Big pots of leafy, flavoursome and generous annual herbs sat just outside the back door where you can reach out and pick them for your cooking are one of the delights of the kitchen garden. When you grow your own, you can have as big a bunch of parsley as you want: and even better, you can try more unusual herbs like caraway, summer savory, dill and chervil.
Here's how to make sure you have pots and pots of flavour from one end of the year to the next:
- Sow little and often so you've always got a new tray of seedlings ready in the wings to take over once the previous crop finishes. Plant half a row, or a new container once a month from March to September for year-round flavour.
- Keep parsley in the shade, as if you let it get too hot and dry it'll quickly flower and run to seed. Pretty aniseed-flavoured chervil, looking a little like cowparsley, is another plant that likes cool, shady conditions.
- Pick leaves frequently as it encourages fresh growth. Basil, parsley, and coriander all flower if left to grow unchecked, which turns the leaves bitter. Keep the sweet, fragrant young foliage coming by nipping out the tips for cooking every few days.
- Sow coriander where it's to grow as it hates being transplanted. If you haven't got a spot in the garden, just sow the large, round seeds directly into a trough or generous container to grow into a fountain of lush, spicily scented greenery for flavouring Asian cookery and salads.
- Make a late sowing to bring indoors in around September, and you'll have fresh herbs to pick from the kitchen windowsill all through winter. Parsley and basil are perfect for this: pick them sparingly and they should keep going till spring.
Please ask the staff in our Mullingar garden centre for more information and advice about sowing and growing annual herbs.