South African Garden and Home - - Patio Herbs -

This win­dow-box-sized con­tainer dou­bles as an ed­i­ble cen­tre­piece. In­vite your guests to snip off the f low­ers and leaves and gar­nish their own salad, dec­o­rate their dessert or sim­ply pop a sprig into a drink.

Nas­tur­tium ‘Alaska’ (1) has cream, yel­low, or­ange or red f low­ers with var­ie­gated leaves. Both the ed­i­ble leaves and f low­ers have a pep­pery f lavour.

Mint ‘Julep’ (2) has sweetly scented leaves and a fresh flavour that makes it ideal for desserts and fruit punches. Cut it back of­ten to re­strict its growth.

‘Dark Lady’ basil (3) is com­pact

(30cm high), dis­ease re­sis­tant and tasty. It will over­win­ter well, if kept in a shel­tered po­si­tion.

‘French’ thyme (4) is one of the best culi­nary va­ri­eties. Use it in vine­gars and but­ters. It is low grow­ing and bushy with nar­row grey leaves and tiny ed­i­ble white f low­ers.

‘Coun­try Cream’ oregano (5) is ideal for a table­top con­tainer be­cause it’s not as vig­or­ous as stan­dard oregano. Its growth is low and spread­ing and its green and cream leaves al­ways look pretty.

Grow­ing tips: For healthy f low­ers and fo­liage, fer­tilise once ev­ery two weeks with a liq­uid fer­tiliser at half strength. Keep the soil moist but don’t over­wa­ter. Press your finger into the soil and if it’s moist, de­lay wa­ter­ing by a day.

In the kitchen: Make herb vine­gar us­ing Basil ‘Dark Lady’. Use 200g fresh leaves and f low­ers, lightly bruised with a rolling pin. Put in a ster­ilised jar then pour in 750ml good qual­ity grape, wine, or ap­ple cider vine­gar. Seal and shake well. Keep in a cool dark place for two to three weeks, shak­ing the jar from time to time for the f lavours to de­velop. Strain through muslin or a fil­ter into ster­ilised bot­tles. Add a f low­er­ing sprig, seal and la­bel. Use the vine­gar in salad dress­ings or when cook­ing.

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