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herbs A-Z

 

 

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B

basil

fantasic in Italian recipes. The most familiar is sweet basil. Other varieties include bush or greek basil, which has a more compact shape, and smaller leaves. often used in salads. Lemon basil. as you would guess, has a strong lemon flavour. Purple basil, appears to be just like sweet basil, only ...well, obviously, purple.

I finally got the hang of growing basil. It took me years, and eventually, I worked out what I was doing that was wrong.. I was trying to create pots of basil just as they sell in the supermarket. So I would sow the seed, they would germinate, become overcrowded and never really develop into much. I now suspect the supermarket pots are made up of plants that were grown separately, then pulled up, shoved into a pot with some friends, and sold. And no big shock then that these pots never seem to last. The truth is basil needs a bit of space. So, now I sow, and prick out into individual pots. It seems to do best in the greenhouse - where it gets regular watering and more protection from slugs than outside. Pinching out the tips makes it bushier, and this is best done, in my opinion, by occasionally harvesting some for the kitchen.

C

chamomile

Flowers are used to make chamomile tea - which is reported to have many uses including relieving stress and menstrual pains. See chamomile lawn

coriander

Grown for both its seeds and leaves - is popular in curries. Leaves are good in sandwiches and salads

M

mint

Mint is a very useful herb, but also very invasive - best thing is to plant it in a pot - don't even try this thing with an old bucket with no bottom - it will probably still get out and take over the garden!. It does very well in a pot. I started mine in a herb pot with chives parsely and oregano. Only the chives are still holding out against the mint invasion, but thats ok, I have the other herbs elsewhere in the garden now.

You can grow mint from seed, but really I wouldn't. Best to try the mint before you buy it (just a little bit!), as the flavour can vary,, then if you like it, purchase the plant and take it home to put it in a pot. Did I mention the pot?

recipes: mint - preserving for winter use

S

sorrel

hardy perennial easy to grow, sharp lemony flavour. Great in salads and cooked. contains oxalic acid - so tempting though it is, limit how often you eat it. I have found the easiest way to sow is to sow in the greenhosue in a long thin container, then plant the whole lot out as part of the row once growing.

sowing time: Mar - May

harvest Jun - Oct or Apr to Oct once established. harvest by picking a few leaves from each plant

recipes: sorrel soup, courgette and sorrel soup