Recommended Herbs for the Herb Garden

Unlike most English plant names, the names given to herbs are remarkably consistent all over the British Isles. The herbs are therefore listed here under their English names as they are in herbalists’ and nursery catalogues, and their Latin names follow in brackets. A plant with the specific name officinalis is the officinal or medicinal member of its particular family. The part of the plant to be used is stated in each case.

ANGELICA (Angelica archangelica) Stem

Annual. Sow thickly because the seed is not very viable, and choose a damp and shady spot. Thin seedlings to 1-½ ft. apart. Cut the stems in May and June while they are tender, or cut from the side shoots as late as mid-August. Crystallize the stems for use in confectionery, or use them fresh with rhubarb in compote or jam to reduce the acidity and to add flavour. Essential oil from the seed is used in liqueurs.

To crystallize, cut the young stems into short lengths and boil until tender in a little water in a covered pan. Remove from the water, drain and strip off the outer skin, return to the water and simmer for a further 25 min. The stems will take on a green colour.

Drain, dry, weigh and, after scattering them on an oven tray, sprinkle them with an equal weight of sugar. Cover and leave to stand for two days.

Put the resulting mixture in a pan, add a few drops of water to prevent burning, and bring just to the boil. Remove and drain; then add to a fresh syrup made of equal quantities of sugar and water and simmer for 10 min. Then spread out the pieces on a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper, and place them in a cool oven until dry to the touch.

ANISE (Pimpinella anisum) Seed

Annual. Grow 1 ft. apart in warm border in dry, light, fairly rich soil. Gather seed in August, dry it and use for scattering over cakes, pancakes, salads, soups and young carrots.

ARTEMESIA (Artemisia spicata) Whole herb

Propagate by division. Use either fresh or dried for flavouring, or include in a mixture of aromatic leaves. It is also used as an ingredient of vermifuge medicine and tonics.

BALM (Melissa officinalis) Leaves

Propagate by division. Plant 1 ft. apart in any soil. Use leaves fresh or powdered in fish sauces, stuffings, or as substitute for lemons. Use fresh leaves in salads and summer drinks.

BASIL, SWEET (Ocimium basilicum) Leaves

Annual. Sow under glass in February and plant out in May 1 ft. apart. Use the leaves of this clove-scented plant sparingly to flavour soups—especially turtle, mock-turtle and tomato — and in tomato dishes, salads, omelets, sausages, minced meat and drinks.

To make basil vinegar, pick the leaves before the plants flower, allowing 8 oz. Leaves to 2 qts. white wine vinegar. Wash the leaves, put them in a bowl and cover them with the vinegar. Cover the bowl and leave to soak for a fortnight. Strain and bottle.

BAY, SWEET (Laurus nobilis) Leaves

Propagate by cuttings. Use whole leaf. In fish dishes, milk puddings, sauces or game, but remove before serving. Bay leaf is always included in bouquet garni.

BERGAMOT (Monarda didyma) Leaves and flowers

Propagate by division or cuttings. Plant in sun, in deep rich soil, 1 ft. apart. Use leaves, or leaves and   flowers,  as an infusion or a flavouring. Varieties with red flowers, such as Cambridge Scarlet, make an exotic decoration for a salad, or can be floated in punches or fruit cups. Dip the flowers in water first, because earwigs are particularly fond of hiding in the flute-shaped florets. Bergamot is sometimes called bee balm or Oswego tea.

BORAGE (Borago officinalis) Leaves and flowers

Annual. Grow in poor, stony soil 2 ft. apart. Use leaves for flavouring claret cup or soft drinks. An infusion of the leaves, fresh or dried, allowed to cool and served with ice, makes a refreshing drink, and looks most attractive with the blue borage flowers floating in it. Flowers can be candied.

CARAWAY (Carum carvi) Seed

Annual. Grow on any soil 1 ft. apart. Dried seeds are used in cakes, bread, salads and mixed with cream cheeses. Can be sprinkled on lamb or pork chops before cooking to enhance the flavour.

