Helpful Herb Hints from June Taylor and Kim Syrus

What a fun and informative evening we had with herb expert June Taylor, and Channel 9's In the Garden Presenter, Kim Syrus for our Spring Garden Night.  Both June and Kim are an absolute wealth of knowledge on gardening, and in June's case herbs in particular.    

In June's words 'There's a herb for every bug in your home and garden, and for your health'.  We have condensed June's tips into dot points below which we hope you will find helpful in your own garden and home.

LEMON SCENTED HERBS:  Herbs which smell of lemon are fabulous for deterring mosquitos.  Consider Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Scented Basil or Lemon Verbena.  Plant them, pick them, and crush the leaves.  

PENNYROYAL:  Pennyroyal is a fabulously natural way to deter house ants over summer.    Pick some Pennyroyal leaves and bring to the boil in a saucepan.  Remove from the boil and allow to steep.  Strain the liquid into a spray bottle - removing any solid particles and leaves so that they do not block your sprayer, and spray the solution on the ant trails to keep them out of your home.

LAVENDER:  A wonderful calmitive herb.  Fabulous for aiding sleep, or for use in the bath.    Dab Lavender Essential oil on mosquito bites for relief.  Grow lavender near your veggie beds - the flowers attract bees and beneficial insects, which will improve your pollination.    If you are looking to cook with Lavender be sure to use English Lavender.  Lavenders are best cut back after flowering to maintain a compact bush.  

TANSY:  Tansy is fabulous to deter flies from both your body and your home.  Pick some leaves and crush them between your fingers.  Wipe your fingers over your face and body, or if you are cooking up a summer roast, wipe the oils over your flyscreens to deter flies near your windows and doors.

GARLIC:  Garlic is the most powerful of all the herbs.  It is a natural antibiotic, and is known to lower cholesterol and is good for the heart among other things.  Garlic is very easy to grow and takes up very little space.  As a rule of thumb, plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, and harvest on the longest day of the year.    June talked briefly about the benefits of taking aged garlic tablets (Kyolic garlic) which is available from health food stores and pharmacies - Kyolic garlic is odourless. 

SAGE:  Sage is known as the herb for longevity.  Sage can be used to keep your liver healthy; can be gargled for a sore throat; and is said to whiten your teeth.  Sage is very easy to use - simply pick a few fresh leaves, pop them in a tea infuser.  Place the infuser in your cup and pour over water which is just off the boil - allow to steep and then drink.    Be sure to only use Salvia officinalis - there are hundreds of sage varieties.  Salvia officinalis is the only sage you can take internally.  

PARLSEY:  Parsley prefers a morning sun position, and works well in a self watering pot.  If you grow parsley in a hot afternoon sun aspect you will find it bolts to seed quickly.   Parsley is high in Vitamin A, B, C, D, Calcium, Magnesium and Iron, and is very good for the kidneys.    June picks a little each day and eats it raw.

ROSEMARY:  June shared the wonderful Rosemary Infused Basting oil she uses when cooking roasts.  Fill a sterilised jar with a light olive oil.  Add a handful of fresh rosemary springs, garlic, sage, thyme and a couple of chillies.  Put the lid on and leave the jar on a sunny windowsill to allow the oil to infuse.  Baste your roast with the oil for the most divine flavours and a moist roast.    Rosemary is also wonderful at deterring white flies from your veggie patch.  Simply pick some leaves, and scatter them beneath your herbs and veggies which are affected by white fly.  

THYME:  Plant thyme near your veggie patch - because it flowers prolifically it will bring bees, butterflies and beneficial insects to your patch.  Thyme is also known to be a very calmitive herb, and is excellent for coughs.  June is known for making a 'Thyme Tea' for her grandchildren when they have a cough.  Steep some time in an infuser, adding a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little honey.  

DILL:  Dill (and Fennel) is a fabulous herb to aid digestion.  Steep some leaves in an infuser and drink.  It is also an excellent herb to use with fatty foods, is easy to grow and self seeds readily.

OREGANO:  Is a very hardy herb.  Whilst most herbs require about 6 hrs of sunlight, oregano will survive on just 2 hrs of sun.  

COMPANION HERBS:  This goes with that ... and in herbs it is no different.  Some herbs work with with veg.  Here are June's top tips for companion herbs:
Cucumber and Dill
Beans and Sage
Tomatoe and Basil

JUNE'S TOUGHEST HERBS:  In June's opinion, the herbs which are the toughest are Rosemary, Lavender, Sage and Thyme

GROWING HERBS:  Most herbs require good drainage and at least 6 hrs of sunlight (morning light is best).  If you wanted to grow a herb basket to give as a gift for Christmas or a special occasion, allow approximately 6 weeks (over summer - more over winter) from planting for the pot to develop into a beautiful herb pot fit for a gift.  

Both June and Kim host garden tours overseas and within Australia.  Kim hosts tours for Venture Holidays, and June for Phil Hoffman Travel.  Their passion for and knowledge of plants is second to none.  I know they would be fabulous hosts.  If you are at all interested in joining either Kim or June be sure to contact their respective travel agents for details.  

We were so grateful for Kim and June's expert advice on growing and using herbs.  Please speak with our garden staff if you have any questions about their presentation.  The advice given in June's presentation is of a general nature only.  Please seek medical advice for all health conditions.