What weather! I think we all have experienced some extremes this year – here it was a very long and cold, snowy winter, then we had unusually cold spring temperatures, followed by floods, then a scorching heatwave, and drought…
And yet the herbs have mostly done well.
The Herb Awards 2013
(Drum roll please!)
Ocimum basilicum otherwise known as Basil
It loves the heat, and if kept on the covered balcony and harvested regularly it will keep going until the end of August… maybe longer if I’m lucky. Here are the types I grew this year….
Ocimum basilicum “Chianti” (a dark opal basil, with purple leaves). This sort is not as heat resistant as the Genovese basil, and the leaves are slightly thicker and more fibrous. The aroma is excellent though.
Ocimum × citriodorum (Lemon Basil) has a light citrus flavour and is delicious in iced mineral water or in salads. It doesn’t grow as vigorously as the Genovese basil, nor as tall. But it stands up to heat and dry conditions very well.
Ocimum basilicum “Neapolitan” is a very large-leafed basil, with a fine aniseed-like aroma. The leaves are pale green, and slightly crinkled. It loves the heat! Its flavour is not as intense as that of Genovese, which makes it perfect for garnishes or salads. (I can see on this photo it’s been nibbled by something!)
Ocimum basilicum “Genovese” is the traditional large-leafed basil that is usually on sale here. The best for pesto, as its leaves are very aromatic and not at all fibrous. It can withstand quite a bit of heat and dry conditions too. Like all basil, it hates being rained on or being watered from above, so the ideal position would be a south-facing porch, window-sill or balcony. Another tip: don’t cover basil seed when you sow it, as this will stop or delay germination, but make sure it is kept moist and warm.
Sage, Mint (as always!), Chervil, Estragon (Tarragon), Thyme and Lemon Thyme, Garden Burnet (Sanguisorba minor – Pimpernell), Oregano, Savory, Lemon Balm, and Rocket; it seems these are all pretty robust and can be trusted even in the toughest of conditions. I have used most of these in salads and tomato sauces.
Lemon Verbena, Chives, and Borage – I think the low night-time temperatures and damp in May were mostly to blame, but these all recovered in July. The chives went sort of “rusty” in the damp weather. Has anyone ever seen that before? I cut them right down and they also bounced back within a week or two.
The Booby Prize goes to:
The parsley hated being waterlogged and then baked in the spring, but I made the mistake of buying plug plants – useless! Then the slugs and snails discovered a new plant I put in… A couple of other plants in pots with copper tape around them are also not happy. I have no idea why! Any tips are welcome!
What herbs have done well or poorly this summer in your garden?
And what on earth can I use Estragon for???
A lovely herby recipe coming up soon! 😉