CHAMOMILE (Anthemis nobilis) Flowers

Perennial. Grow in a rich soil 9 in. apart. Use flowers either dried or fresh to make chamomile tea, a treatment for insomnia and a tonic. Dry the flowers quickly if they are to be used for tonics and shampoos.

To make a chamomile lawn, put the young plants raised from seed into a previously raked and level plot in April or May, 4 or 5 in. apart in staggered rows. Allow the chamomile to flower in the first season in order to develop and spread the plants. Thereafter mow the lawn, making sure that the blades are set as high as possible. The plant gives off a musky perfume when trodden.

CHERVIL (Anlhriscus cerefolium) Leaves

Annual. Make successive sowings from February to September, thin seedlings to 6 to 8 in. apart, and water in dry weather. To produce good leaves, discourage the plant from flowering. Cut the leaves six to eight weeks after sowing. Fresh chopped leaves impart an aniseed flavour to salads, sauces (sauce tartare) and soups. Use the dried leaves in stuffings. Chervil vinegar is made in the same way as tarragon vinegar and can be used in the preparation of salad dressings.

CHIVES (Allium schoenoprasum) Leaves

Perennial but needs dividing every four or five years. Plant 1 ft. apart in May and divide a few in autumn. Put a cloche over a few crowns during the winter so that fresh leaves can be pulled in March or April. Fresh leaves impart a mild onion flavour to salads, egg and cheese dishes, and are used in sauce tartare and fines herbes.

COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) Leaves and roots

Propagate by seed or division. Grow in damp soil 2 ft. apart. The leaves alleviate pain and reduce the swelling attendant upon breaks and sprains. Soak a few dried leaves in hot water and allow to cool before bathing the affected part with the liquid. To relieve congestion of the chest, boil the roots and leaves in twice their depth of water until the liquid is reduced to a third, and add sugar or lemon before drinking. The young shoots can be eaten like asparagus after blanching. Comfrey is often called knitbone or boneset.

CORIANDER (Coriandrum sativum) Seeds and leaves

Annual. Sow seeds at monthly intervals throughout the summer, thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart, and gather the leaves when young to use in soups and salads. Flavour like dried orange peel. Use seeds in curries and chutneys, and on cakes, bread, milk puddings and cream cheeses.

DILL (Peucedanum graveolens) Seed and leaves

Annual. Grow anywhere 6 in. apart. Use with restraint. The seeds add an anise flavour to pickles and soups and, if soaked in wane vinegar for a few days, produce dill vinegar, usually used for pickling gherkins. Dill water is a well known liquid for soothing babies. Use chopped leaves in sauces for fish, sprinkled on boiled potatoes or fresh salmon and, mixed with other herbs, for omelets and salads.

FENNEL (Foenicuhm vulgare syn. F. officinale) Leaves, seed and stem

Sow seed in a sunny place. Can grow to 6 ft. Use fresh or dried leaves for flavouring sauces, particularly those served with oily fish—blanch the fresh leaves in hot, salted water and then chop finely — or for making fennel tea. Seed can be added to soup and pastry, but the anise flavour is strong. Cook the thick fleshy stalks like celery or use shredded in salad.

GARLIC (Allium sativum) Bulb

Plant sets in light soil 9 in. apart. The type grown in England is rather coarse and strong — the Mediterranean variety is more delicate. Use the cloves of garlic with discretion in sauces and salads.

HYSSOP (Hyssopus officinalis) Young shoots

Propagate by cuttings. Plant in a sunny position in dry soil 1 ft. apart. Hyssop is an evergreen shrub with blue, pink or white varieties. It is now grown chiefly for garden decoration, although its shoots are sometimes used to make hyssop tea — a remedy for the relief of coughs, colds and sore throats. Infuse ½ oz. Crushed dried leaves in 1 pint boiling water and leave to stand for is min. before taking.

LAVENDER (Lavandula spica) Whole herb

Propagate by cuttings. Plant in sun and poor soil 2 to 3 ft. apart. Strong aroma. Used commercially for the distillation of lavender water, and domestically as a moth deterrent and ingredient of pot-pourri.

