If you’re starting to ‘grow your own’, herbs are a great place to begin!
In May 2014, aged 8, George was crowned RHS Young School Gardener of the Year in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening’s competition. In October 2015, George was made the first RHS Young Ambassador in order to inspire other children to share his love of gardening and the natural world. A self-confessed gardening geek and nature nerd, George keeps a regularly updated blog at greenfingeredgeorge.com. Here, George writes about growing herbs for the first time.
We grow lots of herbs in our garden; thyme, rosemary and sage – to name a few. We mainly use them for cooking, but they also look great in the garden and attract insects. I absolutely love watching bumble bees on the purple heads of chive flowers and the strong floral smells of herbs like lavender is delightful.
We’re all big foodies in our house, my Mum’s the boss in the kitchen and when she’s cooking, she will ask for a certain herb and I go out and cut them for her. Somehow, food always tastes better when you’ve added your own herbs!
Whilst the rosemary and bay tree are established plants, this year is the first time I’ve grown some from seed and they’ve been mega successful. I find it really exciting growing plants from seed, nurturing and then harvesting to eat. Mr Plant Geek tells me he started growing herbs from seed at my age and sold them via mail order – Alan Sugar would have said “you’re hired”!
You can grow a lot of herbs in your garden, but some herbs like basil, coriander and parsley are better grown from seed in pots on your window bottom. Here’s what I’ve grown this year:
On social media, I posted several times about growing coriander from seed and by heck it divided opinion, with those who think it tastes of soap and those that can’t get enough! I grew it inside my mini greenhouse in modules, then planted it out when large enough and it grew brilliantly. I think I should have staggered the planting though, as we had an abundance all at the same time. It was guacamole, tabbouleh and Thai curry every day for a while!
We’ve dabbled with growing mint from seed, plug and plant and there’s lots of varieties in containers all over the garden. Their texture and taste really differ.
Our neighbours gave us some apple mint, which we made into a cordial with lime and enjoyed it over crushed ice, topped up with fizzy apple juice. It was scrummy on a hot day.
I started growing sage from seed in May. We ended up with four big tubs of sage – they grew so well. It’s one of my favourite herbs cause I love the smell.
Mum used it to make sage butter for pasta. It’s so pokey that you only need eight leaves and you get such an intense flavour.
Greek basil looked beautiful
I’m saving the best ‘til last: Greek basil. We all know basil is divine, but have you tried the smaller leafed Greek stuff? Oh wow, it’s incredible.
I sowed it from seed mid-spring in my mini greenhouse, however a warm window bottom would do. For us, there was only one way for this beauty and that was in tomato bruschetta. Lightly toasted ciabatta, chopped sweet cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of good quality olive oil, salt and pepper and freshly torn Greek basil – bon appetiser!
So, my top tip, if you have the thyme, grow some herbs, they’re mint!