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It's hard to find fault with basil!

Byline: Graham Porter

Successional sowing of any quick growing and maturing vegetables can help to fill up empty ground on the allotment and provide you with lots more productivity per square metre than you might ever hope for and - in the world of fresh herbs for cooking and adding to salads - it is no different.

It has the added advantage that you can also grow some these on a windowsill, in a porch, in a glasshouse or in a conservatory for almost nine months of the year with nothing more than a plant pot, a small handful of compost and a packet of seed - it could not be simpler.

The selection of annually grown herbs is a lot wider than we might consider, most of us focusing our minds on basil (Ocimum basilicum) and coriander (Coriandrum sativum) as the popular two. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is often put into the annual (A) category, because it is best grown on an annual cycle, even though it actually is a biennial (B). Replacing it with a fresh pot full every six weeks or so will keep young foliage coming along.

There are many other herbs, grown as annuals, that we can use - Chervil (B) (Anthriscus cerefolium), Caraway (B) (Carum carvi) and Purslane (A) (Portulaca oleracea), Good King Henry (A) (Chenopodium bonus-henricus), Orach (A) (Atriplex hortensis and A. h. rubra), Borage (A) (Borago officinalis), Mustard (A) (Brassica nigra and B. juncea), Pot Marigold (A) (Calendula officinalis), Shepherd's Purse (A) (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Cumin (A) (Cuminum cyminum), Rocket (A) Eruca vesicaria), Buckwheat (A) (Fagopyrum esculentum), Cleavers (A) (Galium aparine), Sunflower(A) (Helianthus annus), Cress (A) (Lepidium sativum), Flax (A) (Linum usitatissimum), Evening Primrose (B) (Oenothera biennis), Poppies, (A) (Papaver rhoeas and P.

somniferum), Beefsteak Plant (A) (Perilla frutescens), Aniseed(A) (Pimpinella anisum and P. saxifraga), Mignonette (A) (Reseda odorata), Summer Savory (A) (Satureja hortensis), Marigolds (A) (Tagetes minuta and T. patula), Garden Nasturtium (A), (Tropaeolum majus) and finally Heartsease (A, B) (Viola tricolour).

I cannot believe the list myself, but why not try a few and see how you get on. As you might expect, not all parts of all of these herbs are normally used for medicinal or culinary purposes and you should check before you use them - the RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs is one of the best reference books but, if you have access to the internet, searching by the plant's scientific name usually brings up all the required details.

You will find that you can use seeds and flowers as well as the foliage in many of them and some will have the added advantage that they can add colour and interest to your garden.

There are one or two strange ones in the list that are actually garden weeds, namely Shepherd's Purse and Cleavers so you may have enough of them without sowing some more! To source some of these more unusual 'annual' herbs why not visit or call 01229 581137 - ask for a catalogue and be amazed.

In the May article in this series I will be looking at some of our more shrubby herbs such as rosemary,sage, lavender and thyme to see how we can make the best use of these sometimes short-lived plants.

I look forward to hearing from you about your favourite herbs and how you use them in your home.

Write to me at Graham's Garden Herbs, Features Office, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Queen Street South, Huddersfield, HD1 3DU..


EASY GROWER: The selection of annually grown herbs is a lot wider than we might consider, such as basil (above)
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2009
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