Archive for the 'Herbs' Category

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What to Grow in the Shady Bit

I’m asked on a regular basis what to grow in the shady part of a vegetable plot so I thought it was about time I wrote a post on the topic. So here goes.

Firstly, you’re not alone in wondering what the heck to grow in the shady bit of the garden. Most of the vegetable books talk about giving plants an ‘open site’ ‘in full sun’. Which is totally possible on an allotment but is virtually impossible in your own garden at home. There are usually walls, fences, trees, and buildings to contend with making it inevitable that there will always be a ‘shady bit’

Mtp has a shady bit – or if you’re going to get technical, a ‘north facing wall’. It runs down the right hand side. In the morning it’s in full shade, but in the afternoon the sun has moved around and it gets at least a couple of hours of sunshine before the sun drops behind the house.

This is the type of shady bit that is totally usable in a vegetable garden. The type of area that isn’t usable is an area in full shade. There are very few vegetables that will grow in full shade. If you have an area which is in full shade, your best bet is to plant some shade-loving shrubs or flowers – sorry, I know that’s not much fun but it’s the truth.

Now for the cream – what ‘can’ you grow in partial shade? The answer is, tons of stuff. Yey!

Here’s a list of the vegetables that will tolerate shade

  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Calvo Nero
  • Radicchio
  • Chard
  • Spinach Beet
  • Cress
  • Radish
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Bay
  • Lettuce (winter varieties)
  • Mustard Greens
  • Asparagus (although fewer spears will be produced)

And here’s a list of fruit:

  • Alpine Strawberries
  • Autumn Raspberries
  • Plums (Czar etc)
  • Pear (Conference, Emile D’Heyst etc)
  • Morello Cherry
  • Gooseberries
  • Redcurrants
  • Rhubarb
  • Elderflower
  • And Quince (apparently, although I have no experience of this)

You could also think about using your shady space to grow plants to use as Christmas decoration. I grow Yew, Holly and Ivy for that very reason. And of course there are countless flowers you could grow in the shade too. I’m no flower expert but I manage to grow Foxglove and Echinacea without too much drama.

There are also crafty ways that you can get around the shade problem. For example you could sow and grow Runner Beans in the sunny part of your garden, then plant them in the shady part once they have grown big enough to cling to a frame. I tried it last year and it worked a treat. The top half of the Runner Bean teepee is in the sun for long enough during each day to produce lots of nice long pods come summertime.

So there you have it; what to grow on the north-facing side of your garden. Most of these vegetables will, of course, produce more robust plants if grown in full sun. However, if your space is limited and you simply ‘have’ to make use of that shady spot then these are the vegetables to do it with. Good luck.

mtp

Tomato & Basil Soup

I’ve always struggled with growing Basil. I sow my seeds at the alloted time, nurture them through the damp, sometime sunless Spring and then plant them out in the garden. But usually some evil befalls them; being eaten by slugs, keeling over and dying through lack of light or damp, or just failing to thrive because the English summer just isn’t warm enough. This year (I’m guessing because our new garden is sheltered and a couple of degrees warmer than an exposed one) my Basil has done tolerably well – not enough of it to make Pesto, but tolerably well nevertheless. 

I love it when it gets to the just-about-to-flower stage and so I thought I would whip up a a nice summer lunchtime Tomato and Basil soup. Ideal for someone with a summer cold, like me :(

Sadly, none of my Tomatoes are ripe yet so I had to use store-bought for now. I chopped up two of my Shallots, crushed one of my garlic cloves. Chucked in a punnet full of tomatoes (I didn’t de-skin them, is that lazy?) and threw in two good handfuls of my Basil. I like to use the flowers too – just for the hell of it and because you don’t really find Basil that has flowers on it in the supermarket do you? 

One minute on blitz then simmer for 15 mins. Yum!

mtp

Herbs Needed Some Lovin’

It was time to tidy up the herb garden, as it was getting out of control. I trimmed the lavender back, discovered two Thyme bushes underneath a gigantic Parsley triffid and snipped the Sage back into a ball again. I hacked down the Chives too, which I’m not sure is the right thing to do (anyone know?). So the herb garden is looking quite cared for again. I potted up some of the triffid and took it home for the kitchen. Then I composted half of what was left and left a small clump in the ground to see what it can do before the frosts come. I have some mint too which is looking a bit rusty. I think I’ll leave it in and replace it next year. I tend to use the same herbs most of the time; thyme, basil, rosemary, chives, parsley, corriander, sage (sometimes) and bay (as we have a tree at home). Anyone have any ideas on unusual (and useful) herbs I can grow next year? The most exotic thing I use right now is Juniper Berries to make cider gravy with sausage and mash (yum). I have lots of dried stuff at home but you can’t beat that fresh, snipped from the garden smell can you?

mtp

Herb Garden

Yesterday I planted up a small herb garden. A pot-bound lavender and an old rosemary bush from the garden at home found their way to mtp. I expect they’ll be much happier in the open ground rather than stuffed in pots on the (tiny) deck at home. So they went in. Also some small Thyme plants (French and Golden) that I bought at the nursery and a Purple Sage and these Chives. I’m planning to sow Corriander today and some Basil at home. That should keep our kitchen well stocked for the rest of the year. When I was a the garden centre choosing herbs I picked up a Tarragon plant and was debating whether to buy it or not. Then I realised that I never use Tarragon in any of my cooking and would probably never use it! A new mtp rule has been made… ‘only grow what you like to eat’… Sometimes it’s hard when the plants are so pretty just to grow them anyway but it really is pointless.

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