Updated: Apr 22
Grow these easy kitchen herbs and create a bee friendly garden at the same time.
Creating a functional garden that yields edibles and attracts beneficial bugs, insects, birds and wildlife to your yard doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult.
Once established, most of these plants will take care of themselves and provide ready access to useful herbs you can use in the kitchen.
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Bees are incredibly important and have been declining at a rapid pace for the past few years due to pesticide use and disease.
'They’re essential pollinators – pollinating 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world'
Dr Anneke Veenstra, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University
Without bees, we're in serious trouble because we do rely on them to pollinate our fruits and vegetables.
Planting a variety of herbs, flowers (of different colours) and edibles helps to provide a good food source for bees and means you wont need to be working hard hand pollinating your home grown edibles.
Even if you don't need pollination in your yard, a bee friendly garden helps everyone (including the planet of course!)
The other great news is that when left to flower, these herbs will drop seeds that help to create a continual cycle of new growth.
Bees ADORE lavender and not only is it useful around the home and in DIY recipes, many varieties are edible too.
It's an extremely low maintenance plant that can survive in poor, sandy soil and is drought tolerant, making it perfect for dry Australian conditions (and forgetful gardeners).
The best part is that Native Australian Blue Banded Bees will come to visit too and hopefully buzz pollinate your tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants.
Do save some lavender for yourself - follow these tips on drying the flower heads and ways to use them.
Rosemary is another herb that thrives in harsh Australian conditions and when flowering, will attract bees and other insects to your garden.
Grow your own cuttings in a jar of water or plant from seeds. Once established you will have ample organic rosemary for using in the kitchen.
I find Rosemary to be very slow growing in my garden, so I collect bunches of it from friends and family, for drying and cooking so I don't need to rely on supermarket herbs.
Oregano flowers through summer and will attract plenty of bees.
This herb should be a staple in your kitchen (and garden) and can be used to flavour any Mediterranean style meal.
It's an essential herb in Greek cuisine, and a great item to add into homemade sauces, pizza, breads and more.
Aphrodite, the Greek goddess, grew oregano in her garden on Mt Olympus and it symbolises happiness and joy.
It's easily grown from seeds and requires minimal care.
Everyone needs more Thyme in their garden (sorry, bad joke!).
It's actually a super useful companion plant for cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries and a few others. It helps pollination, but also assists in repelling some of those bugs you don't want in your veggie patch. Heirloom seeds are the best (in my humble opinion), however any will do.
I've also heard the rumour that bees feeding on Thyme make a great flavour honey (I'm yet to sample some myself).
In cooking, add it to roast chicken with a little salt and lemon, put it in soups, stews and breads.
Don't be scared of trying to grow Borage.
I always wanted to grow this handy herb but it seemed just a little too complicated.
This one pictured above actually grew all on it's own (as in I didn't even plant it!) and when it popped up recently in my garden I was pretty excited.
(Well, at first I was a bit creeped out because it looked like some kind of hairy alien plant in the beginning. I kept thinking about those carnivorous plants from The Day of The Triffids!).
Bees LOVE blue flowers and Borage is self seeding, so once you've grown it, it should stick around.
Leaves can be eaten but must be cooked first as they are hairy and a little spiky like nettle (wear gloves). I've eaten a lot of crazy things but I think I'm going to skip eating the leaves this time.
The flowers are edible and can be added to salads, used to decorate desserts or frozen into ice-cubes.
Basil is a an all time favourite of mine and a brilliant great self seeding plant. When left to flower, it attracts lots of insects to the garden, including bees of course!
This is also a ridiculously easy herb to start to grow on your kitchen windowsill too.
Not all seed grown basil will produce fertile seeds so i recommend getting hold of organic and/ heirloom basil seeds if you can.
A Note on Seeds
Heirloom seeds are probably the best option if you're growing herbs from scratch and want to ensure the future seeds produced are actually going to grow and not be sterile.
They're called heirloom because they have been grown and passed down many generations of plants to perfect them, rather than artificially tampered with.
This makes them perfect for backyard gardeners and they yield great tasting home grown edibles.