Your paper is giving away free herb seeds.
Your paper is giving away free herb seeds.

Herbs might not make you smart, but they taste good

MINT made you smarter, basil protected you from (or maybe attracted) scorpions, rosemary fixed impotence and sage cured just about everything.

Ancient "wisdom" abounds on herbs, much of it dubious - half a millennium ago, Spanish physician Nicolás Bautista Monardes reckoned the new-fangled herb called tobacco was an infallible cure for everything, including cancer. 

But there is good science behind some medicinal use of herbs (pronounced "erbs" until the 19th century, and still today in the US).

Garlic and chives contain compounds with mild stimulant, diuretic, and antiseptic powers.

Rosemary contains antioxidants. So does parsley, along with vitamins K, C and A.

Coriander contains antibacterial chemicals. Oil of thyme is an antiseptic and antifungal - one university study has found it might help treat acne.

Herbs were also used to mask nasty odours back in the days when personal and public hygiene wasn't a thing.

But by far the widest use of herbs has been in cooking - possibly since prehistoric times.

Imagine a pasta sauce without basil or oregano, a taco sauce without even a hint of chili, a mint sauce without, well, mint.

Herbs, dried or fresh, have become a vital part of most of the world's cuisines.

In almost all cases, fresh herbs are best. And if you can step into the back yard or reach out the kitchen window to snip off a few live leaves, all the better.

We can help you with that.

There will be 12 different varieties in all over the next two weeks - a week of delicious herb seeds and a week of beautiful flower seeds.

Redeem a token from our paper each day and exchange it for a free packet of seeds from participating newsagents.

The seeds will be:

Saturday Sept 13: Basil

Monday: Coriander

Tuesday: Italian Parsley

Wednesday: Thyme

Thursday: Oregano

Friday: Chives

Saturday: Sunflower

Monday: Zinnia

Tuesday: Golden Everlastings

Wednesday: Snapdragon

Thursday: Fresh Flower Mix

Friday: Petunia

Then we'll be giving away a complete garden makeover over the following two weeks. Stay tuned for details.

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