Growing Mint at Home

MINT (PEPPERMINT) (mentha piperita)
(SPEARMINT) (mentha spicata)
(perennial)

About Mint

Mint is probably one of the best known herbs in the UK, if only for its accompaniment to roast lamb! The essential oil in mint is used in many medicinal and cosmetic preparations as well as in the kitchen.

It is a hardy perennial and a prolific grower. It is suitable to grow in pots and containers as well as directly in the herb or vegetable garden, in shady spots where nothing else seems to grow. It is prolific though and will take over a large area rapidly if not contained. Mint will often come back a couple of years after it’s been ‘removed’ from the area. Plant where it won’t disturb the rest of the garden.

There are about 1000 different types of mint but only about 5 or 6 of these are worth cultivating. Peppermint is the most popular and probably the most useful variety. Peppermint can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and is a recognised healing herb. Spearmint and pennyroyal mint are also popular varieties to grow at home. There will usually be a choice of varieties available in your garden centre.

Mint has been used as far back as Roman times and has been cultivated in Europe for many years, although there wasn’t a lot recorded about the plant until the 17th century

Growing

Mint will grow in virtually any spot and will take over the whole area if not checked. It is very suitable for container growing but also will do well in a shady part of the garden, where perhaps not much else will grow.

Ideally mint should be contained. Plant in a container that has been sunk into the ground, or alternatively in pots on the windowsill or outside on the patio.

Like most herbs, mint prefers a rich well-drained soil but likes moisture so a shady spot is ideal where the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly. The area mustn’t be waterlogged though. Dig over the ground and mix in some well-rotted manure or compost during the season before planting.

It’s very important to contain mint unless you want a field of it. Sink a bottomless container such as an old bucket into the ground, or dig a deep hole and line with black plastic. This won’t contain the plant 100% but it will help. Alternatively, stick to container growing.

Mint will propagate easily from seed as well as by separating the roots and re-planting. Sow seed in early spring and keep moist and weed-free until the plants are large enough to handle. Then pot them up or plant in the garden.

To propagate by root division, simply break off the root and re-plant in potting compost until it has established a good root system and then plant out.

Garden centres and plant suppliers often have pots of mint ready to plant out. Look at the labels before buying – there are many different varieties available including eau-de-cologne mint, which isn’t very suitable for mint sauce, but will produce a lovely scent in the home if grown indoors.

Mint is a hardy plant and doesn’t need an awful lot of looking after but a mulch occasionally will help keep the moisture in the roots. The roots are shallow and can dry out quite quickly. This should only need doing if the plant is growing in full sun or there hasn’t been much rainfall.

Mint can occasionally suffer with a rust disease and should be pulled up and burnt if symptoms occur. Grow new plants away from the affected area. This disease can be caused by bad drainage, too much water generally or simply a virus in the soil.

Pick leaves as you need them, and remove the flowers to produce more foliage.

Storing

Hang sprigs upside down in a dust free area in paper bags. The leaves can then be crumbled and stored in an airtight jar to be used for flavourings and mint tea. Mixing fresh leaves with vinegar is another way to store mint. Again, keep in sealed jars.

Medicinal uses for Mint

Mint is well-known for its medicinal qualities, and is regularly drunk as a tea or eaten in the form of a candy after meals to aid digestion. Many people swear by a cup of mint tea every day to keep colds and flu away. It is also a good remedy for nervous headaches and stress.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. This text was borrowed from 20 Everyday Herbs

20 everyday herbs

A potted history of twenty everyday herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Basil … Bay … Celery … Chives … Coriander … Dill … Fennel … Garlic … Horseradish … Lavender … Lemon Balm … Lovage … Marigold … Mint … Nasturtium … Oregano … Parsley … Rosemary … Sage … Thyme.

’20 Everyday Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about growing herbs at home for everyday use. A must-have!

Choose from your favourite online book store:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Etsy , Barnes & Noble

Coriander, the Curry Cheat!

Growing coriander in your garden really will put spice into your life! The coriander plant is two plants in one – a spice and a herb.

The pungent seeds are the spice, and the leaf is the herb part

Chopped fresh coriander will add a mild curry taste to any dish, which means you can save on buying or making curry sauces.

.

Coriander has been grown for many centuries as a medicinal and culinary herb.

The Chinese believed it to have life-lengthening powers, and it has been referred to in history as an aphrodisiac.

