While there is a lot of growth in our little medicinal garden this summer, with the abundance of sun and rain, from the 50 or so plants which have been placed in this small traditional circle form, we are now down to about a dozen.
The fragrant and soporific garden has fared best, with Spearmint, peppermint, valerian, lemon balm one kind of catmint and Rosa rugosa all sitting pretty.
Other beds are down to 2-4 plants, although in the case of the tansy and wormwood(or southernwood?) they have entirely have all but taken over one area, spreading from their base. Keeping the number of plants (and seedheads) down if they can spread easily is important, the beds here are demonstrating medicinal plants, but we take care not to let them run away. Comfrey can be one such, and so the kind we have planted in all our beds is one which does not spread by seed, only if a part of the root is left in the soil or replanted. It’s a plant that has its own little fan club it has so many uses. Check out Isabel Shipard’s handy hints on her fabulous herb site.
Visiting plants here in this display is one way you can get to know them before committing to them in your own yard. Lady’s Mantle, and mallow also prolific growers, have also disappeared, but take off again very readily.
Being a wide open space with 24 hour access as well as community garden, plants find there way from one place to another as well as any house with poltergeists. Silently mints, strawberries, even potatoes and garlic are moved, pulled up or disappear entirely. In the case of our herbs and medicinal plants, it may be that one or two are out of season and will spring up later in the year, and some have simply not survived winter, a harsh wind or a dry week. Hardy sage will power on in most places, along with numerous others it just gone. In some cases, like this, whole plants have been uprooted and removed by strangers.
Two of us have brought extra sage and mints from our yards to replace these losses, and you can help too by donating extra medicinal plants to the collection. Do you have a special herb you’d like to share?
If you’ve herbs going crazy or could do with a haircut, and you can divide them, gather seeds, or take cuttings to share with us to revive or medicinal and herbal garden, please bring them to the community gardens on a Friday morning and let someone there know what you have brought.
I saw some great signs in a public herb garden, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney which make it pretty clear how to use their garden space, and soon we’ll be putting in our own signs to communicate how we’d like visitors to use the gardens.
Unlike the garden in Sydney we don’t consider all picking off limits, and there’s so much fruit to share that it’s great to see the windfalls taken away and made into something tasty…. (its even nicer if you can share that information, or the products with us – like this yummy fruit leather made in a dehydrator by Bente, from gardens’ plums and apples). Find out how at one of her raw food workshops, part of the fabulous and ever growing kitchen garden festival throughout January and February. Find out more at Slow Food Blue Mountains
We grow for our volunteers, be able to feed gardeners on our artichokes, pumpkins and zucchini lettuces and dandelions, berries, nuts and seeds after a hard days graft, in most kinds of weather with a hearty soup in winter, snacks and salads in summer.
And now it’s not just our volunteers we’re feeding. We have developed one bed especially for the Earth Recovery Kitchen, and we’ve made a modest start supplying a small amount of fresh produce for their regular Sunday Lunches. It’s a supply that’s been depleted in the past by zealous random pickers! This week we’re delighted to include gourmet beans zucchini and the prettiest wholesome squashes.
Feel free to take windfall fruit, and If you’d like to share some of the fruit or veg in the gardens then please come along to one of our gardening sessions. We sometimes have plants available for sale or for free, and if you’ve seeds, produce or home-made goods there are swaps usually on the last Sunday morning of the month.