In my last post, I wrote about growing your own herbs, which should be a fiscal no-brainer. Wisely spend $20 at a nursery and you’ll never have to reach for a Gourmet Garden tube again.
Being a lazy gardener, I try to grow herbs that require minimal effort. Rosemary, thyme, and mint are the must-haves of my culinary garden. Rosemary and thyme are drought-tolerant and aren’t too fussy with their soil requirements. Mint doesn’t care where it lives; it can be quite invasive*.
More ambitious gardeners should try cultivating delicate herbs such as basil and coriander as these wilt the quickest when store-bought. They tend to be annuals, however, and need to be replanted yearly. The leaves also need to be preserved to ensure all-year-round supply**.
Herbs can be easily grown from seeds, but if you’re a gardening noob like me, then stick to seedlings. Buy the best that you can get; this doesn’t mean going for bigger plants, just picking out the best of the batch. When selecting plants, Meredith Kirton from Grow, Harvest, Cook offers the following advice: ‘First of all, check that the leaves are uniformly green…See if you can spot insect damage, weeds or fungus rot. Leave any contaminated plants alone…Never buy a pot-bound plant. You can tell these from the roots growing out of the base of the pot or circling the surface. Don’t hesitate to remove the pot to have a good look at the root system, but remember to replace it’ (via Dig).
Once you’ve chosen your seedling, bung it into a bigger pot with some potting mix*** and water it in with some seaweed emulsion****. Avoid drowning it and you’ll have fresh supplies of your culinary favourite in no time.
22 years, and 5 months to go,
*’Invasive’ is a nice way of saying that it’s a weed. My friend threw out some mint into the compost once; it has now taken over her lawn. If you do grow mint, keep it contained in a pot, don’t let it loose in your garden.
**Jeff Cox and Marie-Pierre Moine’s The Cook’s Herb Garden suggests ‘fill[ing]’ the ice cube tray to the brim with herbs and pour water over just to cover. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours…Use within 6 months.’
***No, sorry, you can’t skimp on this one. Soil from the garden will cake in your pot (I learnt this the hard way). Either buy premium potting mix or make your own.
****Seaweed emulsion is good for preventing transplant shock and very easy to make as per creepy old guy on YouTube: