Botanical name: Anethum graveolens

How to grow it:

Dill is an annual herb that likes full sun and good drainage. In my area (sub-tropical) it struggles in summer – bolting to seed early but likes all other parts of the year.

Grows fine in pots –  provide plenty of liquid fertiliser and a good layer of mulch.

Propagated usually by seed, and will readily self-seed if you allow it to flower.

In the kitchen: 

Dill has quite a unique flavour which is difficult to compare to other herbs. It’s very common in European cooking and in some parts of asia. Both the leaves and seeds are used.

Is fantastic in any egg dish, on fish, with cheese, potatoes, lamb and even sprinkled in salads – try it in coleslaw. It’s the main flavouring ingredient in Dill pickles.

Seeds are also used in cooking and to make a calming tea which is soothing to the digestive system.




Botanical name: Mentha piperita

How to grow it: Peppermint is a very vigorous plant that will spread rapidly by it’s roots. I’d recommend you grow it in pots or containers to avoid it taking over your garden. Preferred position is part sun or even shade – and it likes plenty of water.

Propogation is simple – just pull out any piece of root in it’s growing season and replant it.

In the kitchen: Personally I prefer Garden mint for cooking, though in many situations peppermint would make a good substitute.

My favourite use is the fresh leaves as a tea, or added to other herbs for a tea blend. Peppermint is known as a mild stimulant and can be used pretty freely as a pick-me-up or to aid study, late nights on the job etc. Also thought to aid memory & and mental alertness.

Peppermint is also used to repel spiders and ants and you could try a strong infusion (tea) and spray it around your window sills and entry point for ants. The essential oil is commonly used for this purpose too.

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum

Some other names: Basil, St Joseph’s wort

How to grow it:

Sweet Basil basil can be a biennial in warmer areas though is probably better planted as an annual. The bush can get quite large and leaves become a less tender if the plant isn’t regularly pruned and flowers removed.

Prefers full sun but will handle a little shade, moist, well drained soil. Doesn’t handle drought or frost well – keep it well watered for best results.

Great plant to grow in a pot – you can move it to shelter it in the cooler months and get a longer harvest.

Propogation is generally by seed, though I prefer to buy seedlings in spring. If you allow a plant to go to seed, you’ll find it popping up all around your garden.


Sweet basil contains vitamins A, B & C and volatile oils that have many herbal actions. High in calcium, magnesium, zinc & copper.

Regular consumption of basil is thought to strengthen your immune system.

In the kitchen

As most every cook knows, basil has a special synergy with garlic & tomatoes and is therefore essential in many italian dishes, though can be used much more widely.

Use it in eggs dishes, soups, casseroles, salads and rice dishes. Best added towards the end of cooking to preserve the flavour.

Also makes a delicious and nutritious tea – combines well with many other tea herbs.


Society Garlic Tulbaghia violacea

Society Garlic

Botanical name: Tulbaghia violacea

How to grow it: Right up there with the easiest of edible plants to grow. Will tolerate almost any conditions – I guess if there was one thing it would be full sun for best production. It may not handle colder climates with heavy frosts.

It’s pretty as an ornamental as it will flower quite prolifically for a large part of the year. Makes a great border plant as once it’s established if forms a rock-solid weed barrier.

Easily propagated by division in spring or autumn. Grows very well in containers, but you may need to thin it every couple of years as it’s liable to get potbound

Medicinal uses: High in vitamins A, B & C, Society garlic is being studied for it’s antiviral properties and potentially for raising testorone levels . Thought to stimulate appetite.

Using it in the kitchen: Up until fairly recently, I would usually choose Garlic chives in preference to Society garlic – thinking that the leaves were more tender & the flavour more subtle. This is true, but I’ve come to love Society garlic’s much stronger garlic flavour – which according to the literature, doesn’t stay on your breath (apparently making you more sociable – thus the name!)

I love it chopped finely and added to salads, and to just about any cooked vegetable. Try using both the white & green parts

Try it with mashed potatoes or sour cream & I swear you’ll never turn back to chives!


Fantastic survival plant as it’s ornamental, incredibly hardy, and can so easily be used in the kitchen.




Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Some other names: Romero, Rosemarine, Mary’s mantle

How to grow it:

Rosemary is an easy to grow perennial shrub to about 1 m, which will grow larger if given the right conditions.

Likes full sun and well drained soil – think mediterranean conditions where it grows naturally in rocky soils.

Great plant to grow in a pot – handles a bit of drought so is easy care for most people.

Propogation is generally by hardwood cuttings, though can also be grown from seed.


Rosemary contains vitamins A, B & C and volatile oils that have many herbal actions. High in calcium, Iron, potassium & magnesium though it’s difficult to consume a great deal of the herb.

Often referred to as the memory herb – thought to improve memory. Just rub a sprig and take a deep breath of the aroma to assist with studying or other concentration activities.

In the kitchen

Rosemary only needs to be used sparingly to impart a fine flavour to cooked foods. Combine with garlic and olive oil to make a baste for roast meats and vegetables, casseroles, sauces and breads. Well worth having a plant near your kitchen.

Also makes a delicious and nutritious tea.




Botanical name: Petroselinum crispum

How to grow it:

Parsley is a biennial herb to about 50cm. There are two very common cultivars – Curly leaf & Flat leaf which have very similar properties. The Flat leaf variety may grow a little larger and faster and handle slightly warmer conditions.

Prefers full sun but will handle a little shade, moist, well drained soil. Doesn’t like conditions that are too wet or hot – so maybe a semi-shade position in the heat of summer. Grows really well in pots with regular liquid fertiliser.

Regular harvesting of outside leaves & snipping off the flower buds will keep the plant healthy and abundant.

Propogation is generally by seed, though I prefer to buy seedlings in spring or autumn. In the second year it will readily self seed and you’ll get lots of new plants.

Flat leaf parsley


Parsley is high in vitamins A, B, C & K.  Also high in calcium, Iron, Potassium & zinc.

Consume plenty of parsley to clean your blood & strengthen your immune system.

In the kitchen

Parsley is used around the world both fresh and cooked and it’s nutrition is well known.

Add to soups, casseroles, stir fries, omelettes for it’s mild celery flavour and to salads or to garnish just about anything. What would life be like without Tabbouleh?


Kaffir lime

Kaffir lime

Botanical name: Citrus hystrix

Some other names: Wild lime, makrut lime, Mauritius papeda

How to grow it:

Kaffir lime is a tree to 5m with unique “double” leaves that are incredibly aromatic. Likes full sun and good drainage – plenty of water in the drier months. A hardy plant once established.

Great for growing in pots- in cooler areas the pot can be brought into shelter in winter.

Can be propagated by cuttings, but for many it would worth buying a grafted variety which seem to grow more rapidly.

In the Kitchen:

The leaves are the main parts used in asian cooking, but the rind, zest & juice and pulp of the fruit are all edible too.

Crush leaves in your hand & add to soups and curries. Deveined and chopped finely they can be added to salads and dressings. Essential ingredient in many curry and laksa pastes.

Throw a leaf per person in any pot of tea for a taste sensation.

Curry Leaf tree

Curry Leaf tree

Botanical name: Murraya koenigii

How to grow it:

Curry Leaf tree grows up to 5m but can be kept pruned to a smaller size. Likes full sun and good drainage – can handle part shade positions too. It’s an attractive tree that is worthy of a spot in ornamental gardens.

Can be grown in a large pot – roots will need to be pruned every 2-3 years to keep the foliage healthy.

Propogation is by stem or sucker cuttings. Also from seed, but must be very fresh.

In the kitchen:

Most noted for use in curries. Best flavour comes from frying it with garlic, ginger and onions.

An aromatic and warming oil can be made by cold infusing leaves in sesame oil.

Bay tree

Bay tree

Botanical name: Laurus nobilis

Some other names: Sweet Laurel, Sweet Bay, Noble Laurel, True Laurel

How to grow it:

Slow growing tree to 10m. Likes full sun and good drainage, but is hardy to a wide range of conditions.

