Tips

Summer herbs

Purple-leafed-basil

Want a productive garden but don’t know where to start? The best way to begin is with a few herbs. Herbs don’t take up much space, and just one pot can produce bunches of abundant flavour. They’re economical to grow from seed and, by sowing every couple of weeks, the harvest can be spread over the season.

Yates has a wide selection of herbs in its seed range. Without doubt the most popular for sowing at this time of year is basil. Basil is a tropical plant that loves the warmth. As well as the traditional foodie favourite Sweet Basil, Yates has an attractive Purple Basil (pictured) that is pretty enough to be grown as an ornamental. And this spring there are two new basil seed packets from Yates. Cinnamon Basil has a sweet cinnamon scent and a flavour that marries perfectly with dessert dishes. Basil Minette is a compact, fine-leafed plant that forms a little rounded bush. It makes a neat, appropriate border for a herb bed.

There are some other interesting herb introductions to the Yates range for this spring. Lemon Balm is making a welcome re-appearance. This fast growing plant is one of the least demanding to cultivate and will last for years. Pick the lemon-scented leaves to add their lemony tang to drinks, soups and lemon teas.

An even more strongly scented herb is spearmint. Mints can be a little tricky to germinate so this is one to move onto once you’ve mastered basil and lemon balm. Spearmint is worth growing for its distinctively flavoured oil. It mixes well with Asian dishes and is classed as one of the essential herbs.

Watercress, now in Yates seed range, is rich in nutrients and has many medicinal uses. In about 400BC Hippocrates is said to have established his first hospital next to a stream so that he could have plenty of watercress for treating his patients.

Watercress is in the same family as cabbages, broccoli, mustard and rocket. The mustard oils in the leaves give it the peppery flavour that is released when the leaves are chewed. Watercress makes a trendy garnish or salad ingredient, or you can serve watercress sandwiches for high tea, just as the English did in the Victorian and Edwardian days.
Sow Yates Watercress seeds into a pot filled with moist, good quality potting mix. Thin and discard excess plants after germination. As you’d guess, watercress needs plenty of water and can’t be allowed to dry out. Once established, regular picking and fertilising will encourage plenty of new growth. An application of Yates Garden Lime once a year will keep the soil sweet, which watercress enjoys.

If you are a committed organic gardener, you’ll be pleased to know that there are some herbal additions to the Yates organic seeds range. They include Organic Coriander, Organic Sweet Basil and Organic Garlic Chives. Organic seeds are produced by plants that have been grown in organically certified conditions with no artificial fertilisers or pest controls.


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