So lets talk about herbs….
many of my recipes rely on herbage in order to transform the mundane into the sublime and whilst I have a mainstay of dried herbs at my disposal I do rely on their fresh counterparts to add a little extra something into the mix.
Fresh or Dried?
Well that really depends on what I’m cooking and the herb itself. Thyme, Rosemary Sage and Bay are all easily grown and do add much better flavour when fresh. Parsley (flat or curly) Basil and Tarragon are always better fresh but are not perennials and so are harder work to keep going. they are also much more seasonal and so aren’t available all year round.
I will always have a stock of dried herbs on hand as they are so quick to add in to dishes that need a lot of cooking – think stews, bologneses, soups or into rubs but these are only there to augment fresh herbs where needed. I do have a lot of dried spices, think cardamom, star anise, cumin (ground and seeds) and turmeric.
Ive been growing a herb garden in one of my beds now for 4 years and have really healthy Sage, Thyme, Rosemary Mint and Bay all growing happily together surrounding a rose bush and an old christmas tree, but thats no big secret.
My kitchen is TINY with an equally minuscule windowsill so I can’t really go all green fingered there. I keep an ongoing pot of Basil growing just because I use it so much but thats about it. I do however have a spare bedroom which has proved a godsend by giving me my real secret herb garden.
The back bedroom gets a lot of sun – its high up, so not ever in shade, with a long windowsill. The room doesn’t get used much so its the perfect place for me to cultivate those herbs I use but can’t grow outside. I had a few tin pails leftover from when we ran the ice cream van which make great pots to grow in and meant my set up costs were negligible.
What do I have?
I have pots of chives, Oregano, flat leaf parsley, a healthy chilli plant and more mint (you can never be too far from Mojitos). Ive even got salad leaves growing in a long container!! It sounds like lots but I’ve got a big windowsill and it does mean I’ve got these things fresh to hand when I need them and apart from watering and a little feeding they are very low maintenance.
I’m thinking about adding some radishes and cherry tomatoes in pots on the patio so I suppose I’ve got the gardening bug again. I just can’t believe that for so long I moaned about having nowhere to grow herbs in my kitchen, when all this time I had a secret garden waiting to happen!!
Have you had any cool secret garden ideas? If so I’d love to hear about them…