Excellent plant for a large pot as roots grow much slower than a lot of trees and require pruning or potting up less often.

Propogation is from cuttings, but this can be difficult – best to find an established seedling or bush unless you’re an expert.

In the kitchen:

Fresh leaves are by far the best – straight from the plant into the pot. Dried leaves are also useful but have a noticeably different (and less pungent) aroma.

Usually at the start of cooking, bay leaves are added to all manner of casseroles, indian curries, soups and stocks, boiled vegetables, boiled and roasted meats – even desserts!

Can also be added to herbal teas and left in kitchen cupboards are said to repel cockroaches.



Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris

How to grow it:

Thyme is a low growing perennial bush that prefers warm, well drained conditions. If it likes it’s conditions it can spread over quite a large area making it a useful ground cover. Prefers full sun

Grows really well in pots and is great to have near the kitchen if there’s a sunny spot.

Propagation can be by seed or division – cuttings strike readily if kept moist.

In the Kitchen:

Thyme is a strongly flavoured herb so be careful not to overdo it. Mixes well with lots of other herbs – parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage etc. so if you get a patch going, feel free to experiment.

Goes well with all meat and cooked dishes – on it’s own or in combination, even sprinkled over salads for it’s pungent sweet flavour.

I like to mix leaves with butter and garlic and keep it in the fridge for use with vegetables and bread.

Makes a tonic herbal tea to boost your immune system and ward of colds and flu.

Thai Basil

Thai Basil

Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum

Some other names: Anise basil, liquorice basil, horapha

How to grow it:

Thai Basil basil is a perennial in warmer areas though is probably better planted as an annual. The bush can get quite large and leaves become a less tender if the plant isn’t regularly pruned and flowers removed.

Prefers full sun but will handle a little shade, moist, well drained soil. Doesn’t handle drought or frost well – keep it well watered for best results.

Great plant to grow in a pot – you can move it to shelter it in the cooler months and get a longer harvest.

Propogation is generally by seed, though I prefer to buy seedlings in spring. If you allow a plant to go to seed, you’ll find it popping up all around your garden.


Thai basil contains vitamins A, B & C and volatile oils that have many herbal actions. High in calcium, magnesium, zinc & copper.

Regular consumption of basil is thought to strengthen your immune system.

In the kitchen

Thai basil is used widely in asian cooking for it’s anise/licorice flavour. Can be used as flavouring or garnish.

This flavour can make it unsuitable for mediterranean dishes, pesto etc., but I will use it in place of sweet basil sometimes.

Also makes a delicious and nutritious tea – combines well with many other tea herbs.

Sawtooth coriander

Sawtooth coriander

Botanical name: Eryngium foetidum

Some other names: Thai coriander, Mexican cilantro,  perennial coriander

How to grow it:

Sawtooth coriander is a low growing perennial to about 40cm that grows well in summer when regular coriander is difficult.

It’s leaves are spikey and it’s flowers even more so. To get good results with Sawtooth you’ll need to snip off the flower heads regularly which encourages leaf growth.

Likes full sun but also does well in semishade. Keep well watered – it does well in the wet season.

Grows well in pots if you can keep the water and fertiliser up to them.

Propogation is by seed or plant division. If flowers are left to grow, they’ll self seed readily giving you a good patch.


In the kitchen

The leaves are spikey and so need to be chopped finely for use as a garnish.

The aroma of sawtooth coriander is a little stronger, but very similar to regular annual coriander and so can be used in all the same dishes for flavour.

Something I really enjoy about it is that it’s flavour holds well in cooking – unlike it’s annual cousin. That makes it really useful for curries and mexican/cajun dishes. Works well in fresh salsas too.



Botanical name: Salvia officinalis

Some other names: garden sage, common sage, culinary sage

How to grow it:

Sage is a perennial bush to 60cm that likes dry conditions. Can struggle with sub/tropical rains but doesn’t mind the heat.

Plant it in full sun with good drainage – if you find the right conditions it will last a very long time.

It’s great for a pot- preferably terracotta with a well draining potting mix.

Propagated usually by seed, though you can strike cuttings in a well drained mix.

