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Having a variety of herbs growing in the garden means you can easily pick and add them straight into food that is being prepared. Here are some all time favourites that can be grown without too much fuss or hard work.
Basil’s an annual, which means that it will die down when cold weather arrives, but because it grows quickly and easily from seed there’s still plenty of time for a warm season crop. Yates packet range includes the popular, leafy Sweet Basil and a collection called Gourmet Mix. Gourmet Mix grows a selection of basil varieties, including the very attractive purple-leafed basil.
Basil needs plenty of sun, good drainage and ample water. Because the plants are prone to leaf spots, try to water in the morning at the base of the plant, rather than over the leaves. Grow basil quickly with weekly applications of Thrive Soluble Plant Food. Pinch out the tips of plants if there’s any sign of flowers forming.
Basil originally comes from Asia and tomatoes from South America, but it took the Italians to discover the natural affinity of their flavours. It’s said that this happened by accident when a clever Italian began laying sprigs of basil over cooked tomatoes to keep flies away. Although basil can be used in many dishes, a tomato salad with basil-flavoured dressing seems to sing a real song of summer.
The flavour of onion without any of the bother – that’s the best way to describe chives. Chives are exceptionally easy to grow – great for beginners – and, in our relatively benign climate, they’ll last for years. Like basil, they’re easily grown from seed and are perfect for pots. Yates seed range includes both popular varieties: chives and garlic chives. Chives die back in winter but make up for this in spring when they produce heads of mauve flowers. Garlic chives have flattish leaves that survive right through the cold weather.
Chives are most commonly chopped into pasta, egg or cheese dishes to give a mild onion flavour, but one fun way to use them is to half fill a jar with mauve chive blossoms and then fill to the top with white wine vinegar. The vinegar takes on a lovely rosy colour and a rich onion flavour.
Thyme is one of the very tough Mediterranean herbs. Grow from Yates seeds and, once the plants are established, they will thrive on neglect. Good drainage and plenty of sun are their main requirements.