Gardening, said a mate, is just like John Lewis, something you really only appreciate when you reach 40. Gardeners know just how fabulous it feels to grow flowers and veg from seed, it teaches us patience and an afternoon spent in my garden is better than therapy.
January is an important month for gardeners as no sooner has the New Year been and gone when the seed catalogues plop through the letter box to remind us that hope springs eternal. Gardening, much like fashion assumes that every new season brings with it the thought that this season will be better than the last, with better growth and an even more beautiful display than last year, be it cloth or turf.
Everyone has a small space to grow basil Genovese or chives or some cut and come again lettuce. Any crappy old container, surplus Christmas dish or old flower pot can be transformed into a lush harbinger of overflowing foliage, rich in scent and purpose as it’s heady perfume intoxicates the kitchen. Nothing beats kitchen one-upmanship like “This old pesto sauce? why I grew the basil myself!”.
One of our favourite seed suppliers is Seeds of Italy, which keeps winning awards for the quality of its seeds and the Women’s Room loves the authentic Italian connection. We also love it because the seed packets are large and jammed with seeds, unlike the miserly head-count from some (nameless) seed manufacturers. Available on line through a great website that will have you wanting to retrain as a market gardener or chef (there's a cookery book too but we all know we don't need any more of those) or through a comforting catalogue, where you can turn down pages and plan your vision.
After years of eliminating the difficult stuff, the Women’s Room grows the following herbs with success;
Basil classic Genovese– easy peasy and SO much cheaper than buying it from the supermarket. Keep out the light when germinating for quicker growth.
Rocket wild and cultivated– the wild rocket lives happily like a weed in the flower beds and self seeds, the cultivated is better in pots. Both easy.
Chervil- pretty leaves and develops lovely cow-parsley like flowers if you forget to eat it. Very useful for salads.
Spinach- everyone can grow spinach. Looks very pretty in pots.
Mixed cutting lettuce – all garden centres and seed specialists do an assortment, put into shallow, wide pots and you can treat them like herbs.