The herb seed that is very popular is Borage (Borago officinalis).
It is easy to pick up a pot or two of your favourite herbs, but when it comes to variety, growing herbs from seed is the way to go. The gourmet herbs like Florence fennel and French tarragon are often hard to find in garden centres, as are the more traditional herbs like borage, lemon balm, chamomile, evening primrose and sorrel.
According to Marlaen Straathof, of Kirchhoffs Seeds, it also makes sense to raise fast growers like rocket, coriander, chives, garden cress and basil from seed.
“They germinate so fast that the first leaves can be harvested as mini or micro greens within two to three weeks of sowing and after that can be grown as cut and come again herbs or succession sown in smaller quantities for a constant supply of young and tender leaves,” says Straathof.
A new addition to the Kirchhoffs herb range is Lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum), that combines the delicious basil fragrance with the zest of lemon. It grows quickly and easily from seed into a neat bush, 30cm high and wide. Use the glossy leaves with fresh strawberries, in salads and with fish, especially prawns, as part of a salad or in pasta. Plants tolerate a wide range of weather conditions and remain disease free.
Plant in full sun in fertile soil that drains well and water regularly. When using the leaves, tear rather than chop to retain the aroma. An allround garden herb that Straathof recommends is Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Its feathery bronze foliage makes it an eye-catching plant in any area of the garden, not just with the veggies and herbs. Straathof suggests combining it with white roses or alyssum, silvery irises, lamb’s ear, or golden foliage plants like Duranta or Abelia.
Fennel grows easily, likes well-drained soil and will thrive in full sun or morning sun. It can grow up to 150 cm. Add finely chopped fennel leaves to green beans, salads, fish, as stuffing for chicken, or mixed with cream cheese. Fennel leaves improve the texture of compost.
The herb seed that is very popular is Borage (Borago officinalis). It has small bright blue flowers and an informal growth habit, reaching a height of 60cm. It is waterwise, easily growing in poor soil in a sunny spot. The leaves are rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts, and have a light cucumber taste. Cook like spinach or add to spinach, add to bean and pea soups, use with fish or make Borage fritters by dipping the leaves in batter and frying. The decorative flowers can be added to salads, punches and desserts. Midsummer is the best time to sow the quick growers.
There are two types of rocket – wild rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) and rocket (Eruca sativa). Wild rocket has narrower leaves and a stronger flavour than normal rocket also known as arugula. The peppery leaves are delicious in sandwiches, can be made into a pesto, and added by the handful to salads or as a garnish on pizza. All rocket varieties like rich well composted, friable soil and plenty of water.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) also known as cilantro or Danja, is one of those love it or hate it herbs but once you have developed a taste for it, no sandwich, salad, or Mexican tortilla is safe. It is a quick growing, leafy annual that grows best with plenty of sun, in fertile, well-drained soil. Always remove the flower heads to encourage leafy growth. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron.
Snip the green leaves into egg and cheese dishes, add to sandwiches or use as a garnish. Like parsley, adding one or two tablespoons a day to the diet takes very little effort.
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