The Versatility of Herbs

The Versatility of Herbs

At its June meeting, members of the Chester Garden Club welcomed Rubea Hutt, from the neighbouring community of New Ross, as guest speaker. Originally from South America, Rubea is now a member of two garden clubs in Nova Scotia and has become well-known for her interest in and knowledge of herbs. President Sheila Knowlton-MacRury is shown calling the meeting to order for Rubea’s presentation on growing and using a wide selection of herbs.

An enthusiastic promoter of herbs in cooking everything from soup to dessert, Rubea described many varieties of mint, thyme and other herbs that she uses in salads, soups, main dishes, apple crisps, and even tea-breads. She noted the benefits of incorporating herbs because of their anti-oxidant properties, and she emphasized that herbs contain more micro-nutrients packed into them than do many vegetables. In addition to sharing tips on using herbs in cooking, Rubea discussed various ways of growing herbs according to whether they were annual or perennial plants, and methods of storing them (including freezing) in the off-season. She also encouraged gardeners to experiment with some of the more unusual varieties as well as the commonly grown herbs.

One of Rubea’s useful tips for busy gardeners was that herbs respond poorly to overfeeding and require only a single application of an organic fertilizer (well-rotted manure, compost or fish emulsion) in the spring. They also have few natural enemies by way of insects. Thus, with minimal attention except for the pinching back to encourage bushiness, and the ongoing trimming as you harvest herbs to include in your meals, herbs can be a wonderful addition to your garden. Plans are underway to include a few of Rubea’s sample recipes in future club communications.

Looking ahead: the Club’s Annual Flower Show and Tea will be held on July 29th this year. The event has been a popular feature of summer in Chester for many years, drawing entries from members of Chester Garden Club and also the wider community. The theme for this year is “All Through the House” and the charming painting below shows a seaside scene as viewed from a house in the Chester area. The painting, by Heather Mackinnon (a member of Chester Garden Club) was chosen by the committee to serve as the artwork for all publicity related to the show and tea.

The purchase of a ticket ($7.00) at the door entitles visitors to view all the exhibits and also enjoy a tea of sandwiches and cake. Judges will assess the entries in the morning and identify the winning exhibits. The show will then be open to the public from 1:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon, with tea being served between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. For information about submitting entries in either the decorative or horticultural classes, please click on the link on the side-bar “Flower Show Schedule”.

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