I don’t use many fresh herbs … far easier to sprinkle dried herbs from a jar than to pick, wash and chop them all fresh! But I can use as much as I can grow of parsley, chives, sage and mint.

Sage is no problem – we have a bush in the front garden, and although DH mangled it this spring (he called it pruning) it has sprung back into life to provide the handful of leaves I need for the one recipe in which I use fresh sage* đŸ˜€

Chives are usually plentiful … but the rearrangement of the garden to accommodate both the hens and the raised veg patches this year means I’ve lost the row of chives alongside the path. I’ve grown a few from seed, but they are slow to get going, so I bought a supermarket living herb pot of chives, hardened them off then split them into small bunches and planted them out at the end of a couple of the veg patches. They appear to have survived, so hopefully I’ll have sufficient this summer, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty in years to come.

Parsley is frustratingly slow to germinate and grow – or perhaps it’s just in my garden? I gave up in the end and bought some small pots of parsley from B&Q – far more expensive than growing from seed, but I now have six reliable, if small, plants to last me this summer and early next year. I’m sure one year I managed a row in the veg beds, but I’ve not done it since. If I end up with a bare patch anywhere, I may try again now it’s warmer.

Mint grows like a weed … which is why I’m reluctant to plant in anywhere it can run free. But pot grown mint, even the largest pot I have in the garden, provides insufficient for my needs … I use hands full in tabbouleh, kedgeree and other dishes, as well as needing several bunches for mint jelly once the apples ripen in autumn. We grow it at our holiday home so I often bring bunches home from there to freeze until needed for the jelly. But I really must find a place for it to grow here at home. There is one corner of the garden that is rather damp and totally shaded, where little else grows, so I wonder if it’s worth a try there? Even if it spreads to the grass, the grass there is thin and weedy … I really must do something soon, or I may have to buy some in đŸ˜®

(Actually, on Sunday I was given a bunch of mint by an elderly lady from DC1 who has it growing wild in the garden, so I’m sure I could ask her for more … but I’d like to have it to hand as needed.)

I do also have a broad leaf thyme and a marjoram in the garden, which I use occasionally, but I wouldn’t consider them essential. Rosemary is readily available, although I occasionally lose a bush to lavender beetle. But it grows fairly rapidly when I replant it, so it’s not a major problem. I use it regularly, but not in the same quantities as the others, so it’s grown as a shrub rather than as a herb. Basil I buy as a living herb, but it doesn’t keep for long on my north facing kitchen windowsill … I have recently split a pot of growing basil to see if I can bring it on in the garden, but it’s too early yet to tell if I’ve been successful. Again, I like to use it, but it’s not vital.

I’m sure there are others I should try … tarragon for one, although I suspect DH won’t like it. We grow fennel for the foliage, but not for eating, as he doesn’t like the aniseed flavour. TBH I’m not even sure how to use it, but it’s a pretty plant and useful as structure in the garden. Last year I grew German chamomile for tea (as opposed to English chamomile with which you grow chamomile lawns) but don’t have the space this year – it’s not that easy to find the right seed, either. I’m sure there are others … coriander for example, but unless you use them in large quantities, it’s unnecessary space, time and effort when you can buy a bunch as you need it!

*An Economy Gastronomy recipe for turkey steaks, which coats the meat in chopped sage before dipping them in a thick batter and then spicy breadcrumbs. It’s a huge favourite with the girls, but I only make it when I can find the right cut of meat on offer!

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