When I was just 24 (many years ago!) I bought my first house in Golden Bay, south of Perth. It was in a sleepy little seaside hamlet and although it cost me $67 000, in those days on a graduate teacher’s wage, that was a lot of money. Especially with interest rates at around 17%.
I could hardly afford to feed myself and survived on 2 Minute Noodle Burgers (that’s a topic for a whole different post) and scones for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, I loved my little house and spent a lot of time and any extra money that I had painting and furnishing it with hand-me-downs and second hand pieces.
I also loved the garden but of course I didn’t have much money. My solution? Grow plants that were inexpensive, fast to grow and did at least two jobs. Of course, that meant herbs.
Herbs not only looked fantastic in the garden but I could eat them, use them to make my homemade soaps and detergents, or benefit from their insect repelling properties. They were definitely value for money.
I planted carpeting thymes between the paving stones and under the clothesline which looked stunning but of course, when they were covered in their mat of flowers, attracted the bees and rendered the clothesline useless. And scented geraniums were everywhere, mainly because they made my dog smell beautiful when she brushed past them.
The Indian runner ducks would come out of their pen under the water tank tower every morning and snaffle up the snails, leaving behind their manure to feed the garden. I used their eggs to cook cakes and learnt that adding a tablespoon of water for each egg compensates for their thickness. So, even the ducks had several jobs to do in the garden.
Edible herbs were mass planted throughout the garden in amongst perennials such as rosemary, salvia and lavenders. Lemon grass was dotted throughout because I just loved the way that it moved in the wind and chamomile grew in the shady areas along with my one indulgence, columbines. It really was a pretty picture.
My brother called me a ‘mung bean’ but I wore that as a badge of honour. It was a wonderful life in my seaside shack and I loved every moment. I would never have guessed that almost 15 years later I would own and run a herb production nursery. Herbs have brought far more to my life than just doing a few jobs in the garden.
Happy herb gardening!