Herbs hold some wonderful secrets that we can share if we venture into their world for a moment.
My favourite herb of the moment is Aloe Vera. Not a culinary herb perhaps but the benefits of aloe vera are enormous. For example, the sap inside the leaves will help soothe and repair your skin after a minor burn. Perfect to grow on the kitchen windowsill and you don’t even have to remember to water it every day.
Many herbs will grow on a bright windowsill, although care should be taken that the sun isn’t too hot through the glass as this will scorch the leaves of your herbs, and will dry the pots out very quickly. If you have direct sunshine on your chosen windowsill, create shade for your plants during the hottest part of the day.
The quickest way to get a herb garden going is to buy small plants all ready to go. Many supermarkets in the UK sell small herb plants but any garden centre should have a choice of herbs. Stick to three or four if you’re new to growing herbs. You can add to your garden later. Always check on the growing requirements when you buy plants. Some hybrid varieties are less robust and may need to be grown indoors in a moderate climate.
Other herbs need a fair amount of space and may not be practical for the space you have available. Double check before you buy. Same goes if you’re starting your plants from seed. Read through the recommendations on the back of the seed packet so that you get an idea how big your plants could grow and also check on indoor/outdoor requirements.
Follow any ‘instructions’ as far as possible for best results. It’s worth investing in a Herb Book to refer to and be inspired by.
A couple of culinary herbs that work well on the windowsill or in a herb garden are basil and chives:
Basil is generally known as one of the tomato herbs, as a tomato apparently doesn’t taste right without it! Many shop bought sauces are tomato and basil based, and growing basil on the windowsill will save a trip to the shops from time to time, as well as avoiding processed food – always a plus.
Basil is an annual plant in moderate climates but will grow as a bi-ennial in a warmer environment, producing flower and seed in the second year.
Chives are perfect to add a mild onion taste to your recipe. The flowers are edible and decorate a green salad perfectly. Every year or so, gently dig up plants or tip out of their pots, separate the roots and re-plant. Chive plants make great gifts if you find yourself with far too many to use.
There are many herbs that can be grown for culinary or medicinal purposes, although always refer to a reliable source before administering medicinal herbs.
At the first signs of a cold, a thyme and lemon tisane can soothe symptoms and possibly even stop the cold germs in their tracks! And, barring any allergies, this prevention plan is safe for practically everyone.
To help you get started, I’ve put together three volumes of herbs *listed here** that will give you a great start to building your herb garden, however big or small. ‘The Herb Garden’ is packed with general herb growing tips and ideas. The second volume gets to grips with twenty everyday herbs. And the third volume deals with twenty occasional herbs that may need a little more attention, but are all fairly straightforward and explained in detail.
But whichever path you follow, make it a magical one with the scent, beauty and health giving properties of these wonderful plants.