We use a lot of herbs! I blame my Thermomix. It really is amazing how much flavour you can pack into your cooking with just a few staples in the garden and trust me “fresh” herbs from the supermarket just don’t compare tastewise! You will always find Parsley, Basil, Shallots/Spring Onions (the name seems to depend on where you live), Rosemary, Thyme and Chives in our garden. We also grow our own Ginger, Garlic, Oregano, Mint, Lemongrass and Chillies.
Like most veggies your herbs will need about 6 hours of sunlight a day and a well draining soil with plenty of organic matter dug in to give them a good start. Seedlings are your best bet for good results but many herbs will grow well from seed or cuttings which helps to keep the cost down. Basil and Rocket grow well from seed and will self seed if left to their own devices. If you are really keen you can collect the seed for your next crop. The best way to plant is to put a line of seed raising mix where you want your basil to grow and sow your seeds into that. For small seeds
we have found it useful to mix them in an old herb shaker (with big holes) with some sand and gently shake them where we want to plant them. Gently cover them up and water in. Once your seeds sprout you will need to thin them out so they don’t choke each other out. Both Basil and Rocket have the added bonus of attracting bees into the garden.
Rosemary grows extremely well from cuttings. The trick is to take a cutting that is new growth with very little wood. Strip the lower leaves away and dip the stem with honey (antibacterial and acts as a rooting powder). Pot your cuttings in a good quality potting mix and water well. When you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot you need to decide if you are going to plant in the garden or get a bigger pot!
We have also grown some herbs from supermarket produce. Lemongrass usually still has some root mass on when you buy it. Put it in a glass of water and wait for the roots to develop (usually about a week) then plant in a pot or the garden. If you choose the garden it can take over so keep on eye on it! Ginger that is sprouting can be planted out just below the soil surface and in a shaded spot. It does well in a large pot too. Organic Garlic can be planted out but you need to be aware that some varieties will not do well in Qld and you are better off buying some Garlic bulbs for planting from a reputable supplier (I recommend Green Harvest). Much of the cheaper supermarket Garlic is sprayed with an anti sprouting agent so even if it does sprout it wont grow particularly well so again better to enhance your chances with some bulbs from a reputable supplier.
Shallots/Spring Onions, the name seems to depend on where you live. I’m talking about the long green ones. These grow easily from seed but seedlings will give a faster result. These plants are the gift that keeps on giving too – when you harvest, cut them off at ground level and they will grow back. We love them in salads, soups and pasta dishes. You can also slice and store them in a snap lock bag in the freezer so they are ready to use. Cut chives store well like this too.
I started this post talking about using herbs in cooking so only fair I share a recipe. Click on the link for my Herb and Mustard Marinade for Roasts.
Do you grow your own herbs? How do you use them?