Hello from the Garden (1 of 2)

Have you ever bought a pot of Basil to make Mrs. Gallagher’s delicious spaghetti bolognaise, and by the time you get around to using it, it’s gone over and you have to throw it out. Well, today we’re going to look at how to get the most out of some of the potted herbs that we buy.

So firstly what is a herb?

Well, a herb is a plant that is usually highly scented and is used to add flavour to food. It’s also used in medicine and in cosmetics.

Some herbs you may remember using in Home Economics are parsley, chives, basil, rosemary and mint. The two herbs we’re going to look at today are basil and mint.

Basil is one of my favorite herbs, and if I didn’t use in food, I’d still have it in the kitchen for its amazing scent. Just rub a couple of leaves between your fingers and breathe it in to lift your spirits. It’s a real feel-good herb. It’s used a lot in tomato dishes, so this time of year it comes into its own.

Getting started: you will need a knife, 4 pots and some compost.

Often, when you buy a plant, it’s pot bound ie the roots have filled the pot and used up all the food, so the plant starts to struggle after a few days. Turn the pot over and see if the roots are coming through. If this is the case, you are ready to divide the plant.
To remove, hold the plant with one hand and turn it upside down. With the other hand, give the pot a wee squeeze, and the plant should slide out. If it won’t slide out easily, cut some of the roots at the bottom that are growing outside the pot.
Now place the plant on its side and using a sharp knife (ask an adult to help), cut through the roots cleanly.
And then cut each half again so you now have four plants
Loosen the roots
Half fill a pot with compost, pop in your plant and then top up with compost.
At this stage it’s a good idea to harvest some leaves to bush out the plant. So either cut or nip using the nails of your thumb and first finger just above a pair of leaves.
This encourages the side shoots to grow and bush out (a bit like cutting hair really). You can freeze the leaves if you don’t have use for them straightaway.
And of course don’t forget to water. As basil is a tender plant, keep it inside on a sunny windowsill . When it outgrows the pot, repeat the process, and you’ll have basil for several weeks.