It’s starting to feel like spring at last and this is a time when most plants start moving and growing again and it is an especially good time for herbs. Herbs grow prolifically through spring, so plant them now and reap a bountiful harvest of fragrant leaves and flowers in a very short time. Many of you will already have common herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, growing in your gardens, but what about others like tarragon, or hyssop or five-seasons herb. Let me introduce you to some less common culinary herbs that are easy to grow, look fantastic in the garden and are really useful in the kitchen. Read more
The lovely autumn days entice me into the garden where I have been madly weeding and cutting back the prolific summer growth. I love this time of year when the soil is still warm, so plants are still growing, but the intense heat has gone. Two plants that come into their own now are corn salad and landcress. These are both annuals (landcress is sometimes biennial) that self sow around my garden providing salad greens right though autumn and winter.
Corn salad (Valerianella locusta) is also known as lamb’s lettuce, and has a delicate very mild flavour with soft leaves that almost melt in the mouth. The leaves are pale green and rounded and grow in small clumps. You can pick the leaves individually or cut whole plants just above the ground, they will re-shoot. Plants only reach about 30cm in height. There are cultivars with golden, extra large and darker green leaves. Grow corn salad in temperate and cold regions from seed sown in autumn, winter and spring—in hot weather it goes to seed almost immediately. I find that mine goes to seed in spring, then disappears until autumn when the plants appear again in a dense clump. Read more
Just as the success of a meal depends on the quality of the ingredients, so too does the success of a compost heap. If you add only kitchen scraps you’re likely to end up with a slimy, black mess and if it’s all leaves and twigs then the chances are that is what will still be there months later. The fine detail of a compost recipe varies depending on the expert you are consulting, but all compost systems require free drainage, adequate moisture and a mixture of strawy, open material and green plant tissue. The purpose of composting is to break down garden and kitchen ‘waste’ into humus that can then be added to the garden to supply nutrients in a form that can be readily used by plants. Read more