THE CULTIVATION OF HERBS
If you want to make as much as possible from your garden you must on no account neglect growing a few herbs.
Herbs are very easy to grow, and when growing and cooking vegetables you are sure to need them. Herbs also make excellent companion plants for many types of vegetables.
Herbs help to fill up odd corners of the garden or can be grown as edgings to the plots. Some of them are very beautiful to look at such as the sages which have a gorgeous spike of blue flower, chives have a pretty pink blossom, and the fragrant scented thyme makes one of the nicest edgings, both in foliage and in bloom, that can possibly be grown.
Herbs can be freshly gathered to throw in the pot, but can also be dried and packed in attractive-looking packets or in well sealed bottles.
The following herbs and plants can be grown in borders and are ideal plants in any herb or vegetable garden.
Very useful for flavouring soups and stews. A small onion-like plant, which has a pretty pink bloom and makes a good edging. It grows about 20 cm high. Plant the bulbs or seeds. To increase stock divide as you would for shallots.
Grow from roots planted. Buy two roots to start with, as they will soon increase.
Plant 60 cm. apart. Fennel comes up looking like asparagus, and throws out fine green leaves which, when chopped, make fennel sauce for use with mackerel. Given where it not not need be disturbd, fennel grows wild once established. Fennel likes to be in a dry situation.
Horse-radish is always in demand. It should be grown in a corner by itself where it can spread undisturbed. Plant the heads or crown of sticks that have been used in the kitchen deeply in the ground; they shoot up and make a thick stem ready for use again.
Horse-radish spreads very rapidly, and once planted you cant get rid of it. Every little piece of shoot left in the ground grows again.or made into horse-raddish cream and put into attractive jars as gifts.
You can raise lavendar by seed sowing in drills and transplanting apart when the seedlings are three or four leaves, these make nice little plants. The more usual way of propergating lavendar is by taking cuttings. This is done by tearing from the old plant of young wood about 15 cm long, taking care to leave on each piece some ‘heel’ of the old wood.
When gathering blooms cut them with long stalks, as son as the first, two or three blooms at the bottom of the spike are open so the flowers retain their fragrance much longer.
There is always a great demand for mint, plant roots in a border about a metre wide, allowing plenty of room for the plants to spread. The roots creep along under the ground and new plants appear all round the original plant. Mint should be raised in pots. To do this, take up roots, plant in pots of a convenient size and place them in a warm sunny corner or in a frame. The kitchen gardener cuts the mint as as needed and returns the roots and boxes to you when it is all gone. Do not forget to dry some mint or place in icecubes to freeze for use in drinks.
Parsley will do well on any soil that is not too rich. If the soil is too good, it is apt to be rank and will not curl. It can be grown as an edging to the vegetable garden, where the fresh green leaves are easy to gather at any time.
Sow seed thinly, in drills and keep sow every month for succession.
Parsley will not transplant. Do not let it run to seed, although the plants will live for two years, it is much better to scrap them and raise fresh from seed and so get the finest quality.
Rosemary is a very attractive plant, and is probably my favourite herb. Rosemary makes a beautiful evergreen hedge in the flower garden, the blue—grey flowers blooming throughout May. It can be clipped when the flowering period is over, and
is easily grown from cuttings in the same way as lavender.
There is a good demand for this herb in the kitchen, for the making of stuffings for chicken, pork, etc. Grow from seed or from cuttings, as lavender. Gather the young top shoots for cooking as required, or dry all that remain. Do not let the plants get too old; take fresh cuttings every year to replace all three year-old plants. The old stalks can be placed under roasts (lamb, chicken or pork work well) as a flavoursome ‘dip tray’.
Useful in the making of tarragon vinegar. Plant a root or two which is enough to keep a kitchen stocked. Roots can be divided every year. The demand for tarragon is small, but a root or two should be planted in every herb garden as they are absolutly no trouble to grow.