In the kitchen: 

Sage is a really useful herb in the kitchen though only needs to be used sparingly – it’s quite strong.

Great with any meat, eggs, potatoes – an delicious baste can be made by mixing with olive oil & garlic.

Sage has many medicinal properties and great taste so use it freely.



Botanical name: Origanum vulgare

How to grow it:

Oregano  is a creeping perennial herb that’s super easy to grow and makes a great ground cover. It’s ideal conditions are hot, sunny and dry but I’ve found it does well just about anywhere. Unless your climate is cold – then you may have to treat it as a spring planted annual.

Does well in pots with a more prostrate plant like Rosemary or Bay Leaf – no mulching needed if you get Oregano established.

Really easy to propagate – just divide out some rooted cuttings from an established plant, replant, water in for a few days and mostly your oregano will take off without any further help.

In the Kitchen:

Oregano is a great flavouring herb use fresh or dried and in combinations with other herbs.

Common in mediterranean cuisine used with meat, red sauces, vegetables. Dried leaves sprinkled over salads.

Also makes a delicious, healthy, tonic tea.

Garden mint

Garden mint

Botanical Name: Mentha sachalinensis

How to grow it:

Mint is very easy to grow, but be warned – it can be quite invasive and is likely to overtake any bed it’s planted into. I plant mine in pots to avoid any problems with it’s vigorous roots.

Likes full sun and plenty of moisture. A good idea is to position a pot underneath your garden tap and plant mint – it’ll catch any water from your tap and thrive if it’s sunny enough.

Propagation is very easy – just grab any piece of of the plant with roots – plant it in it’s new spot and keep it moist for a week.

In the kitchen:

Mint is best used fresh as much is lost through drying.

It’s used widely in many different cuisines – salads, raitas, sauces and jellies, as a garnish for curries and casseroles. Chopped finely into yogurt makes a delicious accompaniment to many dishes. If you don’t have coriander for garnish, quite often mint will work as a replacement.

A few sprigs in a jug of ice water makes a very refreshing drink in summer.

Mint also makes a great tonic tea by itself or blended with other tea herbs.

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare


Botanical name: Foeniculum vulgare

How to grow it: Fennel is a very hardy perennial that prefers full sun, but seems to cope in partly shady conditions too.

Plants respond well to good drainage and regular watering, but handle periods of drought well too.

I grow mostly Florence fennel as it produces a bulbous vegetable and a little bit of Bronze fennel for it’s appearance. Both varieties produce good seed and plenty of leaf growth. The flowers preceding seeds attract wasps into the garden which helps keep pest levels down.

If you ever let a Fennel plant self seed, you’ll find it comes up everywhere in the following season – it’s up to you whether that’s good or bad – I just remove the ones I don’t want like a weed. To avoid rampant self seeding – cut the flower heads of early before they set seed.

You can grow fennel in pots, but I’ve found it can get straggly – the plant has a long tap root which doesn’t like being contained.

Nutrition: Great source of vitamins A,B,C & E, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium & manganese. Fennel has too many medicinal uses to list here, but it is a great tonic to your digestive system, promotes calmness and can improve libido.


Using it in the kitchen: Fennel is one of those unique plants in that every part of the plant can be eaten and is used widely. Generally speaking, all parts of the plant have a mild anise flavour.

Firstly the young leaves can be eaten in salads, in egg dishes and as a garnish.

The stems and base can be used as a fresh or cooked vegetable. I like to grow Florence Fennel for it’s thick base which I love to slow roast with garlic and olive oil. Can also be grated into salads, chopped into soups & sliced thinly into stir fries.

The bulbous roots of Florence Fennel

The seeds are used in curries and slow cooked meals, and can be chewed to suppress appetite or reduce sugar cravings.

The roots are delicious too as a roasted or steamed vegetable similar to parsnip


Fennel is a great survival plant as it self seeds easily and is hardy to most conditions.


vietnamese mint persicaria odorata

Vietnamese mint

Botanical Name: Persicaria odorata

Some other names: Vietnamese coriander, Laksa leaves, Hot mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Rau ram

How to grow it:

Vietnamese mint is of those “hard to kill” plants – it will grow anywhere, and if it likes it’s spot will become invasive. It is easy to remove though and quite a pretty plant.

