True Locals: Johanna Krug and her herb garden
Johanna Krug has her little paradise right on her doorstep: Her herb garden. On 700 square meters she has made her own dream come true. A huge variety of colourful and fragrant plants blossoms in her garden at the Josl Hof in Unterleutasch – even though she was told that nothing would ever grow there…
Despite all expectations
“Nothing grows in Leutasch anyway, that’s a futile attempt!” This is what Johanna’s mother-in-law told her when she wanted to start cultivating a garden on the Josl Hof deep in the Leutasch valley. After all, with its location at over 1.110m above sea level Leutasch is one of the snowiest places in Tyrol and has a very harsh climate, especially in winter. Back then Johanna replied: “I can’t imagine that! I would like to try it nevertheless.”
38 years ago she started growing herbs and since then, the garden has grown steadily. “It’s almost 4 times as big now,” laughs Johanna, who has a warm smile on her lips with every sentence. It all started with a small sage plant. At that time she tried to plant different herbs and that worked quite well. Now Johanna cultivates almost all the herbs you can imagine – or rather those that do grow in Leutasch after all. “Some herbs I have to plant three or four times until I finally find the place they like. Or the herbs find their own favorite place by sowing themselves out.”
Much more than just beautiful on the eye
Since her first sage plant in 1996, Johanna has learned and experimented a lot. “I’ve turned my hobby into my profession,” she enthuses. She processes her herbs into a huge variety of products: homemade teas, herbal cushions, herbal baths, herbal salt and much more. These products are very well received in the Leutascher Bauernladen, a small shop offering local and handmade products. She loves to make tinctures, ointments and creams for herself. She also uses her herbs sensibly for the cows. In addition to the master’s certificate in rural housekeeping, Johanna is a trained homeopath for cattle as well as a qualified herbal pedagogue. She never runs out of ideas for new products. “I would love to try out everything I read right away! But unfortunately there are so many ideas and yet so little time.” Since this winter, however, she has started to smoke local herbs. This also has a long tradition in Tyrol.
Everything is hand-made
From cultivation to harvest, drying and processing of the herbs: almost every step is done by hand. Johanna’s garden is huge – but too small for machines. But Johanna appreciates the work very much, even if it is often physically hard. “I am a grounded person. I like to feel the soil with my bare hands. Good soil is the most important thing for a gardener”. In summer she spends every day in the garden, from early in the morning until late in the evening if the weather allows.
Useful little helpers
There is no such things as “weed” in Johanna’s vocabulary. She knows that any plant can be used. That’s why she has a tip for everyone who can’t get rid of their “weeds”: “Most of the time, the herbs come to you when you need them, so you should find out what the plant is good for. Stinging nettles, dandelions, goutweeds and many more can be used well and each herb has its own effect. If you use them often, the growth can be contained and you do something good with it.”
That’s Johanna’s rule in her garden. Every herb can grow where it fits. “As long as, of course, I can still get to all plants to harvest! Stinging nettles between the mint are therefore not so clever!”, she laughs.
Winter had the Leutasch firmly in its hands this year. The amount of snow doesn’t bother the plants because it acts like a blanket for the fragile flowers. The frost, on the other hand, damages them a lot. The weather was a bit crazy this spring and brought snow and frost until mid May. But with her skills and knowledge Johanna will certainly make her garden blossom and bloom again this year!
Johanna was born in Lower Austria. Work made her come to Leutasch – and love made her stay.
Visiting Johanna’s herb garden
If you would like to visit Johannas gorgeous herb garden yourself, you are more than welcome to do so. Johanna likes to share her knowledge about herbs and their cultivation and use: Every second Thursday in summer she takes a guided tour of the herb garden and introduces visitors to her to her little paradise. With the Olympiaregion Seefeld Card the guided tour is free of charge. You can find more information here!
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Fotos: Fabrice Dall’Anese, Iris Krug, Florian Steiner