Herbs In The­gar­den

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - GARDENING -

NIGE­RIA is na­tive to many nat­u­ral re­sources in­clud­ing herbs that are rich in fla­vor, nu­tri­ents and medic­i­nal val­ues that have pos­i­tive ef­fects on our health. Other ap­pli­ca­tions in­clude top­i­cal oint­ments and cos­met­ics, to fight dis­eases such as di­a­betes thrush and can­cers.

Lots of these plants have been well re­searched but due to the fact that most peo­ple don’t know the lo­cal/for­eign names, the in­for­ma­tion is lost in trans­la­tion. As the say­ing goes knowl­edge is power. So we look at some these herbs to un­der­stand why they were so pop­u­lar in the tra­di­tional culi­nary dishes and herbal pre­scrip­tions.

Since the cli­mate in Nige­ria usu­ally fea­tures dis­tinct wet and dry pe­ri­ods Nige­ria can grow herbs that grow in drought tol­er­ant cli­mate or a xeriscape gar­den.

There are many culi­nary herbs but not all of them tol­er­ate drought or low wa­ter con­di­tion. That said, many of the most com­monly uti­lized for food prepa­ra­tion are drought tol­er­ant. Sci­en­tist as­sures us that the earth is just go­ing to keep get­ting warmer and all ev­i­dence point to this fact. With this in mind, many gar­den­ers are look­ing for so­lu­tions to min­i­mize wa­ter us­age by look­ing for plants that thrive with less wa­ter. Grow­ing a drought tol­er­ant herb gar­den is ideal.

How to grow Drought Hardy Herbs

The good news about grow­ing drought tol­er­ant herb gar­den is that most of these herbs, which are in the La­bi­etae fam­ily, have Mediter­ranean ori­gin, a re­gion of in­hos­pitable rocky land that is hot and dry. Over time these plants have evolved into sturdy heat lovers that re­quire min­i­mal ir­ri­ga­tion for sur­vival. These in­clude Part­minger (Oci­mum Canum) “curry leaf’ Tea bush (Oci­mum gratis­si­mum) Yoruba Efirin, Ibo nchaawa, thyme, Oregano, Mar­jo­ram, sage, rose­mary Laven­ders and oth­ers. These are pun­gent herbs, which are pop­u­lar in Nige­ria.

Ad­di­tion­ally, herbs re­quire no fer­til­iza­tion, es­pe­cially if the gar­den plot has been prop­erly pre­pared prior to plant­ing mak­ing them the per­fect use­ful, yet un­fussy, choice for a low wa­ter gar­den. To en­sure the suc­cess of a gar­den of drought re­sis­tant herbs, a lit­tle soil amend­ment goes a long way. Drought tol­er­ant herbs are by ne­ces­sity tough re­sis­tant to most dis­eases and pets, but as with most plants that will dumb­est in soil Laden with mi­cronu­tri­ents. Adding com­post to the soil will en­sure that the plants are able to up­take valu­able nutri­tion as well as pro­vid­ing well drain­ing soil. Even with global warm­ing, there are times of heavy rains and herbs do not typ­i­cally like “wet feet”. Dig in 30-50 per­cent or­ganic com­post, sand and other amend­ments into the soil es­pe­cially if it is clay, to al­low for root aer­a­tion and drainage.

If you live in an area that re­gard­less has fre­quent wet weather for high hu­mid­ity lev­els grow­ing a drought tol­er­ant herb gar­den may be a bit more chal­leng­ing. Raise the beds to fa­cili

tate drainage along with amend­ing the soil. Also space the herbs out when plant­ing them. This will help avoid root rot, pow­dery mildew and other fun­gal dis­eases that pre­vail in damp con­di­tions.

Mulch the bed af­ter you plant, mulching will pre­vent wa­ter from col­lect­ing on the leaves as well as aid­ing in weed re­tar­da­tion.

Culi­nary Herbs that Re­sists Drought and pot­tages (like yam pot­tage).

Some use it as nat­u­ral blood tonic for those suf­fer­ing from ane­mia. The leaves are boiled slightly with wa­ter, and then squeezed; the juice is mixed with mil or any malt drink. It works faster than folic acid.

Bit­ter leaf (Ver­nonia Amyg­dalina), Efo ewuro-yoruba, Shakwa shuwaka-hausa, Onuigbo-ibo, Etido-efik.

Bit­ter leaf is a Nige­rian herb that grows only in the trop­ics and is re­lated to Let­tuce, chicory and daisies. Many Nige­ri­ans use the herb as a medic­i­nal com­po­nent to their diet. There are sev­eral species, some large-leafed, some with smaller leaves. As the name im­plies the plant is bit­ter. You can re­duce or elim­i­nate the bit­ter­ness by crush­ing it and wash­ing the leaves well or boil­ing be­fore the leaves are cooked as bit­ter leaf soup or added as gar­nish to en­hance the fla­vor of stews made with other veg­eta­bles, some­times with egusi (ground melon seeds).

