Aromatic plants and herbs have always interested me and for more years than I can remember I’ve grown a range of culinary herbs both in the garden and on the kitchen windowsill. There’s something very satisfying about being able cut what you need for a recipe from the garden without having to make a journey to the shops, in my case it’s a 5 mile journey and very often what I’m after is out of stock.
During the summer months when parsley, mint, sage, coriander and dill are plentiful, I freeze them in ice cubes trays and that keeps me stocked during winter. Other more robust herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage continue growing on quite happily throughout the winter although sage usually needs some fleece protection in winter.
I’ve had my current garden for for 31 years and the herbs have a small bed beside the raised veg beds with several containers dotted around with mint and extra parsley. All the old favourites are there, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay, dill, sage, mints, wild garlic, oregano and marjoram. Basil grows happily all year round on the kitchen windowsill as it never seems to grow well either in the garden or an outside container, even during the warm Scottish summer.
This year I’m making some changes in the garden as growing vegetables and maintaining the beds has become more challenging due to some problems with some old injuries. Scaling back the veg growing leaves me with a large empty bed and I’ve decide to turn that into a kitchen herb garden.
Sketching a plan and deciding on plants is the challenge at the moment. Obviously growing from seed is the cheapest option but I’ll also be buying some plants as I want to have a number of mature plants in the beds. Several of my seed sowings including parsley, thyme, oregano and basil have already germinated and will help fill the spaces and can also be planted in containers.
Dividing the bed into four sections separated by a narrow cross brick type path seems like the simplest way of arranging the area and that design will allow for easy access to maintain and cut herbs for cooking. I’ll also place some the herbs in containers on the paths around the new bed and near to seating areas in the garden as there is nothing nicer than running your hands through a herbal plant and inhaling the aroma. Close your eyes and you can visualise being somewhere on the med.
Jekka McVicars book, ‘Jekka’s Complete Herb Book’ is a great reference for herbal plants and advice about cultivation and it was interesting to read that some of the plants I have growing in flower beds are classed as herbal plants, some of which are edible.
Here’s a few of those plants.
I’ve always grown bergamot for it’s interest and and for it’s wonderful citrus aroma. The essential of bergamot is a long time favourite of mine and it was one of the oils I used to treat my sons skin when he had shingles as a toddler. The flowers are edible and can be used in salads, while the leaves can be used in sauces, teas and drinks. It has only started growing again so no picture at this stage.
I’ll be posting updates on the progress of the new patch over the next few weeks and I’ll be delighted if you’ll share your advice and similar projects with me.