In warmer areas it will grow all year round and in colder areas it will rebound quickly after frost. I find the summer heat will cause it to lose some vigour, so suggest planting in a shady position that gets a bit of morning sun.

Vietnamese mint will grow in shallow water or bog situations, and in fact it’s more likely to get invasive with unlimited access to water. You could try it in a closed container to prevent it spreading.

I find it grows well without addition of fertilizer – perhaps an occasional foliar spray is all that’s needed.

Propogation is very simple – just root some cuttings in water. Once they’ve rooted, plant them in the garden & keep watered for a few days. You could skip all this by just putting cuttings in the ground as rain is expected – they so easily strike.

vietnamese mint persicaria odorata
Vietnamese mint stems root easily in water

Great plant for the greenhouse – it will love the water & heat. Will also grow great in pots – just keep it well watered.


Leaves high in protein & potassium and other vitamin & minerals. Many herbal actions.


Using it in the kitchen:

How you use Vietnamese mint depends on how much you like the flavour. If you don’t like coriander – then forget it – you won’t like vietnamese mint. It has a strong flavour similar to coriander – but hot. The leaves can be eaten in combination with other greens in a salad or on a sandwich.

If on the other hand you do like coriander, you’ll most likely enjoy these leaves added to oriental dishes at the end of cooking. They can be a real bonus for your cooking as they’ll grow in the heat whereas coriander usually won’t – all year coriander if you like!

As one of it’s common names suggest, these leaves are great in a laksa or hot soup – added at the end like a garnish.

vietnamese mint persicaria odorata
Vietnamese mint – remove the stems before use

A good survival food as the the plant is so hardy and the leaves so useful in asian cooking.

lemon balm lime balm Melissa officinalis

Lemon Balm and Lime Balm

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis

Some other names: Balm, Bee Balm, Honey plant, Cure all, Melissa

How to grow it:

Lemon Balm is a perennial herb to about 50cm which is so easy to grow it can become invasive. It does well and has a stronger flavour in full sun, but will produce larger, more tender leaves for a longer period if grown in partial shade. I grow it in several patches with varied sunlight and moisture & find that I have it available all year round.

In the subtropics and tropics (where I live) it does better in Autumn to spring, in cooler climates it might die back & resprout in spring.

Will do well in pots if well watered, mulched & fed – again, preferring a partially shaded position.

The simplest way to propogate is by root division- just grab a handful of roots and all from the middle of your patch, separate the pieces and plant directly into the ground. Keep watered for a couple of days and they’ll strike easily. Will also strike well from cuttings or grown from seed.

Nowadays it’s also very easy to obtain in garden outlets or online.

Lemon balm is easily propagated by root division


Lemon balm contains vitamins A, B & C and volatile oils that have many herbal actions. It is well known to be calming and sedative – just try grabbing a handful of leaves and take a deep breath with the aroma! Also thought to ba a natural antioxidant.

Using it in the kitchen:

The leaves by themselves are not particularly palatable – a little bit chewy for my liking. Combined with other greens though, they go very well in salads & sandwiches and attract many comments from guests in my home. The lemon flavour is very striking & pleasant.

Leaves can also be added to hot dishes, but you’ll need to add a good handful or two to have much impact flavour-wise.

Leaves used fresh in salads or make a soothing tea.

Probably Lemon Balm’s best known use is as a calming herbal tea. Simply grab two handfuls of leaves and stems per cup of boiled water. Allow to steep for several minutes. Personally, I like to add a variety of different leaves to the lemon balm too.

Other info:

Although I’ve written here about lemon balm, I actually prefer Lime Balm for it’s flavour. It’s an identical plant in apearance & uses, but has a refreshing lime flavour instead of lemon. It might be a little harder to obtain in your local area though.



How to grow it:

Ginger is a hardy perennial plant that is grown for it’s underground rhizomes and used in cooking, medicine and as a tea.