Coriander has a very strong smell and defined taste. It is used chiefly to flavour curries, soups and stews.

I’ve always grown coriander from seed. It tends to germinate well and will re-seed itself in moderate climates. A coriander patch can look after itself for years!

Amazon is a good place to start if you want to buy your seeds online. I found these organic seeds at a good price (UK)

Coriander – 1000 Seeds – Organic

“Ideal for containers / windowsills or open ground with well draining soil and full sun.”

Coriander Seeds

Positioning

Find a nice sunny spot for coriander. It is native to warm climates, and likes the sun. It will tolerate some shade but avoid draughty or cold spots.

Grow a few plants here and there among your vegetables. The smell deters aphids and other garden pests. It doesn’t worry the birds though!

Planting

Prepare the soil to a fine consistency and remove weeds and large stones.

Coriander seed should be sown about half an inch (2cms) deep in rows 9-12 inches (25-30cms) apart. However, I’ve simply scattered seed around in the vegetable plot and had great success with growing coriander. I used the seed I had collected from my plants the year before and therefore had plenty to play with.

But if you’re starting from scratch, don’t risk wasting them. Sow them in lines as the seed packet tells you.

Sow a few very short lines of seed here and there around the whole garden, remember to add a line to your herb beds.

Generally, coriander can be sown fairly early in Spring, but you should check the growing recommendations on your seed packet to make sure.

Water your seeds in and keep weed-free.

Growing coriander in containers

As with most herbs, coriander can be grown in pots, and even kept indoors ( in fact, keeping a coriander plant near an open window can deter flies from entering your home all summer )

Keep soil watered and well-drained. Feed with an organic fertilizer every few weeks to help the plant produce lots of leaf.

Looking after coriander

Keep weed-free and watered during very hot temperatures. Otherwise, just pick and use!

Add a few chopped coriander leaves to salads, boiled potatoes, potato salads, stews, soups, curries.

In a moderate climate – when the temperature doesn’t get below freezing for more than a couple of weeks during the winter – you may be able to leave your coriander patch to re-grow itself year after year.

Coriander is an ‘annual’ and will produce seed and die. Leave some plants to drop their seed naturally and clear the dead plants later. Hopefully, in mid-late spring some of these seeds will germinate. Dig up the new plants gently if you want to move them, when they have 4-6 true leaves.

If your soil is very acidic, add a little nitrogen but adding nutrients can impair the taste of the herb, so should be avoided if possible.

Storing

Coriander leaves are best used fresh, but as with most herbs it can be stored reasonably
successfully.

Drying

Either hang whole stems upside down in a dark airy place for a couple of weeks, or lay out on racks to dry in the sun, turning regularly. When completely dry, crumble into glass jars, label and store out of direct light.

Drying does take away some of the strength of taste and scent.

Freezing

Freeze quickly on trays and store in freezer bags. Label.

Storing coriander seeds is probably the most efficient way of capturing the coriander taste long after the plant has died. Simply collect and store in a glass jar with airtight lid. Store out of direct light.

Add seeds to pickles, soups and stews all through the winter, and remember to keep a few for sowing next year!

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. I extracted this text from 20 Everyday Herbs – a handy download if you’re thinking about growing some herbs this year.

20 Everyday Herbs

A potted history of twenty everyday herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Basil … Bay … Celery … Chives … Coriander … Dill … Fennel … Garlic … Horseradish … Lavender … Lemon Balm … Lovage … Marigold … Mint … Nasturtium … Oregano … Parsley … Rosemary … Sage … Thyme.

’20 Everyday Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about how to grow herbs for everyday use. A must-have! Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Barnes & Noble , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Etsy

A Taste of Herbs

We’re pretty much all aware of the chemicals in processed foods these days and try to buy organic when we can.

Unfortunately, there is often a price to pay.

Organic sauces and flavourings can be expensive and sometimes they aren’t necessarily as healthy as we want them to be. Added sugars, however natural, can cause insulin disruption in the body and – horror – also put on weight!

These 5 herbs will give you the benefit of adding taste and nutrition to your everyday meals without having to budget.

The only cost will be the initial plant or seeds but will only be a fraction of the cost of sauces and supermarket herbs.

Chives

You can eat every part of the chive plant. The edible flowers add colour to the salad bowl or use to garnish any
recipe. The grass-like leaves can be cut up and added to cooked potatoes, salads, sauces and even sandwiches, and the bulb can be used in place of a mild onion. Chop leaves finely and sprinkle over cheese on toast or mix into a green salad. Add to any meal where a mild onion taste will work.

