Spring is the most exciting time of the year to immerse oneself in the garden! The brooding atmosphere of winter has begun to lift and the chill in the air is becoming few and far between. Growing your own herbs at this time of year is a no-brainer – from the obvious health and taste benefits of super fresh herbs; to avoiding the waste of an entire bunch of store-bought herbs for just a simple garnish. Not to mention the ease and satisfaction of growing and eating from your own herb garden! You need not be a seasonal gardener with raised beds to get started. In fact, most herbs can grow quite happily in a few small pots placed in a sunny window.
Celebrate spring with these 4 herbs to cover you for all culinary endeavours:
Mint is a plant that will spread all over the place if planted straight into the ground, which is why it might be preferable to plant it in a large pot that can be placed in a prominent position for easy picking. Mint is happiest kept in the shade. One of the best things about growing mint is that once it’s established, you’ll never have to plant it again! It keeps coming back every year. Pick your mint regularly to keep the plants compact and to ensure lots of new shoots. Mint tends to die back over winter, so make the most of your spring/summer harvest.
Fave Culinary Uses: From a freshly brewed mint tea or mojito, to a mix of sprigs with spring peas, to a classic mint sauce for roast lamb and new potatoes, mint is one of the most versatile culinary herbs. Try this Mint Choc Chip Smoothie Bowl for a breakfast or sweet treat that’ll put an extra spring in your step.
Basil grows best if started as seeds indoors and then transplanted outside when the temperature is consistently above about 10°C. The best options for growing basil are to either a) Sow the seeds near a sunny window or in a greenhouse in early spring and then transfer to the garden in early summer; or b) Sow the seeds directly into the garden in late spring. Once the flower stalks of basil appear, its flavour begins to turn bitter, so be sure to cut back stems to encourage more leaf growth and large plants by the end of the season.
Fave Culinary Uses: Freshly grown basil is best known for its use in fresh pesto, or as an aromatic addition to many Italian dishes. Try our go-to Basil Pesto Pasta for an easy midweek dinner. Note that it is okay to include the smaller basil stems in dishes, however thicker stems and stalks should be discarded because they tend to be bitter in taste.
This polarising yet still popular herb grows best in either sunny or partially shaded areas, so can actually be planted in winter if you wish. Coriander seeds will even tolerate a light covering of snow if they have to, and the minute it is warm enough they will germinate! Collect as needed, cut the outside stems and keep the soil moist but not soggy. If left to flower, coriander should reseed itself each year.
Fave Culinary Uses: The love-it-or-hate-it fresh flavour of coriander can be used in anything from Indian dishes, to Asian stir-fries, to Mexican morsels. Use it to garnish this Creamy Red Lentil Dahl, these Kumara Chip Vege Nachos, or these Chickpea Lettuce Cups. It’s also a key ingredient in our Falafel Nourish Bowl and the Pea Hummus side in this Freekeh Mushroom Salad recipe. Don’t forget to include coriander in your homemade guacamole!
Thyme really is the smell of summer! It thrives in full sun and loves heat, so is best grown in direct sunlight. Thyme grows like a weed and therefore is best planted in a location with plenty of room to spread. Keep it in full-sun and water it sparingly. Be sure to snip off flowers to encourage more leaf growth too!
Fave Culinary Uses: Thyme is included in many savoury dishes to add an additional layer of flavour without being overwhelming, such as meat & fish dishes, soups, sauces, braises and even hummus (try our Garlic and Herb Hummus). This Mushroom and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie uses thyme in the filling, as well as the garnish. Thyme may also be sometimes used as a cocktail element or in a freshly brewed tea!