At our last meeting the large appreciative audience were totally fascinated with the presentation on the use of herbs by Geoff Makin from Petersgate Herbs. As he said – you can eat them, drink them, bath in them and control the bugs – and more – the list is endless! Having established their enterprise near Lidgetton many years ago, Geoff and his wife, Karen, have accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the rearing of these magical plants which occupy a first-class place in our domestic environment.
However, there is no doubt that Global warming is having a detrimental effect on the cultivation of certain herbs. Only five frosts have occurred this year out of an expected forty, and this coupled with high summer temperatures give testimony to the apparent myth that global warming does not exist! Of course, these factors are having a detrimental effect on crops and plants, including herbs.
The list of all the herbs which Geoff discussed is far too long for this article but the following are important points which he emphasised and which refer to the more familiar herbs:
- Many varieties are seasonal and should be planted accordingly. Sweet Basil for one will not tolerate frost and can only be grown in summer.
- Lavenders of all types are available from Petersgate. They like dry, poor soils, even rocky areas and will not thrive if watered too often. Certain Lavenders are used for perfume, some for posies and the low-growing Stoechas is used in insecticides. Lavenders do not survive for more than 3 to 4 years, so must be replaced.
- Oregano – that lovely herb for certain culinary dishes, is easily grown – but Greek Oregano, which grows into a small bush, is the best.
- Penny Royal grown in areas where there is ant invasion is excellent in its control. (NB residents of the Ambers who experience ant problems!)
- Rosemary grows well and can be obtained in a couple of varieties including Tuscan which is more upright and has very good culinary qualities.
- Most herbs will do well in flower beds but this does not apply to Mint which will take over and should be confined to a pot on its own!
So, if you are into herb growing, take a trip to Petersgate where you can learn more!
Geoff answered many questions and then handed over to Karen, who is the whizz kid with the bases made from her herbs.
As the curative qualities from herbs have become more widely known and utilised worldwide, certain types and components have become scarce and difficult to obtain.
Karen explained the processes she uses to manufacture her cosmetics – from soaps to face creams, body creams – even cream for snoring!
Karen reminded us of centuries ago when herbs were used in all households as cures for ailments – Nasturtiums for sore throats – also fantastic for companion planting. Also, Pelargoniums to keep away Mozzies – again too numerous to mention in this article.
With thanks to all who attended a very interesting and informative presentation.