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Grow your own herbs for a divine culinary feast
It's barbecue season! Grow herbs to add zing to your outdoor dining experience its easy! Just pop some edible plants in pots or in the ground now and you will have herbs lasting all summer-long. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver offers a great chicken recipe for the barbecue and there are more enticing recipes using fresh herbs here.
Which herbs can you grow for the kitchen? Here's a few suggestions:
Marjoram or Origanum: This delicious herb not only has brilliant health benefits (it's anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory), but it really adds something wonderfully aromatic to meat on the barbecue. You can also add a few leaves to bolognese to inject life and vitality and include origanum in home-made burgers too. It can be sprinkled onto pizzas and included in pies and even salads. Did you know that oregano is the term used for the dried herb? Fresh Origanum for cooking includes Origanum vulgare and Origanum onites (pot marjoram).
Thyme (Thymus) : It's actually a member of the mint family and it looks wonderful growing on paths and on the top of walls as well as within the herb garden of course. It has small grey-green leaves and works really well with vegetables, eggs, lamb, fish and game. Put it into casseroles too as it doesn't lose its flavour during slow cooking.
Mint: There are many different types and even their names are enough to make you drool! How about Chocolate mint; Apple mint; Banana mint; Strawberry mint and Menthol mint, for example? Mint has been used for centuries in cooking and it has great health benefits too. You can add it to meat dishes; to summer desserts and to drinks.
Sage: What an amazing plant! Sage works well in the herb garden but equally as well as an ornamental foliage plant in pots and in the borders. It is so versatile! There are actually dozens of different varieties including one that is used as a visionary herb... You can find out more about this here. Sage is a great herb for cooking and it can be used in eggs, omelettes, with chicken, lamb, in stuffings and even with apple and pineapple. It also looks beautiful have you seen Salvia officinalis Purpurescens or the bi-coloured version, Ictinerina? If there's just one herb you shouldn't be without, it's lovely sage.
Rosemary: The aromatic, evergreen Rosemary is a must-have for every herb garden. It's so easy to pick and use and completely hardy here in the UK . Use it in the kitchen with chicken, lamb, pork, salmon ad tuna and include it in soups and sauces too. Apart from its culinary uses, Rosemary has medicinal properties too the shoots, flowers and leaves all have positive health benefits including stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation and improving digestion. It's an anti-inflammatory herb too.
Coriander: Include some of this delicious herb in your collection and you will be rewarded with health benefits which include a boost to Vitamin C levels; anti-inflammatory properties which are particularly helpful to sufferers of arthritis; disinfectant qualities which are good for the skin, cholesterol- lowering properties and many more, including the fact that it's high in calcium and good for bone strength. What's more, its foliage is beautiful too! It's great in salads, on meat, in soups and as a garnish. Delicious!
Chives: Snip some chives into your salads; use them as a garnish for soups and sprinkle them on meat chives are so easy to use and simple to grow. Just keep them slightly damp and they will delight you with their purple pom-pom flowers which are loved by bees and they are edible too!
Basil: Make pesto sauce and use Basil to repel flies. It looks great as a table decoration and loves sunshine. Every time you brush past or even wander nearby you will be delighted with its delicious scent.
Make a basket filled with herbs for your home Four easy steps
STEP 1: Find a suitable wicker trough or container.
STEP 2: Fill with compost and mix in some grit or gravel to aid drainage.
STEP 4: Plant your herbs; fill in the gaps with compost and water well.
Now you are all set for a sizzling summer. All you need is the barbecue, some food and some sunshine of course!