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Basil

Mixed HerbsThere is something really satisfying about growing your own herbs. A cheeky snip of home grown basil, chives, mint or coriander into a lovingly prepared dish adds a level of completeness you just can’t achieve from a jar of dried stuff you bought a couple of years ago and found at the back of the cupboard.

Growing herbs is so simple, and the results are fantastically effortless. Who can resist a sprig of fresh basil to glamourise a ‘Monday night’ spaghetti bolognaise? Or fresh coriander chopped into soups and curries? Buttery, chivey mash and minty peas are among my favourites, made all the more special if I’ve grown the potatoes and peas as well.

All kitchen windowsills have room for a little basil or coriander. Patios and balconies look great with tubs of mint, chives, sage, rosemary and oregano, which will last for years and become as much a staple to the kitchen as the dusty herb rack once was.

While pots of basil, coriander and parsley can be bought from the supermarket for around a pound, I really don’t think they are worth it. Fresh herbs from the supermarket are grown in intensive, hot-house conditions, bumped up with many pesticides and fertilisers. They’re put under so much pressure to produce lots of lush leaves, their root-balls don’t have time to develop properly, so they’re most likely to go a sickly yellow, most unappetising.

KorianderTijmI enjoy growing my herbs from seeds, it’s so easy! I sow them into a good rich soil, leave them somewhere warm and light, dampening the soil with a sprayer as and when. It’s never long until you see them sprouting through.

Of course, it’s not just regular dishes that benefit from home-grown herbs. Ever tried lavender biscuits? Or making your own salad dressings, pesto or mustard? Fancy a challenge?

Rachel

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