Growing a herb garden with Linda Brennan - video transcript
This page is a transcript of the Growing a herb garden with Linda Brennan video on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. The video is just over 9 minutes long.
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>> LINDA: Hi everybody, it's Linda Brennan here from Ecobotanica. You've probably met me at one of the Brisbane Library Sustainability Sessions at your local library, but today I've brought you into my garden. Let's do a herb ramble to introduce you to some of my favorite subtropical herbs that you can also grow and enjoy from your garden.
The first one is galangal ginger. Look at it. It's about two to three meters tall, and it's beautiful. We grow it as a screening shrub. But you know what? You can eat the root of this. I've dug up some already to show you. This root is absolutely delicious. It has a spicy, peppery, lemony fragrance and flavour that adds the most delicious additional flavour to any Asian dish. It's pink. You can see. Galangal ginger is typically pink. This is the part you eat. This is the part that you want to plant as well.
It also has an edible flower. It's autumn now, but you can see that there are still some flower spikes left. Those pale green flowers were those that I used to use in sauces like dipping sauces for Vietnamese rolls during the summertime. It's delicious. You'll love growing it.
Let me now introduce you to another one that I think you will love to grow. That is Stevia. Now, this is Stevia. She looks a bit haggard at this time of the year, because it's autumn and she's had her flush of leaves in the summertime. But Stevia is the plant that produces the sweet leaf that's the alternative to sugar. The leaves on this plant are actually between 100 and 300 times sweeter than sugar, and it tastes great. You can put the leaves straight into a cup of tea if you want.
But you see how she's gone to flower now. Those dry flower heads are really worth keeping, because all these little seeds are the ones that you're going to re-sow in spring. So cut the dry seed heads, store them in a paper bag, and then next spring you'll be able to plant them in your garden, and you'll have as much Stevia as you want.
Let's move on to the next one. Now, this is culinary sage. I love having it in the garden, because I use it a lot in cooking. Although, it has a history of being used for more than cooking. During the Black Plague, this was one of the herbs they used in Four Thieves Vinegar to wash their hands with to get rid of the Black Plague. Isn't that amazing? It's quite an antiseptic.
But culinary sage is really affected by grasshoppers and caterpillars. So after I've dusted it with diatomaceous earth, I often find that those insects disappear, and I get some nice, fresh growth before I cut it back.
I cut it back in autumn or early winter. I just take off the parts that I want for the kitchen. The rest of it has a light trim back, so it springs back again in the springtime. Easy as that.
I love salads. For us, we can't always grow lettuce in the summertime, because it's just too hot. So this is a herb that I love growing as a leaf in our salads. It's called Lebanese Cress. It's soft, delicious, and very mildly flavored. I just want to show you how it grows, because it's very interesting. Lebanese Cress grows by these long sort of stoloniferous roots under the ground, and it will pop up through your garden. You do have to limit where you want to put it, because it'll want to take over your garden. But you will eat plenty of it. Any that you don't eat, you can feed to the chickens. That's Lebanese cress.
One growing very nearby is Sorrel. This one is French (garden) sorrel. I first had French sorrel when I visited France years ago. This sorrel has a pleasant lemony flavor. I think you're going to enjoy it in salads with that Lebanese cress as well.
There is also a relation to this, and it's the small Sheep sorrel over on this side of the path. The Sheep Sorrel has a tiny little leaf that tastes just as lemony and crisp as the French Sorrel. It's great any time of the year. This makes a beautiful micro salad herb.
This is part of the herb garden which grows in full sun in summer, but it's very moist. That's where our tropical and subtropical herbs thrive. This one is turmeric. I grow Turmeric for two reasons. First of all, the leaves are wonderful to wrap morsels of food in. But secondly, those orange roots... These ones here, I've dug them up before. These are the most wonderful flavorsome things to have in curries, spice mixes, and these are a great thing to have fresh or dried throughout the year.
Normally, you would wait to harvest this until the leaves die down completely. Once the leaves have died down, they fill out the roots beautifully, and it takes on that very vibrant orange color. So turmeric is worth having, whether it's in the pot or in the garden. But remember, keep it moist.
Growing next to the turmeric is another one in the same family. It's shorter and it looks just like Turmeric, but this one is called Chinese Keys or Kra Chai. This is a spice or herb when it's fresh that we use in Thai cooking. If you've ever been to Thailand but can't get that authentic flavor of the Thai dishes when you get home, it's because you're missing out on this. This root gives you that lemony fragrance that you only taste in that real Thai food.
It is a relative of the gingers, as you can see. It looks like a very small turmeric. But this is the section that you eat here. Once again, once the leaves have died down, the roots become longer and fatter. That's when you dig up the whole plant, take off those small roots, peel them, and either use them fresh, frozen, or dried. It's called Chinese Keys because evidently, the look on those fingers when they're mature resembles a very old Chinese door lock where the keys used to go in and slide around. So Chinese Keys or Kra Chai.
Growing next to those in this equally warm spot is ginger. You can see the culinary ginger has a short, spiky leaf. This is what it looks like under the ground. You can start harvesting this back in January or February when you get the new ginger roots, which are succulent and very juicy. But I tend to leave it until this time of the year because I like to harvest as much as possible when it's gone fat after the leaves have died down. Then I use it fresh, or I also slice it very thinly and put it into honey, which preserves it in the fridge for you. Any extra, I peel and then pop through the blender and dry it off in the dehydrator, so I've got enough dried ginger to last me for the rest of the year.
The final plant that I'd like to show you, which is just a marvellous thing for growing in a subtropical herb garden, is this one, Pandan Leaf. It's got a beautiful fragrance, especially in the afternoons when the sun has been shining on it. It's normally from those areas wherein the Asian countries will grow by a flowing stream. So that tells you that it likes to have wet roots. This one has an irrigation head right at the back of it, so it gets irrigated three times a week. And I put some cow manure or mushroom compost under there about four times a year to keep it growing really lush and beautiful. It always looks as good as this. What I do with it is that I cut the leaves off. Then these leaves, I tie like this into a little knot, and I drop that into a boiling pot of rice. It flavours the rice deliciously.
That's about it for us today in the herb garden. I hope you've enjoyed your time. I'll see you next time.