Chives have similar healthy properties as onions but in a milder form.

Coriander (Cilantro)

The coriander plant is two plants in one – a spice and a herb. Chopped fresh coriander leaves will add a mild curry taste to any dish, which means you can save on buying or making curry sauces. The seeds can be used as a pickling spice – or saved to sow next year. Coriander’s been grown for many centuries as a medicinal and culinary herb.

The Chinese believed it to have life-lengthening powers, and it has been referred to in history as an aphrodisiac.

Sage

Sage has been used as a stuffing or an accompanying vegetable to poultry dishes for eons! Sage and onion stuffing is easy to make ( recipe here ) and can be served with vegetarian meals, poultry dishes, crumbled into stews to thicken and flavour, or sliced and added to sandwiches. Sage is a strong tasting herb and should be used sparingly.

It’s also been shown that a small glass of sage tea everyday will help with hot flushes.

Thyme

Add a little thyme to all ‘herby’ recipes. A few leaves tossed into a salad or sauce will liven up the taste buds.
Try adding a lemon thyme leaf to a long summer lemonade and a leaf or two to ice cubes. Thyme is also an excellent
addition to fish or cheese meals.

Drink lemon and thyme tisanes through the winter months to help prevent colds

Basil

Basil is known as the tomato herb and really does enhance the taste of your tomatoes. Use sparingly. Chop leaves finely and mix into a tomato salad, or use the shiny leaves as an attractive, and edible, garnish. It is also a great addition to green salads throughout the summer.

A pot of basil near an open window can help deter flies from entering your home. Rub the leaves occasionally to
release the scent.

All these herbs can be grown outside in a moderate climate. If you have the space, create a herb garden – A place of tranquillity and practical healthy solutions for creating your own organic masterpieces with a taste of herbs in the kitchen!

To get started, pop over to the ‘Herb Books’ page and choose your best plan of action!

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Growing Horseradish

(from 20 Everyday Herbs – see below)

Horseradish is a prolific plant and should be positioned carefully in the garden. It will tolerate partial shade but prefers a sunny spot if possible. Choose a permanent place as horseradish will last many years.

Dig the ground deep and clear out any weeds, large stones and non-organic debris. The cleaner the soil, the bigger the roots will grow. More preparation will guarantee better crops.

The horseradish root likes a rich well-manured soil and not too heavy. All root crops struggle in heavy soils.

To inhibit rapid spreading, containers work well as they literally contain the plant.
Fill containers with organic compost and position in a sunny spot. Make sure the container is well-drained, and kept watered and weed-free.


Not easy to find horse radish roots for sale online although Ebay might be worth a shot. Not even Amazon seemed to have any when I looked. They sell a lot of wasabi which is a close relative but I’m not sure if there are any different growing requirements.

Vsorce4u 100 x Wasabi Viable Bonsai Seeds

Package Included: 100 x Wasabi Seeds
Wasabi has numerous health benefits and a distinctive fresh, hot, sweet flavor that can’t be matched. This is the true wasabi.

These cold-stored seeds must be planted in potting soil. Germination of this summer or fall planted seed is in the very early spring. By March the seedlings will have formed 2 sets of true leaves and its time to pot them up.

Wasabi Seeds Here (UK)

Horseradish is usually grown from root cuttings which you can buy from good garden suppliers. Plant the root in early spring or autumn. Check on the supplier’s growing recommendations, as size of root, variety and regions will have varying needs.

A neighbour or local gardener may be happy to donate a root or two to start you off. Plant as soon as possible after the roots have been lifted from the soil.

Plant the roots according to how big they are. The smaller the root the shallower it should be planted.

Try taking your own root cuttings in the autumn. Dig the roots up gently and use the largest one in the kitchen, then re-plant one or more of the side shoots.

Also, sections of root can be planted in the spring to produce new roots in the autumn. Horseradish does spread quickly though and care should be taken not to let it take over the whole garden. For container growing, choose a large well-drained container and fill with fresh compost before planting.

From seed:

Horseradish can be grown from seed sown in spring. The seeds should be sown in a sunny patch and the ground must be cleaned of large stones and perennial weeds, and dug deeply before sowing to allow for root growth.

Again, the cleaner and richer the soil, the better chance you have of harvesting a good crop.

