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Friday, 9 August 2019

Herbs and how to grow them

Linda Ross writes:
"Growing your own produce is increasingly popular these days. If you're keen to give it a go but are a bit apprehensive about your gardening skills, herbs are a good way to get started and they're instantly rewarding. You can buy a small pot at the nursery, plant it and harvest (just a little bit) immediately. And if that's not enough to convince you, the other big pluses of herbs are that they'll grow just about anywhere and thrive with hot weather and sunshine.

You don't need a purpose-built herb garden. You can plant your herbs in a pot, trough or window-box, or pop some in among other plants in the garden.

Growing rosemary
An evergreen shrub, rosemary likes hot weather and lasts a number of years, even if the soil remains dry. It makes a good hedge and will grow happily in a container — trim it into shape at the end of summer. Rosemary is the perfect complement to lamb, and its woody stems make great skewers. It can be grown from cuttings.

Growing chives
An essential ingredient in potato salads, this perennial herb is a member of the onion family and looks a little like grass or a slender green onion. Chives grow happily in the garden or in pots, and need a sunny spot with slightly moist soil. Simply snip off the outer leaves as you need them. Chives have pretty pink flowers in summer, which make a lovely (and edible) addition to salads.

Growing parsley
One of the best herbs to begin with is parsley. You can buy it in punnets or small pots, but it's also extremely easy (and cheap) to grow from seed.

If you have a reasonable soil that holds moisture, just make a shallow furrow in damp soil, and sprinkle in some seeds. Alternatively, fill a punnet with potting mix and sow a few parsley seeds, then transplant when the seedlings are large enough to handle.

Parsley shoots in three to four weeks, so you won't need to wait long to see results. Hand-weed and watch out for hungry slugs or snails. Also, keep the soil moist by watering gently with a watering can with a large rose, or use a gentle setting on the hose nozzle so as not to disturb the new seedlings.

Although parsley is a herb, it can also be used decoratively in the garden. It makes an attractive border plant, perfect for edging a sunny part of the ornamental garden or even the vegie patch.

When well-grown, parsley lasts for many months.

Growing basil
This herb is easy to grow from seed — sow basil in spring and summer, then collect the seeds in autumn, as the plant will die off in winter. Key in Mediterranean cooking, basil is also used for medicinal purposes — it is said to relieve headaches, anxiety and mild depression, as well as aid digestion and stomach upsets.

Basil is tasty on these Courgette / Zucchini Pizza Boats
see recipe details here

Growing mint
Spearmint, Vietnamese mint, apple mint and pineapple mint are just some of the many varieties available. Mint is easy to grow in shady, moist areas, and in pots. You can harvest the leaves as needed and use them in drinks, Asian salads and sweets. Mint-infused tea is said to relieve anxiety and tension.

Parsley and basil eventually flower, seed and die down, but mint is there for the long haul. Common mint spreads through the garden via underground stems, and for this reason it is usually recommended to grow it in a pot.

Mint prefers a moist patch of soil, so its spread is usually curtailed when the plant runs out of moisture. Mint also does quite well in light shade and tends to shrivel in full sun. Once you've conquered ordinary mint, branch out into some of the more interesting scented mints such as lemon, ginger and applemint.

Mint is fairly fool-proof, but it does attract tiny caterpillars that chew the leaves, often leaving nothing more than bare stalks. Check mint regularly for these pests, particularly when you see chewed leaves and droppings. You can try to control them by squashing them, or could also apply a biological control such as Dipel. Pinch off any damaged growth and give chewed plants a good drink of water. A dose of liquid plant food encourages new growth.

Growing thyme
A groundcover that likes to creep over the earth or spill out of a pot, thyme needs a sunny, sheltered position. Available in many varieties, including lemon, woolly, caraway and common, this herb is great to walk on. A delicious flavouring for chicken, thyme also has antiseptic and antifungal properties, and is said to counter the effects of ageing.

Rustic Roast Chicken Soup uses thyme leaves for added flavour
see recipe details here
Growing borage
One of the prettiest herbs, borage leaves taste like fresh cucumber. It will grow from seed and, as its blue flowers attract bees to aid pollination, plant it near citrus trees and passionfruit vines to increase their harvest.

In the kitchen
Use your mortar and pestle to pound fresh herbs to make dressings, marinades and rubs. What a lot of people don't realise, is that not only a herb's leaves can be eaten — the flowers, too, are delicious in salads. Use the blooms from chives, nasturtiums, borage, lavender, fennel and marigolds to brighten up a leafy green salad.