For use in lavender bags, cut the flower stalks in the first week of July when the flowers are almost mature, to capture most of the essential oils. Dry in the usual way, and then rub the flowers from the stalks between the hands or on a hard board.

If dealing with any quantity of lavender, wear a damp handkerchief or scarf over the nose and mouth as a protection against the dust.

MARJORAM (Origanum onites) Leaves

Propagate by cuttings or division. Plant in hot, dry position 1 ft. apart. One of the bouquet garni herbs, used in most stuffings, and also to flavour omelets.

MINT or SPEARMINT (Mentha spicata) Herb

Propagate by division. Plant in shade in damp soil 1 ft. apart. Use to make mint sauce, jelly, butter and tea; use sprigs in iced drinks or cook with young vegetables. Mint can be dried for winter use and is used as an ingredient of some pot-pourri and as a basis for hair tonics. Applemint (Mentha rotundifolia) is often used as a substitute for spearmint.

To make mint jelly, take 1 pint apple juice, 1 lb. Sugar, a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice, and mint. Put the apple juice in a saucepan, add a small bunch of mint and a few drops of either wine vinegar or lemon juice, and boil until the liquid is flavoured. Add sugar, remove mint and boil until setting point is reached. Add a little finely chopped fresh mint and a few drops of green colouring. Pour into jars and cover when cool.

To make mint julep, dilute 1 cup fresh lemon juice with 1 cup water and add as many mint leaves as the liquid will hold. Leave for half an hour, then pour on to ice and add 6 small bottles of dry ginger ale.

NASTURTIUM (Tropaeolum majus) Young leaves, flowers and seed

Annual. Grow in poor, hot soil 6 in. apart. Use leaves and flowers in salads. The seeds, if picked when young, are a perfect substitute for capers.

PARSLEY (Petroselinum crispum) Leaves

Grow in damp, shady position 10 in. apart. Used fresh for flavouring salads and vegetables, and fresh or dried in stuffings. Parsley tea, butter or jelly (see recipe for mint jelly) are also well known. To fry parsley as an accompaniment to fried fish or gammon, scatter it into fat and cook for a minute over a low heat, then drain on paper before serving. As parsley shrinks when cooked, use four times as much as is required.

Parsley does not dry if treated in the usual way for drying leaves. Wash the leaves, preferably the tender, uncurled Trench type, dip them in boiling water and put on a baking tray in a very hot oven for just a minute. Bottle at once.

PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita) Herb

Propagate   by  division.  Plant  in   rich, moist soil 9 in. apart. Use dried for flav-ouring sweets. Store the dried leaves for making peppermint tea.

PENNYROYAL (Menthapulegiwn) Young shoots

Propagate by division. Plant in moist and shady place 6 in. apart. Use tender tips of shoots sparingly to add peppermint flavour to salads.

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinusofficinalis) Whole sprig

Propagate by cuttings. Plant in dry, sunny place 3 ft. apart. Use the sprigs as cut flowers in early summer. Rosemary is the herb of remembrance used on Remembrance Sunday. Use the leaves fresh for flavouring mutton, lamb or rabbit and in a veal stuffing—only one small sprig is needed for each dish. Rosemary tea is a pungent and refreshing tisane for the treatment of head colds—pour 1 pint boiling water over a handful of rosemary sprigs (fresh or dried) containing both leaves and flowers.

Rosemary is also used as a constituent of hair tonics and oils. Make a scalp tonic by mixing equal quantities of southernwood and rosemary with a quarter of the quantity by weight of camphor. Put the mixture in a bowl or jug and pour over it 1 pint boiling water. Leave it to stand for an hour, then strain and bottle. Rub a little into the scalp each day.

RUE (Rutagraveolens) Leaves

Propagate by seed or cuttings. Grow in dry position 2 ft. or more apart. Makes a rounded evergreen bush, with deeply divided leaves of a dark blue-green, which have a bitter, acrid taste. The variety Jackman’s Blue is worth a place in the decorative garden. Rue is grown mainly for its medicinal value for poultry and cattle diseases, although rue tea is made for the relief of indigestion.