In nature, Ginger is an understorey plant, and so I tend to plant it under other trees. In commercial cultivation though, it’s grown usually in full sun and no doubt has higher yields.

The main ingredient needed for ginger is warmth. it will do well planted in spring in both subtropical and tropical areas. In cooler areas, you’ll have a shorter growing season and may suffer from smaller rhizomes – still worth growing if you can.

Although tolerant of drought due to the underground rhizome system, ginger does best in moist, well drained situations where it will produce large crops of swollen rhizomes. Best harvest time is when the foliage dies down for winter, but I just harvest it as needed – the rhizomes are smaller, milder & more tender early in the season, and will be much larger & more pungent later in Autumn & winter.

Propogation is by root division in spring – simply dig up some roots and put them in their new position. In warm areas, you can plant them right up until summer & still get good crops. Just get a piece of root from an organic source, break it up into pieces & plant into position. It strikes very easily.

Ginger rhizomes dug up for division and replanting.

Will do well in pots for a year or two until it becomes potbound & you have to dig it all up & start again.


High in potassium, manganese, copper & magnesium, and vitmans A & B. Many beneficial herbal actions.

Ginger is thought to be very good for your digestive & circulatory systems and will reduce nausea from morning sickness & motion sickness. Helps ward off colds & flu. Add a few slices to you tea or on it’s own.


Using it in the kitchen:

Ginger is mainly used as a spice in both savoury & sweet dishes.

You can grate, chop, mince or slice it into stirfries, curries, soups usually with some garlic & chilli. I find it has a special synergy with sweet potato & pumpkin – try it in your next pumpkin soup for a flavour treat. Also worth trying grated into your favorite meat marinade.

Ginger root straight from the garden

I try and add it to food as much as possible for it’s health benefits, but beware – it can have a dominating flavour or actually taste quite hot.

Stores fairly well in a dark dry spot in the pantry, or can be sliced thinly, dried and reconstituted in water as required (or just added to hot dishes as is).

Ginger is a great survival food for it’s hardiness, it’s long harvesting time, it’s usefulness in cooking & for it’s health benefits.

Garlic chives Allium Tuberosum

Garlic chives

Botanical Name: Allium Tuberosum

Some other names: Thai leeks, Chinese Chives, Gow choy, Oriental garlic.

How to grow it:

Garlic chives are a perennial herb to about 50cm with strap like leaves that distinguish it from it’s close cousin Onion chives. I’ve found it to be much more hardy & prolific than onion chives. Handles all soils well & does best in full sun.

In warmer climates it will grow & can be harvested all year round, in colder climates it might die down in winter, but resprout pretty quickly when the weather warms up.

Will benefit from the addition of fertiliser and regular watering, but seems to grow happily without much care

Will do very well in pots but will need to be pulled up & thinned out every couple of years.

Garlic chives have a very strong root system and will handle neglect where most other plants won’t. Often when I’ve seen a run-down vegetable patch, the only plant outcompeting the weeds & handling drought are the garlic chives. Seems to grow faster if it’s harvested regularly.

It grows easily from seed, but once you have plants established, the best way to propogate is to dig the whole plant up, divide the bulbs and roots into small sections & replant. Within a week or two, the plants are on their way again.

You won’t have to look very hard to find seeds or plants at your local nursery.


High in Vitamin C also rich in vitamins A & B, iron, calcium, sulfur and magnesium. Good tonic herb to take regularly.

Using it in the kitchen:

Garlic chives can be used in all dishes – cooked & uncooked where the delicate flavour of onions & garlic are required.

The upper green parts can be used in salads & sandwiches to great effect. They can be chopped finely, but I prefer them cut in 2-3cm sections as shown below – the flavour seems a little more noticeable.

When used in cooking, the upper parts can be added to soups, casseroles, omelettes & stir fries but I suggest adding them only at the last minute or the flavour will be lost. The lower white parts can be treated just like you would leeks, or my favourite is to add them to stir fries for a delicious garlic flavour burst.

Rarely a meal goes by that I’m not using garlic chives both for the flavour & health giving properties.