It adds a mildly as­trin­gent bit­ter af­ter­taste to a dish akin to the tan­nins in wine. Tra­di­tion­ally it is also used as medicine to treat fever, malaria, hep­ati­tis, di­ar­rhea, dysen­tery and cough. The leaves also used as medicine for stom­achache, headache, sca­bies, and gas­tro in­testi­nal disor­ders. It is rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als. Bit­ter leaf also re­duces blood sugar level of the body dras­ti­cally and re­pairs the pan­creas and kid­ney, which is great news for di­a­betic pa­tients.

Lemon grass (Cym­bo­pogon cit­ra­tus), Kooko-oba Yoruba, achara ehi, ale­wakwo Ibo, Ikonti-efik.

Eas­ily cul­ti­vated, used to make herbal tea and in mak­ing pep­per soup, por­ridge. It is also used as a de­ter­rent to tsetse fly and snakes. It is also used medic­i­nally, to re­lieve thrush, a yeast in­fec­tion in the, mouth and throat. In toi­letries, it is a key in­gre­di­ent in black soap prod­ucts, a line of fa­cial and body cleanser that can help al­le­vi­ate acne and eczema.

La­bi­etae The botan­i­cal fam­ily La­bi­etae in­cludes many Nige­rian herbs. Some are of Medit­ter­anean ori­gin now spread to other warm dry re­gions. It in­cludes herbs like thyme, rose­mary, sage, oregano, mar­jo­ram, laven­der and oth­ers.

These are pun­gent herbs, sev­eral of which are pop­u­lar use that can be cul­ti­vated. Oregano- Greek oregano as the name sug­gests is na­tive to the Greek isles and a great choice for a low wa­ter gar­den. The name means “joy of the moun­tain” from Greek oros (moun­tain) and ganos (joy). It is won­der­ful used fresh or dried in culi­nary dishes. Oregano has medic­i­nal qual­i­ties used as an an­ti­sep­tic, an an­tibac­te­rial and an­ti­fun­gal.

Rose­mary- Rose­mary is nearly in­de­struc­tible and can grow quite large if not re­strained by prun­ing. It can also make an aro­matic hedge and does very well in rocky soils. It is per­fect in a drought tol­er­ant gar­den.

Sage- Sage is an­other good can­di­date. Salivia of­fic­i­nalis is a hardly peren­nial sub-shrub. There are many va­ri­eties all of which can be used fresh or dried. Many have lovely blos­soms as well.

Thyme – Thyme is an­other good choice with some va­ri­eties ex­cel­lent ground cov­ers. A fra­grant herb used as sea­son­ing for a wide range of dishes fresh or dried. Dry soil ac­tu­ally con­cen­trates the aro­matic oils in thyme and it thrives in rocky con­di­tions.

Par­timinger (Oci­mum canum) Com­mon Nige­rian name “curry leaves”.

A fra­grant herb was also in­tro­duced many years ago. It is re­lated to the Basil fam­ily. It is mainly used in sea­son­ing culi­nary dishes dried or fresh. Also in

Mari­nade for meat, chicken, and fish. It can be used in sal­ads and drinks and al­most ev­ery­thing.

Clove basil (Oci­mum grastis­sium) Scent leaf (Yoruba efirin, Edo Ihiri aramogbo, efik Mfang, amana, Ibo nchaawu, Kal­abari ekeni, Kolokuma fu­rue­gena, Hausa daidoya.

Like Part­minger “curry leaves”, the fresh leaves of clove basil (scent leaves) are used in a va­ri­ety of ways. In the Delta re­gion it is an in­gre­di­ent in pep­per soups and pot­tages, in Kwara for egusi sauce, Igalla as veg­etable and many other cuisines in other ar­eas and raw in sal­ads. The leaves are widely be­lieved to aid di­ges­tion. In­case of nose bleed, ap­ply crushed leaves made into a paste into the nos­trils to stop nose bleeds.

Sring Onions (Al­lium ascalonicum) shal­lot, scal­lion, Yoruba- alu­bosa elewe, hausa lawashi/ ganyen al­basa. A scal­lion is one of the var­i­ous Al­lium species, all of which have hol­low green leaves (like the com­mon onion) but lack a fully de­vel­oped root bulb. It is fra­grant; the fla­vor is a cross be­tween an onion and gar­lic, but milder to taste. It is used as a veg­etable with raw or cooked. Chopped, it is used also for mari­nades, for poach­ing seafood, in stir-fries, and sal­ads.

Al­lium Chives : Gar­lic Chives (Al­lium tubero­sum) are an ex­cel­lent choice for the low wa­ter gar­den. They have a slight gar­lic fla­vor and are de­li­cious in al­most ev­ery­thing. They also have lovely lilac coloured blooms. If you al­low them to bloom keep in mind they self sow at the drop of a hat.

Roselle or Sor­rel (Hausa -yakwa leaves)

This Leaf is re­ally pop­u­lar with the Hausas and is used to pre­pare Miyan taushe. They come in two flow­er­ing va­ri­eties, the red and white. The white flow­ers are sour and used to make soups in some parts of the coun­try. The yakwa leaves them­selves are used in dif­fer­ent kinds of soups in­clud­ing ground­nut soup. The red flow­ers are used in mak­ing hi­bis­cus tea, our pop­u­lar zobo.

Spring onions

Dried Hi­bis­cus Flower (H.sab­dar­iffa) sor­rel, zobo

Flow­er­ing African blue basil

Thyme plant

Flow­er­ing chives



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