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4 Herbs To Grow At Home

Now’s the time to plan your herb garden! Actually, there is no need to have an actual garden, so long as you have a balcony or small outside space that is light and sunny. Herbs don’t like shade or damp; like us, they enjoy warmth and sunshine! You can grow herbs in old buckets or large olive oil tins (remember to make drainage holes), window boxes, or plant pots.

Herbs have a magical ability to transform a simple combination of ingredients into a really special dish. I like to use copious quantities of fresh herbs. The ones I use most are flat parsley, mint, coriander and basil. They are essential to dishes like Frittatas, Tabouleh, Salsa Verde, Chermoula, and Pesto.

Read on to learn about preparing your herbs, and if you're interested in wild herbs take a look at our upcoming foraging classes!

Growing Herbs at Home

Basil

Also called sweet basil, an annual herb originally native to India and Iran. Basil is sweet, peppery and pungent. It is the main ingredient in pesto, and also works well torn onto pizzas or added to a ratatouille. It's the perfect complement to tomato, so try it in a simple tomato and mozzarella salad with lashings of the best extra virgin olive oil.

Growing Tips: Basil prefers warmth. I generally have more success with basil in a conservatory/green house or on a sunny windowsill than outside, unless we get a hot Mediterranean summer! There are a huge amount of varieties, but I like the common basil, small Greek basil and purple basil best.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Fresh Basil

Coriander

Also known as cilantro, a feathery annual herb native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. Coriander has a very pungent flavour that has only in the last 20 years become popular in Britain. It used to be considered an odious foreign flavour and not fit to eat! Fresh coriander can be used generously by the handful. It's the signature herb in Thai cooking, where they use not only the leaves but also the root in their curry spice pastes. Try coriander in salsa verde, spicy rice cakes, coconut laksas, and Mexican salsas. Coriander helps with digestion, which may be why it pairs so well with spicy foods.

Growing Tips: Coriander grows easily in tubs, but will go to seed very quickly in hot dry weather.

How to Grow Coriander at Home

Parsley

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean. There are two main types of parsley. The short curly parsley is traditionally used in British cooking, synonymous with parsley sauce and garnishes. There's also the flat leaf variety, which I prefer. Add lots of parsley to tabouleh, bangers and mash, and as a garnish to many soups. Never discard parsley stalks as they make a wonderful stock. Parsley is also good for you, as it increases the expulsion of uric acid and also freshens your breath.

Growing Tips: Parsley is tricky to germinate and likes well-drained soil. Unfortunately, if you grow it outside, slugs love it. Pick profusely to stop it going to seed. It should survive over winter.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Fresh Parsley

Mint

There are many varieties: spearmint or common mint, Boles mint with soft rounded leaves, pineapple mint, ginger mint and apple mint. Mint is important to many cultures. Coriander and mint chutney is one of my favourite additions to an Indian meal. Turkish pea, feta and mint crescents are delicious and refreshing. In Greece mint is used in traditional salads and tzatziki. Mint is good for digestion, so enjoy at the end of a meal as a tea. Simply take sprigs of fresh mint, pop them in a teapot, pour on boiling water and leave to stew for a few minutes. Mint is also amazing in a healthy smoothie, such as Monica's vegan Shamrock Shake.

Growing Tips: Mint is easy to grow and is best kept in a pot to contain the roots as it will take over your garden otherwise.

Fresh Mint Tea

Do you have any tips on growing herbs at home?

Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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