The thing to remember about Western Australia is that it's predominantly a Mediterranean climate at least below the Tropic of Capricorn. So taking a look at any Greek or Italian gardeners backyard will show you a big group of hardy, and often perennial, herbs you should always have on hand. If you don’t have the luxury of a Nona down the street I’ll give you a list of must-haves and how to grow for all of them. All herbs prefer well-draining soil often enjoying rocky or even sandy soil. They are often not fussy which make them great for the garden. They do particularly well in vertical gardens for the most part but don’t like being waterlogged (unless it's Gotu kola). That will do happily in your fish pond so long as part of it is above the water.
I’ve created a list of some of the best herbs to grow. Their inclusion is based on many factors some for the ease of growth. Others because they taste better fresh than dried and often much cheaper to grow or buy. In alphabetical order with some cultivation or handy notes see below:
The Bay is a handsome, slow-growing shrub to a small tree which grows well in pots. It is prone to scale so keep in a well-ventilated area. Bay leaves are used in many dishes and are one of the ingredients in a bouquet garni.
Basil plants can grow up to one metre and are a great companion for tomatoes and roses.
Although it is not strictly a herb, it is a great addition to any herb garden and is generally easy to grow. Buy one that is fruiting and don’t try to be brave and eat the Carolina Reaper.
Chives create an attractive edging for your garden with all parts of the plant being edible including the flowers. Garlic chives are the same as chives but with flat strappy leaves.
Chamomile is great in lawns or as a ground cover. Be careful as bindii can look like chamomile so be certain that’s what you have.
If you are part of the 50% of the population that likes it, coriander is easy to grow and basically takes the same treatment as parsley. It will cross-pollinate with parsley so keep them well apart from if you want to save the seeds.
Comfrey is used for medicinal external use only. It is good for sprains etc and great in the compost bin. It has handsome large leaves and blue flowers on spikes.
These are not the same but are exactly the same for cultivation. With both requiring plenty of water and lots of sun and all parts of the plants can be eaten.
Divide a clove, plant it and wait around 8-12 months and you can dig up enough garlic for a year
Water regularly and keep away from frost. The same goes for Turmeric. It can be grown but needs TLC in Perth.
Remember pampas grass? This grows just like it but unlike pampas grass, lemongrass is useful. It has clumping roots and tender shoots which are mainly eaten but the strap-like leaves are great in tea. It is also a base for citronella essential oil
Mint needs to be watered regularly. It is invasive so keep it in a pot unless you have plenty of space. There are lots of different varieties and the recommended ones are granny’s old fashioned or spearmint.
Both the same plant but different varieties, with marjoram being a bit milder. They produce a large spreading ground cover. Plant Greek oregano and golden marjoram but keep them well apart.
Parsley will tend to bolt if it’s not picked regularly. The curly variety is less likely to, but if it is left to seed it can naturalise in the garden which is great.
Rosemary grows as a large upright bush. It is great for bees and butterflies as well as seasoning a lamb roast.
Sage grows in an attractive ground hugging clump. It is easy to grow and harvest and great for seasoning dishes.
There are hundreds of varieties of thyme and each provides a creeping, hugging ground cover.
Vietnamese mint is not the same as regular mint but has the same growing requirements.
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