Thin out the plants when they are a couple of inches (5cm) high to allow space to grow. Keep weed-free and watered especially during dry periods.

Alternatively, sow seed in a large well-drained container. Always use fresh compost when planting containers. Old compost may have been drained of nutrients from previous plantings.

Once established, and with very little attention, the bed will become a permanent horseradish patch and will produce healthy roots for many years.

Dig up all the roots every autumn. Use the largest roots in the kitchen and re-plant the others. This method of cultivation keeps your horseradish patch producing roots regularly and also helps to control the rapid growth.

The young leaves can be used in salads and sandwiches. Take a few from each plant and allow to grow again before using more. The root is cleaned, grated and eaten raw, often mixed with vinegar and cream and served with a Sunday roast.

Horseradish root is said to be stronger tasting after the first frost, so if you can leave them in until then, you will get a better result.

Text from ’20 Everyday Herbs’ – a must-have if you’re planning to grow some herbs this year and why wouldn’t you?!

Download from your preferred store here –

Healthy Living Books – Herbs and Healing

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Growing Aloe Vera

The essential kitchen windowsill plant. Aloe vera gel (inside the leaf casing) is wonderful for soothing minor burns. I couldn’t do without an Aloe Vera in the house!

Medicinal uses for Aloe Vera

The medicinal uses for aloe vera are well documented and various. One particularly benefit is a treatment for burns. The sap in the leaves can be applied directly to a minor burn. It aids the body in its healing process and the wound will be much relieved.

The sap also relieves pain from stinging insects and plants. It will also soothe sunburn.

An interesting feature of aloe vera plants is that they continue to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide at night which makes them suitable plants to keep in the bedroom.

About Aloe Vera

Historical evidence suggests that aloe vera originated in Africa although it is now grown in many countries. In moderate climates, aloe is often grown as a houseplant and thrives well in containers. It will grow happily in humid conditions as long as the roots aren’t in water. The plant will tolerate very high temperatures as well as very cold air temperatures. But low ground temperatures will damage the roots.

The use of aloe vera in medicinal preparations has been recorded for more than 2000 years. The sap from the leaf of the plant is a thick gel and it is this gel that holds all the healing ingredients aloe vera is becoming more and more well-known for. There is a wide commercial trade in aloe vera and it has been proved to cure many minor ailments as well as some chronic conditions.

The plant is 95% water and is therefore frost tender. It is normally grown indoors as a houseplant in the UK and similar climates. In warmer climates aloe vera can be grown outside in full sun or very light shade.

Growing

Aloe vera has become very popular in recent years and is available in the form of ready grown plants from many garden suppliers. Plants should be kept on a sunny windowsill and kept indoors for most of the year. During warm summer months, pots can be put outside during the day. Don’t forget to bring them in before the temperature drops.

Offsets:

The quickest way to propagate aloe is to take the offsets from the main plant and re-pot immediately using new compost and a container that can be positioned in the sun. Offsets should be 3 or 4 inches (8-10cm) high or more with 3 or 4 leaves and removed carefully so as to minimize damage to the mother plant.

All pots and containers must be very well-drained. Add extra sand or gravel to compost before planting. Water immediately after planting and then let the soil dry out almost completely before watering again.

Use the offsets as they become large enough to remove from the plant, to produce new plants. Give them away if you have too many.

From seed:

Aloe vera can be grown from seed although it can take anything from one to six months to germinate. It must be kept warm during this time. It should be started in well-drained trays or pots of warm fresh compost and kept damp. Water gently but regularly.

When the plants are large enough to handle, prick out carefully into individual pots and keep warm. Position in a sunny spot, either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. If you are planting outside choose the sunniest spot in the garden away from draughts and frost pockets.

Protect with a cloche or other cover during the night until the plant has become established, and during the next cold season. Remember aloe vera is a tropical plant and likes warm humid weather and plenty of sun.

Re-potting:

Plants will need re-potting every year or so, depending on the size of the pot, how well it grows, and also the quality of the original compost.

Aloe vera has shallow wide spreading roots and it should be re-potted into a container that is wider but not necessarily deeper than its current one. Always use fresh compost when re-potting and mix in some sand to help with the drainage.

During the summer months, aloe vera should be watered well and then left to dry out completely before watering again. During the winter months, the plant rests and requires very little water. When the soil is completely dry add a cup or two of water. The plant is a succulent so holds a lot of water within the leaves and roots, and will rot if watered too much and too often.

