For the keen gardeners amongst us, winter doesn’t mean just shutting up the garden and waiting until Spring. Whilst the flowers might not be active and blooming, some herbs do a little better in the colder weather.
Some naturally die down in the autumn and lay dormant, however it is possible to delay or prevent this very easily. Simply cover the herbs with cloches or cold frames. Under protection, many will continue to grow and re-sprout. You can therefore grow a number of herbs to help keep you bright eyed and bushy tailed during the cold, dark winter months. Here’s a couple you can use throughout the winter along with a recipe or two:
An affordable herb to grow, rosemary is a perennial evergreen that will bloom throughout the year and is hardy up to temperatures of around -12°C. As well as famous for cooking with hearty meats, stews and vegetables, rosemary has also been used to treat many ailments, such as depression, rheumatic pains and indigestion. We’ve highlighted it because the plant stimulates blood circulation and is therefore ideal for colds, flu and exhaustion, making it an essential herb for the winter months!
Here’s a quick infusion to brew up when you’re feeling a little low or run down:
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of herbs, cover and infuse for 10 minutes. Take up to 4 times daily or when needed.
A tough and resilient herb, mint continues to grow whatever the British weather. It often needs its own planter as it can become invasive and take over – however, that is how it grows best: as a wild plant. Controlling the available space is often advised. Crammed full of vitamin C and iron, mint is known for relieving nasal and sinus congestion. So when your feeling a little stuffy, add 1-2 teaspoons of dried mint to one cup of boiling water. Take up to 3 times daily.
Like mint, parsley is a hardy herb that will even grow through snow. Whatever you do, don’t throw away the stems when harvesting; they are more potent than the leaf, offering intense flavour and a crunchier texture. Although parsley is actually the worlds most popular herb, it is little known that parsley offers such a wide range of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which are particularly effective at strengthening the immune system. Highly nutritious, parsley has high amounts of vitamin A, C, K, folate and niacin, each of which act on different aspects of the bodies immunity.
So next time you see a sprig of parsley on your plate, give this nutritional powerhouse a nibble and take in all those healthy vitamins. I bet you didn’t know it is actually a palate refresher too, leaving you ready for your next course.
If kept in full sunlight, Coriander can struggle, so ensure it is planted in a spot that offers some shade throughout the day. For this reason, it can be helpful if planted in pots and then you have the option to move them if necessary. To harvest, regularly pick the mature leaves to delay the plant from flowering. Once flowered, the leaves are no longer usable and only the seeds are palatable.
Coriander is packed with potential health benefits which most people completely miss when they throw their garnish away after eating their meal. With eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids, minerals and vitamins, coriander is full of antioxidants, so ideal for those post-Christmas food binges!
For a super healthy, cracking carrot and coriander soup, follow these instructions.
Heat one tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, fry a roughly chopped onion, 600g of thickly sliced carrot and 2 tsp of ground coriander for 5 minutes. Add 1L of vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Add in about 35g of fresh chopped coriander and puree. Serve piping hot and garnished with croutons.
Herbs are relatively low maintenance unless they are grown in containers, where they will need feeding , watering and potentially re-potting after a few years. Trim your herbs in the spring to encourage a new flush of healthy leaves, ready for another years harvesting. As some of the easiest plants to grow, why not give herb growing a go?