OUR HERB BED is still flourishing with sage, thyme and purple basil ready for the delicious meals you’re making. Providing winter isn’t too harsh we should be able to continue to harvest the sage, thyme and oregano, but the purple basil needs to be eaten before the first frosts arrive (usually around 5th November). The fennel will also die back, so pick some of her greener fronds now for your digestive teas and salad flavourings. The mint is also past its time and will hibernate for the winter before springing back to life with warmer days. Yarrow leaves can be picked for your salads – their bitterness a tonic for the digestive system. Make the most of the lemon balm before we cut it back for its winter sleep – it makes a delightful calming and aromatic tea.
With time we hope to help you deepen your knowledge of and relationship with the herbs, using labels and workshops to help you tap into their many qualities and uses. For now we encourage you to visit the bed and take what you need for your meals & teas… they’ve been growing all summer to give us this bounty! We’ll be looking after the bed through the winter to bring it back to its fullest in summer.
As we move into Autumn it’s great to reflect on the joys this little bed of herbs has brought us this season: from the Glazebrook Growers meeting where we added different herbs to our hummus and rice crackers to create a true smorgasboard of tastes, to the magical Medicinal Herbs workshops delivered by Janine Gerhardt in July. If you didn’t make it, or want a daydream of summer, read on…
Medicinal Plants with Janine Gerhardt
ON A SUNNY JULY DAY the engaging and passionate herbalist Janine Gerhardt came to the Kitchen Garden to lead our first medicinal plants workshop.
SEE HOW HAPPY our Winter Crops are! We sowed trays of mizuna, red mustard and other leafy crops just after our September workshop and they all sprang up. We’re now halfway through pricking out the seedlings and potting them up so they get good strong root systems before we plant them out.
Kitchen Gardeners, half the seedlings still need potting up! Everything you need is currently in the garden. Those who don’t know how to do it, read on…
How to prick out and pot up seedlings
INSTEAD OF THINNING OUT your seedlings (pulling some out to give the others space), you can prick them out of the seed tray and put each one straight into a pot. That way we get a plant from every seedling that comes up.
You’ll see for these pics I used a recycled polystyrene tray instead as we’re running low on pots. It needs to be something deep enough to give the roots a bit of room. Here’s what to do:
1. Fill your pot or container with compost – but not right to the top or it will overflow when you water it – and make a little hollow to receive the seedling. At the moment we have multipurpose compost and seed compost (see below). Use the multipurpose – the stuff in the yellow bag.
2. Holding the seedling GENTLY by a leaf, use a blunt pencil or something similar (plant label did the trick) to tease the roots out of the compost. Don’t touch the stem.
…if you get some soil with the roots, so much the better, but it might all fall away.
3. Not to worry: as long as the roots and stem aren’t damaged, it will be fine. The seedling should go straight from the tray to the prepared compost with zero time for the roots to dry out. Lower the roots into the hole, fill in and press gently down around the seedling.
If your seedling is long and spindly, bury it halfway up the stem so it can send more roots out sideways. (A note of caution: if you try this with older plants they may rot).
When you’ve done a few, water them.
4. Finally, label! Actually we don’t have enough labels to do every pot, but label at least one, and keep the pots grouped by type (as in the first photo). That way we’ll know what we’ve got when we come to share out our Winter Crops.