Storing

Aloe Vera is an evergreen succulent and available for use all year round. The gel inside the leaves can be stored and is widely processed in aloe vera preparations. However, in commercial processing, it is usual to use the whole leaf as it is more cost effective.

“One of the most practical plants you can grow indoors that doesn’t really need much looking after.”

Linda x

P.S. This article was stolen from 20 Occasional Herbs. Listed on the Herb Books page if you’d like to know more.

Saffron

saffron-pin

Saffron, at the time of writing, is probably the most expensive spice known to mankind. It takes around 150,000 flowers and hundreds of hours of labour to produce a couple of pounds of saffron threads.

Only a small amount is used at a time so this is a good reason to grow some yourself. Saffron spice comes from the stigmas or fronds of the flower Crocus Sativus and is believed to have originated in India. In recent years it has spread over many regions and is cultivated in Europe as well as Middle Eastern countries.

Saffron has been one of the most revered herbs for thousands of years and was cultivated for use as early as the 11th century.

Although saffron is a hardy plant and will survive in many cooler climates, it may not flower in poor summers. A greenhouse or bright conservatory may be a better spot if you are in a region where summer sunshine isn’t very reliable.

Plants are propagated by corms, which resemble bulbs and in ideal conditions, will multiply every year. They can be left in the ground for three or four years, sometimes longer before they need to be dug up and separated.

They like a rich soil and should be planted around mid-summer to flower the following year. Sometimes larger corms planted earlier in the summer will flower in the same year as planting but generally, a year should be allowed before they flower. Patience is needed here!

Buy corms from a reputable supplier and be sure to get the right variety. Only Crocus Sativus produces saffron. All other crocus varieties are inedible.

Harvesting Saffron

Whole flowers can be collected just before opening and the stigmas removed afterwards. Or, if the sun has been kind and the flowers are blooming, collect the stigmas directly from the flowers while still on the plants. This is quite fiddly and will stain your fingers temporarily. Perhaps a pair of tweezers may be easier for you.

Pull the stigmas from the centre of the flowers. Lay the threads carefully on a tray and dry very slowly in a cool oven – or the sun if possible – until completely dry. Store in an airtight jar out of direct light.

Because the plants will multiply every year (in ideal conditions), you could have your own ‘free’ supply of saffron forever more! A jar of organic saffron threads would make a lovely gift for a foodie friend.

NB: As I mentioned above, make sure you buy the right variety – Crocus Sativus – of corms and from a good supplier.

Text taken from the new updated Herbs & Spices book where you can find out more about growing saffron and lots of other herbs and spices.

herbsandspices

Herbs and Spices

It’s available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Walmart and other places! Order it online in case your local bookstore is out of copies. Links are all on the Herb Books page.

Happy Gardening!
Linda x

Growing Echinacea

Echinacea-pin

Growing echinacea ( purple coneflowers ) in your garden could help fight those stubborn colds, and a whole host of other things.

There’s still tons of research and heaps of trials to be done before the final results, but so far echinacea is living up to it’s fame.

Echinacea is indigenous to mid-western America and native Americans have used the root in herbal preparations for many years.

The constituents of echinacea have cleansing and antiseptic properties and the plant is used to treat many medical conditions.

NB: Don’t take home-made herbal preparations unless you are 110% sure you have it right!

Where to plant:
Echinacea likes a sunny spot and is drought-tolerant, so if you forget to water, it’ll probably be okay! Plants will survive in fairly poor soil as long as it’s well-drained. It grows naturally on the prairies of the mid west of America so if you could replicate those conditions, the plant should thrive. Hot and sunny – not much rain.

If you live in the UK – or any other high rainfall region – it may be better to try growing echinacea in a greenhouse or other protected area.

Seeds or plants?
Transporting ready grown plants and re-planting them isn’t always the best way to growing echinacea. They may survive but ideally you should start your own echinacea plants from seed…

Buy the seed from your local garden centre if you can or check out Amazon!

This variety found on Amazon UK:

Coneflower ‘Magnus’ / Echinacea purpurea

A beautiful coneflower, producing masses of rose pink to purple flowers with orange/brown centres on tall flower stems to about 1m in height.

Once you have your seeds, read the instructions on the packet for the finer details – when best to plant in your region, how much space you need to allow for your particular variety, etc;

Sow the seed in warm seed compost, in well-drained pots and keep soil damp until the seeds start to germinate. Water less after that but keep a close eye on your seedlings as they are vulnerable at this stage. Echinacea seeds take ages to germinate – sometimes as long as six weeks.

