Lovage is a very vigorous, hardy plant, whose leaves can be harvested to give flavouring to soups or casseroles, or used raw for salads while young .The seeds are used in baking. Lovage has a taste reminiscent of celery. Sow seed indoors in spring, then transplant out of doors in early summer into moist, rich soil. Alternatively divide in early spring or take stem cuttings in the summer. Lovage is happy growing in sun or light shade.
Flavoursome lovage: This unusual hardy perennial has a strong flavour, similar to celery. Lovage grows best in partial shade or sun in well-drained soil and spreads to form large clumps. Top-dress with well-rotted compost in autumn.
Architectural angelica: This giant herb is a biennial and grows to several metres. The stems of second-year plants are used in confectionery and baking. Macerate a few pieces of angelica in white wine to make a delicious aromatic wine cup, or use it to flavour cakes and cooked fruit. Angelica produces huge amounts of seed, which will self-seed copiously if you leave it all on the plant.
- Once angelica has set seed, the plant dies and you need to remove old plants. You can hoe off any unwanted plants in spring, leaving a few to develop.
Horseradish - strong sensations guaranteed: Horseradish is a perennial plant that produces large, elongated leaves and a head of white flowers in summer. The plant is grown for its white roots, high in vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
- The variegated form of horseradish is particularly decorative. Horseradish spreads from root cuttings, so when you dig it out, take care not to leave behind pieces of root.
Old-fashioned horseradish fungicide: Gardeners used to steep chopped horseradish leaves in water, then filter the liquid and use it to spray fruit trees for the brown rot that attacks them. It was thought that if it was caught early enough, this spray would help to combat the fungus.
Top tips for mint: There are many species and varieties of mint. Low-growing types, such as Corsican mint, are best grown as ground cover rather than for culinary uses. Here are a few of the most popular and best-known varieties.
- Spearmint : A mild flavoured mint, this is used to flavour cucumber, yoghurt and tabbouleh, and to make mint tea.
- Peppermint or black peppermint: More strongly flavoured than other varieties, peppermint is used to make infusions.
- Eau-de-cologne mint: A mint with green, purple-veined foliage, it is highly prized for culinary use.
- Pennyroyol mint: This strongly scented wild mint has medicinal properties.
- Bowles mint: This is the best mint for making a strong-flavoured mint sauce.
Keep mint in check: Mint is well known for its vigorous, invasive habit, spreading by means of creeping underground stems. To prevent it from taking over completely, plant it in a large planter with drainage holes - if the planter does not have drainage holes the mint will become waterlogged and rot. Sink the planter into the ground so that its rim is just above the surface of the soil. Check the rim of the pot from time to time and cut off any escaping runners.
·Deterring flies: A sprig or two of mint in a glass of water is said to be a good way to keep flies out of a room. You will find that the mint roots very quickly in water and in no time you will have extra plants to give to your friends.
True and false camomile: Camomile is an evergreen perennial herb. Apart from the common or Roman camomile used as sweet-smelling lawns, there is German camomile, which has medicinal properties. Feverfew is also regarded as a camomile, and it is said to be effective in treating migraines and headaches. It has pale green, sometimes golden, foliage and lots of tiny white flower heads with yellow centres. It also has a strongly aromatic foliage and its flowers are thought to be beneficial in deterring insect pests from invading other garden plants.
Some herb seeds need light to germinate. Basil, savory and sorrel are among the herbs that need to be sown on the soil or compost surface so that the light can reach them. Before sowing, water the compost or soil, then sow seeds onto the surface. Cover with a light sprinkling of vermiculite, and if seeds are in planters or seed trays, place in a sunny position. They will germinate much quicker with this method.
The bright orange flowers of the marigold last throughout the summer. The flowers have long been harvested for medicinal purposes and the petals can be used as a colouring as well as a flavouring in many dishes, besides being eaten raw in salads. The leaves can also be eaten, shredded and added to salads while still young and tender. Grow marigolds from seed sown in early spring or autumn. Once established, they will self seed freely.
Lemon balm is a vigorous, hardy plant, perfect for a sunny border among the flowers as well as in the kitchen garden. Use the sweet, lemon scented leaves to make tea, which will soothe headaches, or else in salads and as a flavouring in cooking. Lemon balm leaves also have a soothing effect when they are rubbed on insect stings. Grow lemon balm from seed sown in the spring or else propagate by division in the autumn.