Garlic chives are a great survival food as they seem to survive any conditions and have great nutrition. If I was in a survival situation, I’d cherish them for the flavour they would add to my food.


Botanical Name: Alpinia galanga

How to grow it: Galangal is a hardy perennial plant to 2 metres that is grown for it’s underground rhizomes and used to flavour oriental flavoured dishes.

Grows in full sun to shade, handles annual dry seasons well, but responds well to lots of water.

Grows all year round in the subtropics & tropics, and will die back and resprout in spring in cooler areas. Doesn’t like frost, so in cooler areas use as an understorey plant.

For large and easy to harvest rhizomes, plant in a deep, loose soil.

Propogation is by root division basically anytime it’s warm – simply dig up some roots and put them in their new position. I’ve often struck plants from rhizomes found in fruit and vegetable stores and markets, so keep your eye out.

Galangal propagation by rhizome division

Will do well in pots for a year or two until it becomes potbound & you have to dig it all up & start again.

Using it in the kitchen:

Galangal is used almost exclusively in asian soups, curries & curry pastes. It has a unique aroma that adds authenticity to these dishes, and in my view, cannot be omitted or replaced. Lucky it’s a gorgeous plant & virtually unkillable!

Galangal – irreplaceable for asian food fans

Slice it thinly and add it to soups, or chop it finely and add it to stir fries, curries or curry pastes.

It also has a pleasant perfumy aroma that goes well with herbal teas.

Not the most important of survival plants for it’s very limited use, but it’s really easy to grow & looks great. If you love asian food – it actually is a survival plant!!

chilli tree Capsicum frutescens

Chilli Tree

Botanical Name: Capsicum frutescens

Some other names: Pepper, hot pepper, chili

How to grow it: The Chilli tree is a perennial bush to about two metres that provides generous supplies of consistently flavoured chillies.

I’m unsure of the botanical name for the species I grow (I bought it many years ago at a market stall), but it differs from all other chillies I’ve grown by the fact that it develops into a larger plant & rebounds more strongly in spring. Many of the other chilli varieties I’ve grown tend to struggle with winter & then regrow at less vigour than the first year.

It handles a wide range of conditions – from drought to quite wet (not boggy) but will respond with better fruiting it grown in well drained soils that receive regular water. It prefers heat, but would grow in cooler climates with a shorter fruiting season. In my cool sub-tropical climate it gives fruit for at least 6 months of the year.

Responds well to fertilising and mulching – go easy on high nitrogen fertilisers – you want fruit not leaf!

Propogation works from tip cuttings, but is much easier by seed. Just pick some ripe fruits in late Autumn, dry them out over winter, and plant them when the weather warms up. You’ll get good crops in the first year.

Chilli tree fruit – seeds of the ripe fruit will sprout in warmer weather.

It does well in large pots – You might have to trim it’s roots every 2-3 years for best results.


Nutrition: Fruit is high in protein & contain vitamins A, B, & C, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc.

It has many herbal actions and is considered very good for the circulatory system and the blood. It is thought that regular consumption reduces the risk of heart attack.


Using it in the kitchen:

Chillies can be harvested at anytime they are fully grown, whether they are green, red, or any colour in between.

Anyone who cooks would be familiar with their use, but if you’d like to get more chilli into your diet, try adding them to the omelettes, scrambled eggs, soups, pasta sauces, and basically any dish that could handle a bit of spicing up.

At the end of their season, I harvest all the red ones I can, dry them out, crush them slightly and then put them in a bottle with cold pressed olive oil. After a couple of months this infusion tastes very good (and hot!) and can be added cold at the end of cooking (stirred in after the heat is turned off), or even drizzled onto pizzas for a bit of bite.

I can also vouch for chilli’s ability to ward off & reduce symptoms of colds and flus. Make a strong tea of dried chilli, fresh ginger slices, crushed garlic and lemon juice – add honey if you’d like the tea sweetened.. During the day or days you’re fighting off the cold, dilute this tea with hot water & sip regularly throughout the day. It works!

Chilli tree is a great survival plant as it grows for many years in a wide range of conditions, gives an abundance of fruit which is great for cooking and for your health.