The addition of herbs to your dish will not only improve the flavour of your meal but also looks good on the eye. But how can one draw a distinction of these “leaves”? Ever wondered where to find out more information on the different kinds of herbs are there for you? The Village Mag this month, decided to answer some of those questions by looking at more cost effective ways to grow and take care of your herbs in the comfort of your own yard.
Herbs are essential as vegetables in the kitchen garden. As well as complementing your vegetable crops in cooking, they can also be used for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes, such as in health promoting teas, scented soaps, and soothing hand creams.
Taste the difference
Freshly gathered, herbs have a far superior aroma and flavour to their store-bought equivalents, and because of this, you’ll need to use less than specified in the recipe.
How and where to grow
Grow herbs from seed in seed or cell trays under cover and then transplant outside, or plant seeds directly in the ground. Herbs seeds or seedlings can either be dispersed between rows of vegetables or allocated their own spot in the kitchen garden. They usually work well in a space near the kitchen so that you don’t have too far to walk when you have a span sizzling on the stove waiting for its herbal ingredient. They don’t usually thrive in an acid soil, they like well-drained soil in a sheltered and sunny spot. Don’t add manure to herbs, but instead add some compost or leaf mould. Clever weeds from the herb garden as soon as they appear. Harvest leaves and shoot tips regularly. This keeps the plants in shape and prevents them going to seed. It also encourages new, fresh growth.
How to use
This popular herb is grown for its strong, aromatic fragrance and flavour, and sweet basil is the most common variety. Eaten both raw and cooked, its leaves are great in salads, pasta and other dishes.
Grow outside or inside depending on your local weather conditions. Basil is a warm climate plant, so it prefers a moist soil, and is best sown in early spring (inside) or during late spring (outside, when the weather has warmed up).
When the seedlings have begun to grow, they will need thinning out in larger, approximately 5-inch pots, around five seedlings per pot. When they’ve grown too big for the pots, transplant them onto bigger containers. Choose the strongest looking seedlings when thinning out, but don’t throw away the excess – use them in your cooking to add that fresh flavor.
How to use
Mint has many culinary uses, but it’s especially valuable for enhancing the flavour of your other vegetable crops, such as freshly dug new potatoes and tender young peas and beans. It’s also great for making refreshing and therapeutic teas.
Mint grows abundantly and can all too easily take over other plants and herbs. To prevent it from being invasive, grow in pots and then transplant the whole pot into the ground to confine the roots. Harvest the leaves and shoot tips as required. Trim the stems to ground level midsummer for fresh supplies in the fall.
How to use?
Probably the most widely used culinary herb, parsley adds its fresh, aromatic flavour to sauces, soups and salads. The flat leaved variety, as opposed to curly leaved, is the parsley of choice for Mediterranean dishes.
You can grow curly leaved and flat leaved varieties from seed in early spring through midsummer in situ in most, rich soil. Parsley likes either dappled shade or full sun. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart, and water well in dry spells.