The plants do well in sandy soils and raised bed systems. The seeds can be started off inside a few weeks before the last frost. Sow in bio-degradable pots so you can plant out later without disturbing the roots too much. Making your own pots is a great thing to do to help your plants, and the planet!

After Care & Uses.
Keep weed-free as much as possible. When hoeing take care not to damage the roots.

Traditionally the roots have always been used in medicinal treatments, but there is strong evidence the flowers have just as much healing power as the roots. Go with the natural flow and use the flowers when they bloom and the roots when the flowers have finished.

The root should be collected for use in the third of fourth year of growth and after the flower has died right back in the autumn. Roots should be dried using a home food dryer or in a slow oven.

A combination of echinacea root and garlic can help boost the immune system and protect against colds, flu and all sorts of ailments.

The dried root and herb can be taken as a tisane ( 1-2 grams per tisane taken approx. 3 times a day. )

Echinacea is also used in ointments to treat skin problems such as eczema and boils.

Care should be taken when applying echinacea ointments, or taking it internally, by anyone with allergy problems. If you are allergic to other flowers in the daisy family, it’s possible you will have an allergic reaction to echinacea.

The flowers are bright and cheerful and work well in borders. They also make a great cut flower to brighten up the house.

Historically, echinacea was used over 400 years ago, that we know of, as a cure-all. Today, scientists are doing numerous tests with the herb in various forms to see if it really does live up to its reputation. The verdict so far seems good!

Growing echinacea in your garden gives you daily access to this wonderful herb.

Please note that I am not a medical practitioner and any self-medication should be okayed with your GP first.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Growing Comfrey

GrowingComfrey-pin

Humans have been growing comfrey as a healing herb for more than 2000 years, as I myself have (for slightly less than 2000 years though!).

Comfrey is still used in external preparations to heal wounds. And is perfect grown as a green manure or animal feed crop.

Comfrey is usually propagated by root cuttings or crown pieces, or buy small plants from a garden centre or your preferred online supplier. But you can start it from seed.

It isn’t always easy to find comfrey seeds but Amazon usually have some. For UK deliveries this link will take you to : 96 Seeds by pretty wild seeds at Amazon

Planting comfrey:

Comfrey is a deep-rooted plant and will not do particularly well in shallow soil. It prefers a fertile soil, as do most plants, but is a hardy perennial and will propagate year after year if situated well. Position in a sunny spot, although full sun is not essential.

Start your comfrey patch with small plants, root cuttings or pieces of the crown of an established plant. If you’re starting with seeds, grow them in pots until ready to plant out.

Plant root cuttings 2-4 inches (5-10cms) deep depending on the size of the cutting, laying the root cutting flat in the dug hole. Water well and let it grow!

Growing comfrey in your garden should be planned well, as it will grow bigger every year.

One of the major practical uses for the average gardener is growing comfrey as a green manure. You can simply lay the harvested leaves on the ground around your vegetables as a mulch or you can go all out and make your very own organic tonic.

I used this fertilizing method for a number of years and had great results, so grew comfrey all over the place.

Growing Comfrey – making a Tonic for your veggies:

If you have enough space, growing comfrey will provide a tonic for your vegetable patch. The tonic allows the plants to extract more nutrients from the soil.

First you need a container, preferably the size of a small dustbin, with a tap near the bottom. A small filter should also be used to avoid clogging the system. It must have a lid, and you will need a weighty object such as a large flattish stone, almost the size of the radius of your container. Raise your container off the ground, leaving enough room to comfortably place a watering can under the tap.

It may be a good idea to invest in a water barrel that you can adapt as your garden nutrition processor. I found this one on Amazon (UK) but there are loads to choose from so you can choose one to suit and fit your garden.

BeGreen 100L Capacity Mini Rainsaver Water Butt Kit

Water butt kit including stand and diverter
100ltr capacity
Produced from recycled plastic
Hose fit tap included, fits all standard fittings

Water Butt Kit


Collect as much comfrey as you can and pack it into the container, on top of the filter. Add a wire mesh or something similar and place your heavy object on top to hold the leaves down, then cover them with water. Put the lid on and forget about it for a couple of weeks.
When you’re ready to feed your plants, first put a peg on your nose, or don’t breathe in too hard, ( it really hums! ) and collect from the tap about a litre of the green slimy liquid into your watering can.

