January in NZ signals a few herbs to plant in that home vege patch of yours. You will love these 5 herbs and the foodie goodness it will bring to your meals. And to think, you grew it yourself!
1. Vietnamese mint (Persicaria odorata):
It’s not actually a mint, but it does spread like one (it’ll root anywhere that the stem touches the ground). This exotic herb is such an intrinsic part of the famous Singaporean/Malaysian seafood soup laksa that it is also known as laksa plant. In Vietnamese cuisine, it is not normally cooked but used in salads or eaten as a fresh herb with the popular Vietnamese spring rolls, cha gio. Plant in a sunny spot and keep well watered.
With its mild anise flavour, chervil is often paired with chicken, fish and egg. It loses its flavour once cooked, so add it to dishes at the last moment or use it raw. It’s delicious thrown into salads, omelettes or sprinkled over roast or steamed veges. In hot, dry conditions chervil bolts quickly, so plant it in a cool, shaded spot. Sow every 2-4 weeks for a continuous supply.
Love it or hate it, this pungent (but delicious) herb also likes to be kept cool in the heat of summer otherwise it will bolt quickly. Sow direct in a shady part of the garden, or in pots that are kept out of the midday heat. Americans call coriander cilantro.
4. Garlic chives
In all but the coldest areas, garlic chives will provide leaves for harvesting year round. They have a mild garlic (rather than onion) flavour and their leaves are wide and flat, unlike common chives which are round and hollow. Garlic chives also have a white flower. Sow or plant in full sun and free-draining soil. Keep moist and if excessively hot provide some afternoon shade. Chives germinate best in the dark, so cover your seed patch with black plastic.
5. French tarragon
This variety is far superior in flavour than its cousin, Russian tarragon, so gourmands should seek this variety out. It’s available in some garden centres, but make sure you check the label. If in doubt, check the leaves. Russian tarragon has tiny white hairs which give the plant a matt appearance, while French tarragon has smooth, shiny leaves. As well, French tarragon does not set viable seed, so the tarragon sold in seed packets will be Russian tarragon. Plant in free-draining soil (add sand or grit if necessary) in full sun, but provide afternoon shade in hot areas.