What is a herb? Herbs can be classified in a variety of different ways. In general any herbaceous or woody plant which is aromatic in one or more of its parts and
which is considered to have culinary, medicinal or cosmetic value, can be regarded as a herb. Suggested kinds to start with are the 'Big Five'. Parsley, mint, thyme, chives and sage. From these you can expand to include marjoram, garlic, fennel, rosemary, sorrel, tarragon, angelica and savouries.
One of the nicest and most satisfying ways to grow herbs is to collect them together into a small garden within a garden. It is easier then to give them the special attention and conditions they like. Herbs enjoy sun and shelter from the wind.
LAYOUT OF THE HERB GARDEN
The herb patch can become a feature in the garden. Paving lends itself to herbs, as it gives definition. It can be used in a kind of chess board pattern or laid out like the spokes of a wheel. A hedge around the herb garden will create shelter; use herbs themselves to form hedges such as lavender, rosemary, sage or sweet bay.
If the garden is to be laid out in a square, it could have a bed in each corner with a centre piece such as a sundial, birdbath, statue, column or water feature. A seat in the centre or to one side will always be popular, so that the fragrance and aroma of the herbs can be enjoyed. There is a certain peacefulness about a herb garden.
However you decide to lay out your herb garden, try to design it on paper first. This is good for blending the colours of foliage and flowers. Make sure that herbs, which like the same conditions, are planted together.
Obviously one of the best places to grow cooking herbs is as near to the kitchen as possible. If you have a paved area outside your kitchen door, this is the ideal area for 'mobile' herbs, place them in window boxes, pots, hanging baskets and miniature gardens. They can be moved about and given the best position for light and sun.
HERBS AND THEIR USES - We all know about thyme and sage stuffing, mint sauce, parsley sauce, chopped chives in salad and a touch of garlic in various dishes.
BASIL: Leaves are used in cookery, pasta sauces and in curries. Likes a sunny position in sandy type soil.
THYME: Ideal in savoury dishes, sunny spot, ideal in containers or in between paving.
CHIVES: More delicate in flavour than onions ideal in sauces and salads. Grow in sun or shade.
MINT: Used for cooking and ideal for drinks and teas. Likes a damp soil, grows easily.
PARSLEY: Best added to cooking in the last few minutes, use in white sauce, perfect with fish also stews, soups and salads. Keep well watered grows best in semi-shade.
MARJORAM: (Origanum) Used for flavouring sausages and in meat dishes. Wonderful in pasta sauces, on pizzas and in cheese dishes, likes sun.
SAGE: Aromatic leaves used in cooking with pork, duck and chicken. Does not like a heavy wet soil.