Many herbs we know today have been used for thousands of years and used by the great civilisations of the ancient world.
They were originally wild plants gathered for a variety of purposes including foods, preservatives, flavourings, beverages, insecticides and insect repellents, perfumes, fragrances, religious worship and decoration.
Later they were cultivated and found to be useful as companion plants, bee plants, compost accelerators and for making fungicidal and insecticidal preparations. Traditional herbs from Europe have been augmented by useful plants from the rest of the world, including many plants used by indigenous Australians. They form an important part of modern living, their value once again becoming recognised in the community.
What is a herb?
The common definition for a herb is a plant that is useful and is put to a purpose in some way. For example, culinary use, medicinal values & perfumes to name just a few. Herb plants include herbaceous perennials, annuals, biennials, shrubs, trees and more primitive plants such as ferns, mosses, algae, lichen and fungi.
Growing Herbs in South Australia
South Australia is classed as a temperate or Mediterranean climate. It has cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers with a majority of rainfall occurring in the winter months. Many of the well known herbs originate from the Mediterranean region and so grow especially well in our climate. The best soil to grow herbs in is loam with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (7 – 7.5). Sandy soils can benefit with the addition of organic matter such as compost or rotted animal manures. Clay soil can benefit with the addition of gypsum.