Make an infusion by pouring 1 qt. Boiling water over a handful of rue leaves. Leave it to stand for 24 hours, strain and bottle. Take about a wine-glassful each day.

SAGE (Salvia officinalis) Leaves

Plant 4 ft. apart in a light soil and a dry or well-drained position. A rather spreading, grey-leaved evergreen shrub, which can be propagated by spring or summer cuttings. When old and leggy, pull the branches down on to a mound of soil and they will root themselves. Sever these layers from the parent plant in May.

Use chopped fresh leaves sparingly in porridge or sandwiches; use dried leaves in stuffings for pork, duck and goose.

SAVORY, SUMMER (Salureia hortensis) and WINTER (Satureia montana) Leaves

Summer savory is an annual, while winter savory is a perennial propagated by cuttings. Grow in poor soil 6 in. apart. Use fresh leaves of either plant for flavouring broad beans, and use fresh or dried in fish, cheese and egg dishes, stuffings and soups.

SORREL (Rutnex acetosa) Leaves

Propagated by seed or division. Grow in deep, moist soil 1 ft. apart. Use the acid-tasting leaves when young, before the plant has flowered, in salads. Bring a few crowns into the greenhouse or frame for forcing to maintain a winter supply. The French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) is sometimes cultivated and used to flavour soups.

SOUTHERNWOOD (Artemisia abrotanurri) Leaves

Propagated by seed or cuttings. Grow in any soil, grows to 3 ft. Often found in old gardens and worth including in the herb garden for its fresh scent and green plume-like branches of soft leaves. Used in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent.

SUNFLOWER (Helianthus annum) Leaves and seeds

Sow seeds under glass in March. Plant out in late May 2-1/2 ft. apart and provide stout stakes. Sunflowers form a quick-growing screen and are gross feeders.

The leaves are used as fodder for rabbits, horses and cattle, or, dried, as a herb tobacco. The flower buds are used as a vegetable in the same way as artichokes. Oil is extracted from the seed and used in the manufacture of soap and cattle cake. The seeds are used as food for poultry, or roasted and ground to make sunflower coffee.

TANSY (Tanacetum vulgare) Leaves

Propagate by division. Plant in any soil 1 ft. apart. An old-world plant with coarse, well-divided leaves and an unpleasant smell. It produces yellow button-like flowers in July, and once introduced into the garden spreads rapidly unless checked.

Tansy was formerly used as a pot herb and in tansy cake for Easter, but is now included only in collections and in cottage and old-world gardens. Tansy wine was once used as a tonic, but is too bitter for present-day palates.

TARRAGON (Artemisia dranunculus) Leaves

Propagate by division. Plant in dry, sunny spot 2 ft. apart. Use fresh leaves in bouquet garni and in tarragon vinegar; in sauces such as sauce tartare, and in omelets as fines herbes. Tarragon leaves are some-times added to chutneys and are also dried for winter use.

To make tarragon vinegar, wash the fresh leaves and barely cover them with white wine vinegar in a bowl. Soak them for a fortnight with a cover over the bowl. Strain carefully and bottle.

THYME (Thymus vulgaris) Leaves

Propagate by cuttings. Plant in hot, dry soil 1-½ ft. apart. Use fresh or dried in stuffings for veal, poultry and fish, and in stews and casseroles.

VIOLET, SWEET (Viola odorata) Leaves

Native. Sow seed in pots or boxes in spring under cloches or in a cold frame; plant out at the end of April. Or sow in April where they are to flower as an edging to the herb border and thin to 5 in. apart. They will seed themselves or spread by runners in places where the soil is poor and dry. Cuttings can be taken in summer.

Use fresh as an antiseptic or dried and infused with boiling water to make violet tea. A refreshing and stimulating tonic used for the relief of headaches.

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29. March 2013 by admin
Categories: Herb Garden, Kitchen Garden | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Recommended Herbs for the Herb Garden

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