Top up the can with fresh water and feed your veggies. An exact ratio of tonic to water isn’t necessary but don’t put it on the ground undiluted. It’s too strong for most small plants.

Try and use all the available tonic in one go, clear out the slush ( put it directly on the compost heap) then make some more. Comfrey can be easily cut three or four times a year, but if you find a shortage occurring, try adding a few nettles to your mix.

Growing comfrey in your garden provides an organic food for your vegetable patch without costing a bean!

Please note There have been recent tests done on rats using Symphytine (a constituent of comfrey) that have shown carcinogenic results. However, these results aren’t really conclusive as the tests use highly concentrated forms of Symphytine.

Happy Gardening!

PS This handy download will help you get the most from your herb plants, including comfrey.

20 Occasional Herbs

A step by step guide to growing twenty occasional herbs to wow the family with! A potted history of twenty occasional herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Aloe vera … Angelica … Blackberry … Borage … Burdock … Caraway … Chamomile … Chervil … Comfrey … Daisy … Dandelion … Dog Rose … Echinacea … Feverfew … Savory … Sorrel … Tarragon … violet … Watercress … Yarrow.

’20 Occasional Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about how to grow herbs for occasional or everyday use. A must-have!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble , Etsy

Chervil

Chervil-pin

CHERVIL (Anthriscus cerefolium)
(annual)

Chervil is in the same family as carrots and is similar to parsley. There are two main varieties, one with flat and one with curly leaves.

It has a taste a little like anise and brings out the flavour of other herbs when cooked together.

Chervil was once known as myrris because of its resemblance to myrrh. It has been used in religious ceremonies and also has many medicinal qualities.

In roman times chervil was used as a spring tonic but is not widely used as a medicinal herb these days. It is mostly used in the kitchen and is one of the main herbs in French cuisine as part of the fines herbes mixture. The other herbs – chives, tarragon and parsley complement each other and chervil brings out the taste of all of them.

Chervil can be added to many dishes and shouldn’t be ignored when the recipe says; chervil (optional). Add some to your recipes and get lots of brownie points for a wonderful tasting meal.

Chervil is native to Middle Eastern countries but can be grown easily in many moderate climates.

Medicinal uses for Chervil

Chervil has been used extensively in folk medicine throughout the ages. It was once said that eating a whole plant cured hiccups. The herb is warm and soothing and is often used as a digestive aid.

A cold infusion of chervil tea is a soothing eyewash. Young tender leaves added to salads not only improve the flavour of your meal but are also believed to act as a mild tonic.

Growing

Chervil can run to seed very quickly, especially in hot sun, and should be positioned in a part shady spot in your garden. Chervil doesn’t transplant well and should be started from seed in situ.

From seed

Dig over the soil in early spring, or as soon as the ground is workable. Make sure the area is well-drained and gets some shade during the day. Remove any perennial weeds and non-organic debris and rake the soil to a fine consistency.

Sow the seed in drills about one inch (2-3cm) deep and cover gently with soil or compost. Water well. Check on the growing recommendations on your seed packet, but generally the first sowing of chervil can be made in mid-Spring.

As the plant is notorious for bolting (running to seed), sow a short line of seed every couple of weeks through until midsummer and then another later sowing in late summer for autumn use. In this way, fresh chervil will be available throughout the summer and autumn months.

Keep the young seedlings free from weeds and water in dry weather. Chervil won’t transplant easily but will need thinning. To avoid having to throw away too many plants, sow seed as sparsely as possible at each sowing. If you can’t get to a garden centre, Amazon is probably a reasonable place to start looking for seeds. I found these on Amazon (UK)

Mr Fothergill’s 10094 Herb Seeds, Chervil Simple

A half hardy annual, can be grown in pots
A delicate, refined flavour
Also called Gourmet parsley
30 cm growing height

Chervil Seeds

Thin plants when they are about 2 inches (5cm) tall and when the soil is damp. Water the area first if necessary. Leave the strongest plants to grow and pull out the weaker ones. Allow about 3 inches (7-8cm) of growing space between them. Thin again, to about 12 inches (30cm) apart a few weeks later, again removing the weaker plants.

As long as the soil isn’t allowed to dry out and chervil doesn’t get too much direct hot midday sun, the plants will need little looking after. The hardest thing to control with chervil is running to seed.

