It’s harvest time in the herb garden. August and September are months of abundance, with plentiful supplies to use fresh from the garden. It’s also the ideal time to prepare herbs for the winter months, not only to give a continuous supply of leaf, but also to give hardy perennials their very best chance of surviving the vagaries of winter.
Jekka has been busy sorting and cutting back our 30 different mint species (including Chocolate Peppermint with its ‘After Eight’ flavour, and variegated Pineapple mint, delicious and pretty in a fruit salad) to give a final winter crop. Mint cuttings can be put to excellent use in a fresh mint sauce, pea and mint soup, a jug of Pimms or a refreshing cup of mint tea.
Jekka has also been pruning and re-potting her rather large rosemary collection – now a staggering 30 different varieties. To Jekka’s keen eye, it isn’t difficult to distinguish R. Foxtail which has a bushy, prostrate habit (not unlike a fox’s tail) from a R. Prostrate, also, unsurprisingly, prostrate but minus the bushiness. Or R. ‘Lady in White’ from R. ‘White’ – naturally, both are notable for their white flowers, but the Lady is arching whilst the commoner is prostrate (draw your own conclusion). Cultivars such as R. Sissinghurst Blue and R. Sudbury Blue have significantly different minimum temperature requirements. Sissinghurst is frosthardy (down to -50C) , whilst Sudbury is fully hardy (down to -150C).Taste and flavour are important distinguishing factors too; for something completely different, try R. Green Ginger, which adds a mildly oriental taste to your roast lamb or barbequed fish. Other factors include the shade and shape of the rosemary’s thin needles: some are light green, some are dark, some are fatter whilst some are more pine-needle like in appearance.
Overridingly, Rosmarinus officinalis is amongst the most useful plants you can grow in the garden. It is evergreen, so can be harvested all year round; an appetite stimulant, the leaves have antibacterial and antioxidant properties; combine with meat, casseroles, soups and sauces, fish, rice, cordials vinegars etc; even the flower is edible, with a sweet taste, delicious with cooked vegetables; the leaves can be roasted at high temperatures without disintegrating; plant it companiably near carrots to help repel carrot fly; infuse it for an antiseptic tea/mouthwash/gargle – also, allegedly, an excellent cure for a hangover.
Come along, see for yourself and pick up some expert growing tips too at Jekka’s final Open Days of the season, from 2nd – 4th September, when she’ll be holding her end-of-season plant sale, including organically grown rosemary species; rare, tropical and wildflower herb varieties; essential herbs for foodies, such as Lemon Verbena, French Tarragon and Chilean Guava; dye plants Woad and Wormwood; medicinal powerhouses Arnica and Lemon Balm; aromatics like Balm of Gilead and Cat Thyme. We’ll also have a super selection of our beautiful specimen herb plants on sale at very reasonable prices.
The farm will be open to the public from 10am – 4pm. Entry is free on Friday 2nd September and charged at £2.00 per person on Saturday and Sunday, although catalogue holders, members of the RHS, the West of England Herb Group and the Soil Association also receive free entry on all days for two people.
Jekka’s Herb Farm is usually closed to the public, so Open Days are a unique opportunity to browse and buy, breathe in and taste the scents and flavours of our 650+, organically grown herb varieties. Pick up some expert tips from award-winning, organic herb farmer, writer and broadcaster, Jekka, and partake of locally grown, seasonal refreshments in the ‘Berry Blue’ café. Herb workshops with Jekka (pre-booking is essential) take place on each Open Day at 12pm and tickets are £15 per person.
We very much look forward to welcoming you to the farm (and a bit of self indulgence, sharing our knowledge and passion for herbs with you)!