Easy to grow and packed with flavour, herbs make the maximum impact for a small space, not just in meals, but also cocktails
I tried to use herbs in my cooking before I started growing my own in containers. Looking back, I marvel at the frustration this involved. I kept dried mint and rosemary in jars, but when I dug them out of the cupboard they never really seemed to taste of much. My local corner shop sold enormous bunches of coriander and parsley, which always looked like great value when I first got them home. But the bunches were so much larger than I needed that the majority of the leaves ended up turning to slime in the glass I’d plonked them in, in an effort to keep them fresh. Occasionally I’d plan a dish that needed fresh herbs which I could only get in plastic supermarket packets: sage, thyme, tarragon, dill or lemon grass. I’d use half and the rest ended their days at the bottom of the fridge. When they were fresh I loved their flavours, but the expense and the waste left an unpleasant aftertaste.
Growing my own herbs close at hand on my balcony and windowsills transformed my relationship with them. I discovered that they are tailor-made for growing in small spaces: packed with flavour, they made the most of every inch you can give them. Even if you just have one window sill you can grow a good supply of your favourites, and if you have space for a few more pots on a small balcony or patio you could be self sufficient in herbs in spring, summer and autumn – and you’ll even get a few sprigs of rosemary, coriander, bay and parsley in winter, too.