Avoid direct sunlight and water regularly to alleviate the problem as much as possible. Pick leaves regularly and cut off flowering stems before they bloom to encourage more foliage.

As chervil likes part shade, it’s ideal for growing indoors in pots on a windowsill. Use well-drained pots of new compost and sow a few seeds in each pot. Keep the compost damp. Remove the weaker seedlings when the plants are about 2 inches (5cm) tall and leave the strongest plant to grow.

Make sure the pots don’t dry out and protect from direct sun through glass. A north facing windowsill is probably the ideal spot in your home for chervil.

Here’s to Herbs!

Linda x

P.S. P.S. I extracted this text from 20 Occasional Herbs – a handy download if you’re thinking about growing some herbs this year.

20 Occasional Herbs

A potted history of twenty occasional herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Aloe vera … Angelica … Blackberry … Borage … Burdock … Caraway … Chamomile … Chervil … Comfrey … Daisy … Dandelion … Dog Rose … Echinacea … Feverfew … Savory … Sorrel … Tarragon … violet … Watercress … Yarrow.

’20 Occasional Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about how to grow herbs for occasional or everyday use. A must-have! Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Barnes & Noble , Etsy

Chives

chopped chives

About Chives

Chives are a member of the onion group and grow wild in many parts of Europe and North America, although they originate from China. They’ve been collected from the wild for centuries but weren’t cultivated until the Middle Ages. There are a number of different hybrids available including a ‘garlic’ variety.

Chives are easy to grow and produce purple or white edible flowers that can be used to garnish a meal, or dried and used in a flower arrangement. The bright green leaves are used in the kitchen and their delicate onion flavour enhances any meal.

Chives are primarily a culinary herb, but being part of the onion family, they do aid digestion, and they have also been used in helping fight cold and flu symptoms, although onions are more effective.

USES

Chopped chives can be added to any recipe that needs a mild onion flavour. They are especially good when added to potato salads, but can also be stirred into many recipes. The edible flowers will add a pretty garnish to any meal.

Tip: To avoid chopping your fingernails into the recipe, use a pair of kitchen scissors instead of a knife!

GROWING CHIVES

Grow some chives at home and have these tasty and handy herbs at your fingertips evey day. When you buy them in plastic bags in the supermarket, they are often quite expensive and perhaps non-organic – but the one issue, that is really something we can avoid at the moment, is that they are often sold in plastic bags… aaargh, more plastic.

Oh, and of course, they don’t stay fresh for very long. As soon as you open the bag, they will start deteriorating and need using straight away.

When you have a pot of chives on the windowsill or in the garden, you can cut exactly how much you want and they are always fresh and organic!

Tip: Cut chives from the outside of the plant so that the centre leaves get a chance to grow taller.

Chives are ideal for edging paths and borders and also make an excellent companion plant, deterring pests such as carrot root fly.

Chives are one of the few plants in the onion family that will grow readily from seed, and there are different varieties. Have a look in your local garden centre where you may be able to grab a ready grown plant or two as well – saving you the time to start off your own seeds.

Although, having said that, there is something very rewarding about growing your plants from seed. You could order them online as well of course. Amazon is always available of course!

Chive Seeds at Amazon (UK) 1600 Finest Italian Seeds: One of the most popular culinary herbs with narrow, grass-like leaves giving a mild onion-like flavour. A bulb spreads and forms clumps of tubular leaves 12-18 inches high and is also very decorative in full bloom with ball-shaped lavender-pink flowers.

Chives are a perfect pot plant to keep on the windowsill. You don’t need any garden space at all, so no excuses here 🙂

Happy herb growing!
Linda x

P.S. I extracted this text from 20 Everyday Herbs – a handy download if you’re thinking about growing some herbs this year.

20 everyday herbs

A potted history of twenty everyday herbs, step by step growing instructions, storing ideas and even medicinal uses.

Basil … Bay … Celery … Chives … Coriander … Dill … Fennel … Garlic … Horseradish … Lavender … Lemon Balm … Lovage … Marigold … Mint … Nasturtium … Oregano … Parsley … Rosemary … Sage … Thyme.

’20 Everyday Herbs’ is packed full of everything you need to know about how to grow herbs for everyday use. A must-have!

Choose from your favourite online bookstore:

Amazon (US) , Amazon (UK) , Barnes & Noble , Apple Books , Kobo , Payhip , Etsy