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By October 14, 2017 0 Comments Read More →

Gift ideas – Herbs

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Julia Squires has created a cottage business supplying herbs in unusual containers. Here she provides tips on creating a handy 24/7 kitchen herb garden

Here at Coombe Cottage, since leaving the rat race, our new life has opened up many exciting doors for us – one of which is growing and selling herbs. I have always enjoyed using fresh herbs to complement and liven up meals, so when I was approached by a local garden centre to start supplying them, I jumped at the chance and began providing herbs for the kitchen windowsill. They grow well in the polytunnel and look and smell wonderful, but plant pots aren’t the prettiest thing to see in the kitchen whilst whipping up the family meal, and so grew another idea – herbs planted in old china!

I now also supply our local farmers’ market in Callington with dainty cups, jugs, sugar pots and teapots overflowing with the typical herbs many of us use day to day, including oregano, coriander, parsley, sage, dill, thyme and, of course, basil.

Herbs are tolerant little plants and simply require good drainage, a little plant food each month and a nice bright windowsill and they’ll be happy as Larry! Here is an easy way to brighten up your kitchen windowsill and make cooking the evening meal a bit more cheerful.

METHOD

1           Select the crockery in which you will be planting your herbs. The larger the vessel, the more you can plant in it, but remember that herbs do bush up once you start picking from them.

2           Using a drill with a diamond-tipped bit, carefully make a drainage hole in the centre of the base of your crockery. We found that the fluffy side of self-adhesive Velcro stops the bit slipping, and if removed carefully it can be used again. Also, remember that crockery can become hot during drilling, so it’s advisable to wear protective goggles just in case.

3           Mix a little sand with compost to put in first. Herbs prefer a loam-based compost like John Innes No. 1. The added grit in this also helps with drainage.

4           I grow my herbs from seed and have realised it is better to get them straight into the teapot or cup after pricking out. If this isn’t possible, do not grow them on in too much compost or you’ll have terrible trouble easing them into their new homes!

5           A nice, bright windowsill is the perfect spot for a herb planter, but remember that herbs are a bit like us in that they don’t like to be chilly. During the colder months, move them away from the window at night to protect them from any drops in temperature.

6           Watering once a week is sufficient, and you may want to give them a little feed after a while. I use an organic, seaweed-based liquid feed. Don’t be tempted to overfeed, as this may reduce the flavour, and you certainly won’t want that!

7           Other objects can provide an unusual home for your kitchen herbs, too. I use jam jars with coloured sand or pebbles in the base for added interest. It isn’t necessary to drill holes in the jars, just remember to add a good layer of pebbles or sand, as this will help prevent your herbs becoming waterlogged.

8           Old tins make great containers, too, but be careful when washing them out, as the inner rim can be sharp. Simply paint them with a primer, spray with a metal paint (we pop our tins upside down on a beer bottle to spray), then plant out.

9           You can also get creative around the top of the jars or tins with beads or raffia ‒ they will certainly make great gifts for any budding cooks you may know!

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