So, we had a workshop to talk about the herbal teas that you can grow in Melbourne. We took cuttings of some tea plants (mint, sage, rosemary, lemon balm and river mint), harvested some ginger (125g!) and lemongrass, planted some German chamomile and made some delicious tea.
A little bit about the teas that we grow:
Lemon balm is a feel-good plant, and not just because it is bee-friendly: the tea made from the fresh leaves of lemon balm is said to relieve fatigue and headaches and make you feel happy. Lemon balm is a perennial plant that grows to about 50cm. It will grow well in a well-drained spot in part shade to full sun, and needs to be watered in summer. Cut it back to the ground after flowering to encourage fresh, new growth. Lemon balm can be easily propagated from seed, division or cutting.
Lemon Verbena leaves make an absolutely delicious tea and the flowers and foliage are beautifully scented. The plant is a deciduous shrub that grows to about 2m, and should be pruned after flowering to stop it from becoming leggy. It likes a sunny spot, either in the ground or a pot, with well-drained soil and regular watering. Lemon Verbena is killed by frost so make sure it is somewhere protected if you live in a frost-prone area. It can be propagated from cuttings taken in summer.
There are two types of chamomile, perennial and German; the latter is most commonly used for making tea. German Chamomile is an annual and is easiest to grow from a seedling the first time, but if you leave a few flowers on the plant, you will find that the seeds from those flowers will come up on their own the next year. Chamomile likes a sunny spot, and will grow well in pots if regularly watered. Cut off the flowers when they are opening and use fresh or dried to make a very soothing and yummy tea (one teaspoon per person).
Ginger tea is great for calming an upset stomach and the plant has attractive, tropical foliage. It is a little out of its range in Melbourne, but can do well in a sheltered, warm spot if given plenty of water. Plant it in spring, then harvest the whole plant in autumn. Use slices of the rhizome (root tuber) for making tea, and save a bit to plant again in the next spring.
Peppermint tea is a classic herbal tea that is said to help with digestion and reduce nausea. It is very easy to grow, so much so that it might start to take over your garden - we recommend growing it in a pot. Peppermint grows well in a semi-shaded, moist location - under a tap or near a dripping gutter are often good spots. If it starts to look tatty, simply cut the stems back to the ground and new, fresh growth will soon appear. There are many different mints available, including Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Spearmint and a native Australian River Mint.
Other plants to try
Use a pot or infuser to brew your homegrown loose-leaf tea. Simply pour hot water (add a dash of cold water to the kettle after it has boiled) to the tea and let it steep for 5 minutes.
You can mix herbs together to make delicious blends, using your imagination or these combinations:
Happy Tea - Lemon balm and chamomile
Cold remedy - Sage, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm and mint with a big spoonful of honey
Lemongrass refresher - Lemongrass and ginger
Sage refresher - Sage and ginger
Sweet mint - Peppermint and licorice root
Click here to download this information in as a PDF.
WORDS & PHOTOS: Julianna Rozek
Spring is here, the weather is beaut, and we have a garden that needs tending- what a brilliant combination. On Saturday, also Burnley Open Day, Horticultured gathered for the first of many weekend working bees. The main task of the day was to clear the eastern edge and plant a perennial edible border of artichokes, rhubarb and alpine strawberries.
We started with a lawn and lots of hope. It was quite a formidable task, but many hands, forks and shovels make light work.
The kikuyu, clover and other assorted hard-to-kill weeds we removed will be used in an upcoming hot compost workshop. Unlike cold composting, this should produce enough heat to render the seeds and runners dead.
We inherited artichokes, rhubarb and alpine strawberries with the gardens. However, they all needed dividing and the artichokes were being out-competed by weeds.
Arranging the artichokes in a border will demonstrate that edibles can be pretty too. Although at the moment it all looks like a sea of mulch…
All three species have survived utter neglect and no irrigation over summer for a couple of years. With a bit of care they should thrive. We’re pretty excited, so watch this space!
We also weeded the flower border planted a couple of months ago. There’s lots of buds, and with the sunshine and warmth finally kicking in they are taking off. And we began a rosemary hedge, using leftover stock from the nursery. A future task will be propagating cuttings from the existing rosemary bush and finishing it.
There is also heaps of fennel growing, so if anyone likes fennel…feel free to take it. Please. There is too much.
The day was extremely satisfying and provided a welcome distraction from assignments. Thank you to all that made it, and especially Brett and Bridey our community gardens officers.
To reward ourselves for our hard work, we finished with freshly brewed herbal tea with plants from the garden, and harvested a bunch of veggies to share out and take home. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!
WORDS: Peter Lee, PHOTOS: Courtesy of Unimelb Science Student News
Horticultured held an awesome early spring herb planting workshop at the Parkville MUC Garden today, as part of the University of Melbourne's Science Festival.
From 12–2pm, we had two massive groups turn up for the herb planting workshops, around forty people altogether. The sessions were overbooked and hugely popular. Participants were treated to a demo planting of a mini herb garden, and then given a pot to play around with to try transplanting seedlings. At the end they could take home their very own herb starter garden!
With the hard sowing work done by Horticultured members in May, the seedlings looked great and after a rapid-fire lesson, the workshop groups were off and planting.
We had a great selection of herbs available and covered a few bases for most users. Workshop participants were given pamphlets describing the herbs and their culinary uses. Parsley, marjoram and chives were popular, and the Zataar also gained lots of interest, so we foresee there will be middle-eastern cooking nights coming up! Catnip was also a favourite.
Thanks to Pete, Julianna and Bec for running the workshop and giving great propagating advice!
If you missed out, don't worry, there are more great events on for Science Festival, check out the program here.
P.S. There's going to be an amazing panel on Greening Cities for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation at Burnley. Maybe we'll see you there!
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.