t want them can always be pulled out and unwanted established clumps can be sheet-mulched out of existence. It’s too valuable to not have in the garden.

Oh, and it makes a nice cup of herbal tea, too!

Basil seed mats…update

October 20, 2011

I’m going to start potting up the basil seedlings so thought I’d post a final photo of how they went. The first post on the subject is here.

This is how they looked today, 5 weeks after sowing:

Before I sowed the seed mats, I’d already sowed basil in the normal way and these were potted up a week ago:

There’s 24 seedlings there. I added another 16 today and there’s still more to be potted up.

I can see jars and jars of delicious pesto in the distance!

The girls love grated carrot so I sowed a huge patch of carrot seed today:

This prickly little guy turned up in the bush yesterday. It’s good to see that some of the native animals are still present:

Basil seed mats

September 30, 2011

After discovering home-made basil pesto last summer, I was determined to grow as much basil as I could this season.

Normally I don’t use basil much—just plant it with tomatoes as a companion—but this pesto (recipe follows) is to die for.

Always on the lookout for new propagation techniques, I spied Fothergill seed packets at Bunnings recently, featuring basil ‘seed mats’.

There are 5 to a packet and each seed mat is a circle of double tissue, 8 cm in diameter, impregnated with about 30 basil seeds. The idea is to place the mat on the top of a similar sized pot, cover lightly with soil or potting mix and keep moist. Result: a pot of basil, ideal to plant into the garden or give as a gift (five good Christmas gifts).

I put 3 of the mats in a seed tray in sieved potting mix, and didn’t cover them, but kept them moist with a hand sprayer. Because the weather was still cool, I put the tray on the heated propagating mat inside, in a sunny window. I intend to pot up the individual seedlings for planting in a wicking box.

They germinated in 7 days and here’s what they look like 2 weeks after sowing:

They’re still coming up, so the germination rate isn’t too bad. It’s an easy way to sow seed which doesn’t result in a mass of crowded seedlings and the risk of damping off. I wish more seed suppliers would do this.

Basil Pesto

2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Blend all except the cheese in a food processor, then stir in the cheese by hand.
Store in the refrigerator.
Keep a thin layer of olive oil on top to stop the basil darkening.

Enjoy!