The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My favourite herbs

I had a very enthusiastic response to my suggestion that I might blog more about gardening, so although I felt a bit overwhelmed at the idea initially I've been taking photos and have decided to just tackle one little subject at a time. That's obvious really isn't it?!

So, I though I'd start with a few herbs. These are the ones (that I took photos of) that are currently growing away at the allotment.

Lovage has a strong celery-like flavor and is wonderful in soups and stews and chopped up with other herbs in an omlette. It tends to end up growing huge and flowering, and is best cut down to the ground to get some fresh growth during the growing season. I now have two plants so that I can cut one down hard and still have greens from the other one. I also freeze it for the winter. I simply chop it up small and freeze it on a tray, then when it's frozen pour it into a tub so that it comes out loose. It is possible to dig it up and split the roots in the winter, but it has a big tap root and will often sulk a little after being transplanted, and will often take a season to recover fully.

 Sorrel belongs to the dock family and is related to wild sorrel, which can also be eaten and has a stronger flavour. I use sorrel in stews (actually I use all my herbs in stews, so that might get a bit boring!), but it also adds a bit of zing chopped up and cooked with spinach or chard. There's also a wonderful sorrel soup recipe, which I could look out, but basically is fried onion, potatoe, nettles (or spinach) all cooked up with a load of stock and then a handful of chopped sorrel added 5 minutes before the end. It's a wonderful budget meal as it's mainly potatoes and onions. Sorrel can be dug up and split in the winter and any bits of root left behind will often grow. Split it and give some to your friends every few years, good for the plant and good for your soul...
 Marjoram is possibly my favourite all time herb. It's great in stews (!) and when I used to be mainly vegetarian it was particularly useful for adding a good meaty flavor to vegetables and pulses. It's also wonderful in omlettes. My favourite omlette is just an egg or two and a big handful of fresh chopped herbs. I love the golden marjoram because it's so bright and cheerful in the spring. I have been told the flavour isn't as strong as the green marjoram, but it grows so vigorously I think I can just cut more of it.  If allowed to flower it's always covered in bees and butterflies. I cut great handfuls of it in the summer and dry it for use in the winter. In fact that reminds me I need to go and cut some if it ever stops raining.
Golden marjoram
The only other photo of something herb-like, which isn't a herb, at all are these radish. I sowed them in the autumn as winter radish but most of them didn't get big enough to be worth eating. If radish are left to flower and set seed they produce small pods which are lovely and crunchy in salads if picked green. I'm leaving these to flower to see how many pods they produce.
Other herbs that I can think of that I have at my allotment are garlic chives, horseradish, chives and fennel. I'll do another blog about them. I've also got lots of seedlings coming up...
Anyone got any particular subjects they'd like? It's such a big subject I don't know where to start, I suppose just what comes to mind really?

I've got a Facebook bookbinding page where I tend to do more regular booky updates if anyone's interested ...


  1. I love my herbs - they are the only real bit of gardening I do, Himself does the rest. I LOVE lovage, and am always giving chunks of it away. Sorrel - now I don't like this cooked, it goes all grey, but we have it all the time in salads, with it's fresh lemony taste it really perks them up.

    Perhaps you could just include, maybe once a month in with your usual posts, a para on whats' been happenin' in the garden - you don't want tpo feel it's a chore or you'll end up not wanting to write about it! Lx

  2. Good to read some herb tips. I always say I'm not a fan of herbs but I'm now thinking it's just the Mediterranean ones I'm not keen on (in England, that is - I love them in the Med). And I like the sound of herbs (marjoram) adding a meaty flavour to veg dishes.
    I wanted to ask you about your Swiss chard in a previous post. I grow mine every year but, seeing yours so far advanced, I wondered if it was a perennial.