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The lost plot: Grow your own herbs

The lost plot: Grow your own herbs

My mother’s repertoire of herbs consisted of mint and parsley, plus dried mixed herbs. Since then, our cuisine has progressed. Any cook will need a range of herbs for flavour and added nutrition and they are best fresh from the garden.

There are many ways to lay out a herb garden. It used to be popular to lay a wagon wheel on the ground and plant a different herb in the space between each spoke, but wagon wheels are sparse these days! An idea I liked was setting the herbs in a rockery.

Whatever you choose, consider their differing requirements. Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, sage and oregano need a hot, dry position. Rosemary grows over a metre tall, while parsley and chives will take some shade.

Mint must have a moist shady spot, and basil is an annual, so best planted in the garden around your tomatoes. Coriander must be sown from seed as it hates being transplanted. Interestingly, if you’re like me and find that fresh coriander tastes of stinkbugs, studies have found that we have a variant in our olfactory-receptor genes which makes us averse to the taste.

A small culinary hack — plant herbs close to the kitchen so they don’t get left out of your cooking because it’s raining and you can’t be bothered trekking to pick them.

First published: Sep 2019

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