Monday, 11 August 2014

Growing herbs

Herbs are fragrant plants whose leaves are used to add flavour to dishes.

Basil -  plant grows well in warm climates.
Sweet Basil -  Ocimum basilium can be aromatic annuals, evergreen perennials or shrubs with opposite, linear to broadly ovate leaves and small tubular white or pinkish flowers in whorls forming a spike

Treat as an annual and grow in a light, well-drained, fertile soil in a sheltered position in full sun. Best grown containerised. May be grown as a short-lived sub-shrub if over-wintered under glass. Water freely in summer

There are numerous species of basil;  In Mediterranean regions, basil and tomato is a classic combination. Pesto, made from basil leaves and pine nuts, with parmesan or pecorino cheese and olive oil (traditionally pounded together in a mortar and pestle – the latter lends pesto its name) is another classic dish.

Mint -
Common names: Apple mint, Round-leaved mint, Woolly mint                        
Mentha are aromatic, rhizomatous perennials with opposite, toothed leaves and small tubular flowers in spikes of whorls in summer.

In poor, moist soil in full sun. To prevent mint becoming invasive, plant in deep containers and plunge these into the soil.                                                                      

There are many different species of mint, but the one used most widely in Western cooking is spearmint, native to the Mediterranean and widely cultivated in the UK. It can be ground into mint sauce or jelly - the ultimate accompaniment to roast lamb. Peppermint has dark green leaves and is used to flavour ice cream, sweets and confectionary

Parsley -
Common names: Flat-leaved, Italian, Plain-leaved, Ache, Devil-and-back-ten-times, Garden parsley,
Herb of death, Herb Venus.

In fertile, moist, but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Normally grown as an annual it can be overwintered although leaves become coarser in the second year

It can be used as a garnish and flavouring and as a vegetable. There are two main varieties: curly leaf and flatleaf. Both can be used for the same purposes although flatleaf parsley has a stronger flavour and tends to be favoured in Mediterranean cooking

Rosemary -
Rosmarinus are evergreen shrubs with narrow, aromatic leaves and 2-lipped blue flowers borne in small clusters in the leaf axils.

Easy to grow aromatic, evergreen shrub. Prefers poor, well-drained soil and may be used as a formal or informal low hedge which should be trimmed after flowering

Rosemary is a robust and most versatile herb with a flavour that complements a wide variety of dishes and ingredients. Native to the Mediterranean, its bittersweet green leaves resemble pine needles. The plant is an evergreen shrub, so the leaves are available fresh all year round.


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