Spring herb garden
FOOD

Spring herb garden

Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your cooking. Grow herbs in your own garden — it's easy!

Growing a herb garden

 

You don't need a green thumb to reap the benefits of herbs. You can grow your own herb garden in pots or in a window box in your kitchen. Read on for our herb-by-herb guide to getting started.

 

Parsley

A popular garnish, and an underrated seasoning, parsley is perfect with eggs, soups, sauces and fish. It complements other herbs, and is an indispensable component of bouquet garni (along with thyme, marjoram and bay leaf).

  • Needs sun and moist, sandy, well-drained soil
  • Plant spring to autumn
  • Harvest when plant is about eight inches high

 

Sage

The leaves of this plant add flavour to pork, poultry and veal, as well as to hearty soups. May be grown from seeds or cuttings. Not suitable for indoors, since sage can grow to half a metre.

  • Needs sun and well-drained soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest just before plant flowers

 

Rosemary

The tiny, silver-green leaves of this aromatic, flavourful plant make an ideal accompaniment to lamb and other meat dishes. May be grown from seeds or cuttings.

  • Needs sun and well-drained soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest any time

 

Thyme

This strongly flavoured herb is excellent in soups, casseroles and meat dishes. Can be propagated from root divisions and cuttings, as well as from seeds.

  • Needs sun and light, sandy soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest leaves just before plant flowers

 

Chives

Very mild members of the onion family, chives are easy to grow. They are delicious finely chopped over egg dishes, soups, fish, chicken, salads and steamed vegetables, or mixed into soft cheeses and dips.

  • Needs sun and rich, well-drained soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest just before plant flowers

 

Basil

There are several types of this wonderfully aromatic herb — sweet basil is one of the most popular. It complements tomatoes beautifully, and is wonderful with pasta and for pepping up salads. Make your own pesto sauce by blending basil together with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

  • Needs sun and rich, moist soil
  • Plant at the end of spring or beginning of summer
  • Harvest in early autumn

 

Dill

The seeds of this fragrant, feathery herb add sharp flavour to cabbage, coleslaw, breads, dill pickles and vegetable dishes. The leaves are delicious with fish, eggs, potato salads and other dishes. Not suitable for indoors, since dill grows to around half a metre and isn't easily transplanted.

  • Needs rich, moist, well-drained soil and a sunny, sheltered position
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest when the plant comes into bloom

 

Mint

There are many varieties of this cool, clean-flavoured herb. Use in herbal tea, as a flavouring for vegetables, salads, sweets and as a sauce with lamb. Can be grown from root division or stem cutting.

  • Needs sun and moist, well-drained soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest when plant comes into bloom

 

Oregano

Strongly-scented oregano is perfect in pizza, pasta and Mediterranean cooking, and is great sprinkled over meat before roasting. May be grown from seeds or propagated from root division or stem cuttings.

  • Needs sun and alkaline, well-drained soil
  • Plant in spring
  • Harvest just before plant blooms

 

Keeping your herbs fresh

Herbs taste best when used fresh, but here are some ideas for perfect preservation:

  • Dry extras on racks set in the shade.
  • Chop finely and place with water in ice cube trays in your freezer. Add the resulting herb ice blocks to soups and casseroles for fabulous fresh flavour. Hint: Mint "ice blocks" are delicious in cool drinks.