It all started with the gardener’s hands. 

I hate gloves, and I spend a lot of time with my hands in compost or pulling lantana, so I end up with rough, calloused hands.  I quite like having gardener’s hands, because it means I don’t get cut as easily as if I had, for example, computer-programmer’s hands.

But a little while back it started getting a little more like careless-chainsaw-operator’s hands, with chafes and cracks that expanded when I flexed my fingers.  So just to try, I put the clear gel from some of our aloe vera plants on my hands, sort of like moisturiser.

After three applications of our home-grown “moisturiser”, my hands were baby soft.  It was quite startling.  It’s been years since I’ve had hands like that.  I don’t really want them like that all the time, but it’s good to know it’s easy to do.  But the real eye-opener for me was how effective the straight fresh gel was.  Does this sound like an ad for aloe vera?  I promise I’m not trying to sell you anything.

I’d sort of had in my head that herbal remedies weren’t very effective.  Perhaps it came from trying the old “put dock on a nettle sting to make it better” story.  I have to say, dock doesn’t really work for me.  But I’m sure it also came from my science background, which doesn’t trust any evidence that’s not published in a mainstream peer-reviewed journal.

Anyway, stuff the science background.  If aloe vera does what it’s traditionally said to do, without being incorporated into a petroleum-based cream in a jar that you have to buy, then what about other herbal remedies?  And so the obsession began.

I’ve been cadging cuttings from people I know, and propagating the herbs I have, and got hold of Isabel Shippard’s herb book, as well scroogling.  Alanna Moore’s chook book has a whole section on herbal poultry treatments too.  But we’re pretty healthy here, touch wood, so I’m also interested in herbs for their nutritional and preventative properties.

I’m hoping this will be a running list, that I’ll add to as I find more herbs, and figure out how to use them.  There’s heaps of info on all of these elsewhere (this book is very good) so I intend this to be a sort of collection of study notes for me, where I put the things that stick in my head about each plant.

  • Basil

    Young basil

    Young basil

  • Calendula
  • Chia
  • Chicory
  • Comfrey
  • Dill
  • Farmer’s friend
  • Garlic
  • Garlic chives
  • Ginger
  • Gotu kola
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint



  • Mushroom plant
  • Nasturtium
  • Nettle
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Pigweed
  • Scrambling lily
  • Scurvy weed
  • Tansy
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • White cedar
  • Wormwood
  • Yarrow
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