Herbs are a great place to start if you are interested in gardening. Many herbs considered annuals elsewhere are perennial in our climate in New Orleans, which means you always have the freshest possible source of seasonings near, or even in, your kitchen.

There are many health and nutritional benefits to using herbs and spices in your cooking. In addition to the many nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes you can get from adding herbs to your meals, many herbs contain phytochemicals with medicinal benefits.

I’ve posted before about the important issue of endocrine disruptors in our modern environment and food. Certain herbs such as turmeric, garlic, onions, chamomile, oregano, sage, and thyme, and foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), greens, and oils high in omega 3s all help counter endocrine disruption through estrogen inhibition or other processes.

Growing some of your own food is spirtually fulfilling, environmentally responsible, and, increasingly, economical.

The picture above is of an herb spiral, a Permaculture concept that enables you to grow a large number of plants in a small area in a way that mimics a natural ecosystem (as opposed to a monoculture or typical garden with its linear rows). Nature builds diverse, interdependent, non-linear systems. The three dimensional, twisting shape of the herb spiral holds more surface area than a standard straight garden bed, and creates multiple microclimates through the many variations in shade and wetness. Dry and heat-loving plants like rosemary sit near the top of the spiral, while shade and wet-loving plants like mints lie along the bottom.

“Edge” is a big concept in Permaculture. Edges, where two or more ecosystems border each other, are often the most fertile and dynamic places in nature. The spiral shape packs a lot of edge into a small area.

By combining multiple plant species in a small area, you decrease the chance that a pest will find its favorite meal and eat your whole crop. You can interplant species such as marigold, buckwheat, dill, tarragon, and sunflowers that either repel pests or attract predators such as wasps to protect your crop.

Here is a great how-to website on building an herb spiral.


~ by nolashaolin on November 10, 2008.

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