If you are looking to expand your garden’s offering, these are the five plants you should consider growing right now.
Originally found in the British Isles, sweet cicely is most well-known for its use by Carthusian monks in making the liqueur, Chartreuse. With a similar flavour to aniseed, sweet cicely leaves can be used like spinach or added fresh to salads, soups, or omelettes. Its stems work a bit like celery and the roots make a great substitute for parsnips or other root vegetables and, if you are into it, can even make candied versions similar to ginger.
A traditional British dish involves using 50% cicely and 50% rhubarb to make a baked crumble, and as a bonus, some people use the plant to cure ailments such as stomachaches and coughs.
Dill is a feathery herb – the leaves of which make an excellent addition to fish, potato, and lamb dishes or even bread. The seeds are also commonly found in pickling recipes. Dill is extremely easy to grow and herb lovers swear that it attracts the kinds of insects that help your garden to grow. Its distinctive flavour is described as being a blend between celery and fennel.
Bay leaves find their way into almost any roast or stew. Known for its sharp, peppery, almost bitter taste, the humble bay leaf has formed a part of European and Meditteranean cooking since the days of Ancient Rome. Whole leaves can be added at the beginning of the cooking process, or ground up and added to soups and stews.
Many users claim a near-miraculous number of health benefits from using bay leaves in cooking, including the ability to reduce stress and anxiety as well as reduce inflammation. One study even connected the leaves with improved insulin receptor function and better-regulated blood sugar levels, suggesting that regular consumption of bay leaves can significantly lower the chances of diabetic episodes.
If you have drunk Earl Gray tea, then you are familiar with the flavour of bergamot. Essentially a type of citrus fruit, this isn’t one you will want to eat in your morning salad with strawberries and grapes. Bergamot oranges are extremely sour but used in moderation, shavings from the rind or the flesh of the fruit are a great addition to a number of different dishes including cookies, custards, marmalades, syrups, and cocktails.
As well as being an excellent aid for a variety of meals, bergamot is hailed for its use as a room freshener, as well as assist with proper digestion.
Ginger is a popular ingredient in cooking, and especially in Asian and Indian cuisine. It’s the backbone of ginger beer, ginger cookies, and gingerbread. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, as juice, or even candied as a dessert.
Additionally, ginger has been shown to help with nausea and offer some relief to the symptoms of colds and flues, and a study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.