Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Water Loving Herb

A very useful herb for the Southeast Asian kitchen garden, the Rice Paddy Herb (Rau Om in Vietnamese) loves water. Do you have a fish pond?

Our original cuttings were obtained by purchasing a bunch of Rice Paddy Herb from a street-side herb seller in the Sydney community of Cabramatta. This lovely, aromatic bunch of cuttings was placed in a glass of water in our kitchen and, within a short time, some of the cuttings had begun to sprout roots. These, we then potted up, with plenty of organic fertiliser.

Happy in an aquatic environment

The pots then were placed in a shallow section of our little fish pond… where they thrived. Their roots filled the pot quickly, the plant stems multiplied and where longer stems arched out of the pot and touched the water, these took root too. These rooted stems were detached for new plants.

Rice Paddy Herb with rooted stem

Our most advanced plant has been removed from its aquatic home to a small garden bed close to our kitchen. It lives happily with kangkung (Water Morning Glory), serai (Lemon Grass) and laksa (Vietnamese Mint), all of which require more water than most garden plants. Provided with a large dose of organic fertiliser and a heavy layer of mulch, the Rice Paddy Herb has settled well with daily watering.

In its new protected location

A major test ahead will be the arrival of winter. Will our warm-climate herb persist through the cold weather of suburban Sydney? In its kitchen garden home, it is sheltered by the branches of an overhanging kaffir lime tree. Its pond-dwelling brothers and sisters have no such overhead cover… It will be interesting to observe which, if any, make it through the winter months. Time will tell!

Our Rice Paddy Herb (Limnophila aromatica) is a pretty little plant, especially when it produces its gorgeous lilac and white trumpet flowers. However, it will be valuable in the kitchen too. Its fragrant leaves, reminiscent of cumin, will be used as an ingredient in noodle soups and in fresh spring rolls. 

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