Garden care
Herbs need sunlight, good drainage and regular water during dry weather. Most prefer good soil, but don't be tempted to add too much compost or manure, as you'll get rapid growth at the expense of flavour. (A good rule of thumb is to add one bag of compost or manure for every square metre.) Some Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary and sage, prefer poorer, lime-rich soils. Mulch the soil around the herbs, taking care not to build the mulch up against their stems — about 5cm of sugarcane mulch is adequate.

When planting herbs in containers, use a good-quality potting mix and add water crystals to help the plants survive the summer heat. Instead of feeding herbs with chemical fertilisers, use a light mulch of cow manure and a weak watering of seaweed solution. That way, you can enjoy the leaves and flowers you're eating, knowing they're free of nasty residues.

Summer jobs
Continually harvest herbs to keep them trim and shapely. When it comes to thyme, mint, sage and lemon balm, regular pruning — by shortening the stems by more than half — will rejuvenate your herbs when they're looking tired. Most herbs planted in the garden will last the summer well, but potted herbs will need watering every day, and sometimes twice a day, when the weather is really hot. Take cuttings of herbs such as rosemary, thyme and lavender throughout the summer.

Autumn jobs
When the weather becomes cooler, annual herbs, such as basil, coriander and dill, will begin to flower and set seed. Never fear, once mature, these seeds can be collected by hand, then stored in paper bags in a cool, dry spot until next spring, when you can sow them and start the cycle all over again.

Frost-sensitive herbs like rosemary should be brought into warm spots, while herbs such as parsley, sage and thyme will carry on through the winter cold.

The above taken from article here

Do you grow your own herbs? 
Do you have any favourite herbs that you like to use?

As regular readers know, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes! However, not all the recipes ideas featured in this blog may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

As always thanks for reading, and if you have left a comment, thank-you. We hope you come back and visit again soon.

All the best Jan


Fun60 said...

I bought some different herb seeds in the spring to plant. They are still in the packets! Maybe your post will inspire me to plant them.

Catarina said...

I grow all the herbs mentioned... it is such a joy!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What wonderful information. I used to love to have some fresh herbs in a pot but I've gotten away from that! I need to plant some in pots in my courtyard! Thanks for the encouragement!

Elephant's Child said...

We have several herbs in our garden (and a bay tree) and I do like being able to add fresh herbs to our food. Or even just to crush them in my fingers and to smell the delicious fragrances. Parsley is a big fail though. I cannot get it to 'take'.

Rain said...

I have been successful growing pretty much everything, but for some reason I CAN'T grow mint or chives!!! I always need to buy the plants!

sage said...

I love having fresh herbs (but actually have a full garden living here where I get to crops a year). Now, it is in the down stage with only okra, egg plant, and peppers producing (herbs are grown in containers). When I had limited space, I grew only herbs.

William Kendall said...

I'd be out of my depth trying to grow anything.

Sandra Cox said...

I love having rosemary bushes. I've grown mint--for the cat:) Heh. It can be very invasive.
Great post.

Tom said...

...I'll pass on this!

Miss Val's Creations said...

These are great tips. I am not familiar with borage. I am not sure it is available here. Basil and dill grow like crazy for us and we love them. They are so easy to grow from cuttings so we will never have to buy either again.

Iris Flavia said...

Mint, parsley - and basil from scratch over here :-)

baili said...

this is touching post for me dear Jan !

reminded me days when mom used to grow all these in her garden and even she would send some of them to her friends :)

thank you for really important and informative posts , i love all of them but they are seasonal ,not available whole years , i wish i can have everyday specially mint and parsley

Jo said...

Borage flowers are also edible. I used to grow it at the allotment and add the flowers to ice cubes to fancy them up.

Sami said...

We have parsley, basil, mint, and plenty of rosemary in our garden.
It's so great to pick a few fresh herbs and put them in your food.

RO said...

I've been growing mind and sweet basil and been successful. Not too much with the other stuff(lol), but these tips will help a lot! Hugs, RO

eileeninmd said...


This is my first year growing Basil, Parsley, Sage, Thyme and Mint. I enjoy using all the fresh herbs. Great post, thanks for sharing. Happy weekend!

Conniecrafter said...

I have often gave the thought to growing some on my window sil in the kitchen but haven't done so yet

Teresa said...

Yo cultivo varias en el jardín. Besitos.

Jeanie said...

Some good tips. I have a small herb garden with parsley, oregano, thyme (one of my favorites), mint, dill, sage and basil (the other favorite). But with our winters, only a few come back and I have poor light for them in the house.