TEXT ALICE SPENSER-HIGGS PHOTOGRAPHS ANDREA CALDWELL

Try these three themed herb containers recommended by Louis van Aswegen of Healthy Living Herbs

FOR SALADS

  • Purple basil: Add the spicy-sweet leaves for colour or use them in herbal vinegars and salad dressings.
  • Sweet basil: Complements the flavour of tomatoes and sweet peppers; tear the leaves, don’t chop them.
  • Perennial basil: Use the stronger tasting leaves sparingly in winter.
  • Lemon thyme: Strip the leaves off the stems, add to salads; use in salad dressings for a subtle lemon flavour.
  • Golden oregano: Add the leaves for colour and piquancy; also use in dressings.
  • Pineapple mint: Chopped leaves add a fresh taste to salads. Also use spearmint or garden mint.

Try these easy salad recipes. 

Good to know: Encourage tender new leaves by picking regularly. Remove basil flowers (add to the salad) to prevent plants going to seed. Cut back pineapple mint to prevent it overgrowing the other herbs. Sweet basil and purple basil are frost-sensitive annuals that die down and can be pulled out in winter.

READ MORE: Growing herbs in pots

FOR FISH

  • Chives: Harvest leaves by cutting them off at ground level, and snip with kitchen scissors as a mild onion-flavoured garnish.
  • Dill: Pairs very well with trout and salmon; use fresh as a garnish (also with steamed veggies) or in dressings and sauces.
  • Basil: Use in herb butters, sauces and in herb-infused oils and vinegars to flavour fish dishes.
  • Lemon thyme: Use when baking, grilling or braaing fish.
  • Parsley: Use in sauces accompanying fish, or together with dill as a garnish.

Good to know: Chives and dill are indicator plants for aphids, so also use this container to alert you to insect infestations; spray with an organic spray, mild soapy water or let the ladybirds have a feast.

Get delicious fish and seafood recipes here.

FOR MEAT

  • Parsley/Italian parsley: Chop the leaves finely and add at the end of cooking. Italian parsley is tastier and can be cooked for longer. Pick the outer leaves.
  • Oregano: This robust herb is used mainly in Mediterranean meat and pasta dishes, complementing tomatoes and basil.
  • Thyme: Flavour slow-cooked red meat and chicken dishes. Strip leaves off the stem and chop, or add sprigs at the beginning of cooking and remove before serving.
  • Rosemary: Use sprigs to flavour roast chicken and lamb as well as in marinades for grilled or braai meat.
  • Garden mint: Pairs well with beef and lamb, helping to temper the richness of the meat, especially home-made mint sauce.
  • Perennial basil: Use the leaves in winter in chicken and beef dishes.

Use fresh herbs to make grilled steaks with a tangy chimichurri sauce

Good to know: Although their water needs differ, oregano, thyme and rosemary have shallow root systems that occupy the top two-thirds of the container, while parsley and mint, which need more water, send their roots to the bottom where they take up all the water that drains through.

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