Today was kind of a lovely day. In the morning I harvested bunches of oregano and spearmint, bundling them with elastic bands and hanging them to dry. Then on to the Italian parsley, and enough basil to make two cups worth when chopped. The basil was quickly turned into a lovely green pesto – with sunflower seeds and almonds instead of expensive pine nuts.
I got enough of a parsley harvest to fill an 8.8 liter box to overflowing. I washed it in cold water, dried it in a towel, chopped it fine and packed it in to Ziplock bags to freeze. And when I got tired of doing that, I made the rest into small bundles to bring to my work colleagues tomorrow. And this was only the first harvest!
It is truly a joy to see how well herbs have taken to the sandy soil around our property. There is a thyme plant which has exploded into beautiful purple blossoms; oregano which has become more bush than herb; mint grown from seed that has grown into vigorous spreading plants; and the prodigal parsley and basil which were interplanted with the tomatoes. And I’ve just planted a new bed of lavender from seeds I collected from my sister’s garden in Victoria last year and started in flats in February.
These have all been grown without any animal inputs, and without any chemicals either. They have been planted into a mulched no-dig garden and watered with rainwater, and have thrived on being ignored all summer.
Herbs may just seem like fun tasty bits to add to food, but in fact they are powerhouses of nutrient and medicine. Parsley is incredibly high in Vitamin K, and an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which both function as antioxidants. Basil has the ability to inhibit pathogenic bacteria, an important feature in an age when some pathogens are becoming resistant to commercial antibiotics. It is rich in iron, calcium and vitamin A, and like parsley it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which make it an important preventive medicine as well as a flavour-enhancing treat.
What a wonderful meeting of science, medicine, agriculture, and aromatic culinary delight!