1) go to the fridge and get the expensive pack of herbs that you bought from the supermarket, and is hopefully still looking green, not going moldy in the pack
2) reach for the jar of dried herbs as you don't have anything fresh
3) go outside to your balcony, patio or window box, and pick the 3 sprigs of herbs that can be chopped and mixed together to give that fantastic fresh flavour, knowing that you didn't spray them with chemicals, and that they have loads of nutrition in them as they've been picked seconds before, and haven't traveled 100's or 1000's of miles
If your answer isn't number 3, then you are missing out on the best and easiest way to give spark to your cookery and save you money.
Here are my top 3 easiest herbs to grow in the smallest of spaces
Mint - yes if you plant it in a border, it will take over, but confined in a pot that is about 30cm across and at least 20cm deep, you will get excellent fresh mint for 10 months a year. The secret to healthy mint is to keep using it. Mint needs to be cut back at least twice a year to get fresh new growth, so if you are continually using it, you are helping it to keep healthy. Once a year, you also need to split it. There are lots of different types of mint, I grow 7 varieties.
My favourite recipes for this time of year - peas and broad beans, steamed with mint, or apple and mint juice.
Rosemary - This can grow to be a very large shrub, but kept in a pot, (30cm diameter is good) and used regularly, your Rosemary will not overtake your patio, and can be a scented and aromatic addition to your cookery. Regular trimming for use in the kitchen will encourage fresh new growth which is the tastiest, but for best cookery results, replace every couple of years. A new plant should cost you about £3-£5.
My favourite recipes for this time of year, Lime and Rosemary marinade, Rosemary and potato bread
Parsley - This is a biennial, i.e. it grows one year, then will die the next, - which means that you need to have 2 plants on the go. But like the others, picking regularly will make lots of fresh growth and will lengthen the lifespan of the plant before it goes to seed. I grow curled parsley in a hanging basket, for excellent results that won't have been attacked by any local wildlife (or my chickens!) and French parsley in a large tub. Grow from seed, or plants in a garden centre will cost less than £2.
My favourite recipes for this time of year, Garlic Bread, or herb omelette
I'm passionate about growing herbs and vegetables in my garden, and apart from the price and taste issues, there is also so much more choice when you grow your own.
If you'd like to learn more about these top 3, plus the next 7 easiest on my list. If you'd like to taste different varieties and see if my homemade refreshments with minutes old herbs work better than shop bought ones, and take away your own container to try your hand at growing one of the top ten, my
Beginner Herb Course is taking place Next Thursday 1st July at the Grace and Flavour Garden in West Horsley. Book Now, or Contact me for more details.