Jekka’s herb farm will be holding it’s end of season perennial plant sale from September 2nd-4th with Free entry for our readers.
It’s harvest time in the herb garden and 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 the 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.
Pruning and potting
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 frost hardy (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; companion plant near carrots to help repel carrot fly; infuse it for an antiseptic tea/mouthwash/gargle – also, allegedly, an excellent cure for a hangover.
Go 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.
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.
We are also please to say that entry to the open days is free to our readers; All you have to do, is print a copy of our article and take it along with you on the day.
Jekka’s Herb Farm specialise in organic, culinary, aromatic, decorative and medicinal herbs. They are 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 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-bookable at www.jekkasherbfarm.com) take place on each Open Day at 12pm and tickets are £15 per person. Dates and details below:
Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th September
Pre-bookable herb workshop – How to maintain your herbs over winter
For more information, visit Jekka’s Herb Farm website.