Nothing transforms a meal like the addition of some fresh herbs. Amanda Brame, Head of Horticulture at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, shares her tips for creating your own herb garden at home
IMAGE: PETERSHAM NURSERIES RICHMOND
Choose the right herbs for cooking…
At Petersham Nurseries we have the luxury of a beautiful kitchen garden which we cram full of many different varieties of herbs ready for the chefs to add into their delicious creations. Top of the chefs’ list are borage, sage, thyme, rosemary, and basil, not forgetting Moroccan mint.
Out of these, borage is best grown from seed and can be sown right through the summer. It requires a little more room to grow than the others, but the one we love the most. The pretty little blue flowers are edible and are sprinkled over pasta and pastry alike. Once established, the tips of the plant make for delicious borage fritti – crispy deep-fried morsels.
Cheat with supermarket living herbs…
In the current situation you may not be able to find herb plants in your local garden centre. If this is the case, you can, with a little extra care, use living supermarket-grown herbs still in the pot. A word of warning though – they are not hardy, meaning they are only suitable for keeping indoors – so before you can plant them, you will need to keep them indoors for around three weeks, harvesting them very, very sparingly.
After this period, harden them off outside for around five to seven days (place the plants outside during the daytime and bring them back in at night). This gets them acclimatised to the outdoors and ready to pop them into containers where they will romp away very quickly. You will need to follow this process again around late summer time to ensure a good succession, providing fresh herbs way into the autumn.
How to pot up your herbs…
Generally, herbs aren’t too fussy and will cope quite well in containers as long as they are around 40cm deep, have drainage holes and are filled with a soil-based compost such as John Inns No. 2. Failing that, a good organic water-retaining compost is also suitable. Regular watering is really important and if you are able to site them out of the midday sunshine this will be much easier to manage and also encourage a strong steady growth. Give them a liquid feed every two to three weeks with an organic seaweed fertiliser and this will help speed up the growth for a regular supply.
Top tip: to get the Petersham Nurseries look, keep the containers simple by filling each one with a single herb type and grouping them together for that final stylish impact.
IMAGES: PETERSHAM NURSERIES RICHMOND
Petersham Nurseries is offering fresh produce from their family farm and store cupboard groceries together with wine from their cellar for collection from their Richmond base.
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