Herbaceous babes are GO!

Help, it turns out I can grow herbs.

Top L-R: coriander, dill, basil. Bottom L-R: chives, parsley, mint.

I don’t really know how it happened. I’m kidding, of course I know. I bought some herbs and I put them in pots and continued to water them and they’re all doing okay (except for Basil, but he’s got a story). So I guess what I mean to say is, this is unexpected because I’ve never kept herbs alive before. I’ve never kept much alive. I even managed to kill one of those lucky bamboo stalks that a coworker gave me a few years ago. Bamboo’s meant to be really hardy, right? Well, I killed it. I didn’t kill it on purpose, it just happened, because these things always happen to me.

So I’m actually at a bit of a loss with what to do with these herbs now that they’re thriving. I’ve never gotten past the “yay they’re planted I can’t wait until they thrive” stage to the “yay they’re thriving” stage. How do I look after thriving herbs!? Look at that parsley! That parsley is a monster and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it! Do I prune it back? Do I lop that enormous stalk off and re-pot it to make another parsley bush? Does that work? When I prune, do I prune it from the base? How do I identify older leaves vs newer leaves? SEE? THOSE ARE JUST MY QUESTIONS ABOUT PARSLEY, I STILL HAVE FIVE OTHER HERBS!

How it all began.

I didn’t start from seeds, of course. Anyone whose thumbs are on the opposite side of the colour wheel to green isn’t that stupid. I started a little big, particularly with the parsley, but that was the only parsley left and I wanted parsley. It’s a good garnish, I guess? My herb choices can all be classified under the heading “I GUESS?”. No, that’s not entirely true. Here’s what I chose, and why I chose it.

Parsley: good garnish, I guess? (I wasn’t lying about this one)
Mint: COCKTAILS! Ginuary is on the horizon, after all. STAY ALIVE UNTIL JANUARY, MINT!
Coriander: people either love you or hate you and BABY I LOVE YOU
Chives: Good soup topping, I guess?
Dill: Good with fish, right?

Those were literally the thoughts I had concerning those herbs when I bought them. Help. Help me. I can’t eat enough fish for all this dill. I don’t even know what to do with coriander. It smells amazing and tastes good in the Thai takeaway I have always procured but I am such a novice in the kitchen, help me. For the love of herbs, help me. I wasn’t even sure the coriander (I call her Corrie (I actually address my plant by a given name, yes)) was going to survive because the first week or so after I planted them it was very windy, and nowhere outside is safe. It got to the point where everything else seemed to be tolerating it but the coriander was horizontal.



The coriander is a monster. Some of the leaves are starting to look different? I think it’s growing seeds? Coriander seeds are a thing, right? WHO KNEW I COULD GROW CORIANDER THIS WELL? (LOOK AT THAT FREAKING PARSLEY, SERIOUSLY.)

Basil’s story (he comes with a given name!) is that the first basil plant I bought was kinda stalky (you can see it in the second photo group in this post). It continued being stalky, and just kept climbing up and up and then flowered (I’ve since learnt enough to know to pinch those pretties off to keep the plant focused on making tasty leaves). I got frustrated with its stalkiness and so two Sundays ago I bought a shrubbier seedling from the farm gate market and did some repotting. Stalky still exists, but he’s planted into the retaining wall, and I’m trying to encourage my new little friend Basil to take wing. Why is it that the herb I could do the most with is the one that is being so difficult?

I’ve used almost all of the herbs so far, but in very rudimentary ways. I’ve thrown basil and parsley through some pasta dishes, and I’ve used the dill with (you’re never gonna guess) some baked salmon. I’ve occasionally plucked a mint leaf and carried it around and smiled and dreamed of all the uses I’m going to have for it in January. I haven’t used the chives yet because I haven’t made any soup, and that’s the only link my brain has between chives and food. I haven’t used the coriander yet because I just don’t know.

I don’t even know how long these last for. I just googled for the definition of “perennial” because I know that’s a word people use for plants (IT MEANS FOREVER! FOREVER HERBS!). Of course, I paid zero attention to what any of the labels for these herbs said because I guess I expected to have killed them by now. Sorry, herbs.

Shrubby Basil, aka “Sweety Baz”.

Help me, dear readers. Please share with me any ideas, or even specific recipes, for herb uses. Maybe even some suggestions for what herbs I should branch out to next, seeing as I seem to be A HERB-GROWING WIZARD. If you have any killer tips for looking after thriving herbs, those would also be welcomed.

14 thoughts on “Herbaceous babes are GO!

  1. Chives go really well finely chopped (or scissor-snipped) and warmed through in scrambled eggs!

    Dill goes well with EVERYTHING NOM NOM NOM. I love it in courgette-feta-dill fritters.

    Make sure you have the Right Sort of Mint. Apparently there are different sorts. IDK.

    Once you have ALL the basil, you can make it into pesto and freeze it (hint: don’t add any cheese before freezing).

    In fact, you can chop and freeze just about any of these herbs for later use in the Dark Season.

    Except coriander, for it is grosssssss and disgusting.

    • Hahahaha I guess I know what side of the fence you’re on regarding coriander. (Does it actually freeze as well, you hater?)

      I don’t think the basil will get around to being pestoed, because I’ll have already used it all in cocktails and salads and pastas and everything ever because BASIL <3

      And I'm definitely going to look up a recipe for those dill fritters! AWESOME. I had to google to remember what "courgette" was the fancy word for. Fkin' zucchini, mate. (I LOVE ZUCCHINI SO THIS IS WONDERFUL NEWS.)

      ... right sort of mint? Will I die if I ingest this one? It smells amazing... I think I'll take the risk.

  2. Hey Mem,
    You got it right with the basil – you gotta take off the flowers or it will stop making leaves. Eventually it will stop anyway, because basil isn’t a perennial. Also, the more you pick the leaves (within reason), the more herby it will be and the less stalky.
    The coriander is also not-a-perennial and once it seeds you need to either plant the seeds or buy a new plant :(. It really only lasts a few months :(.
    And now we are at the limits of my herbal intelligence! My neighbours applauded my “repotting” the other day until I pointed out that really I was just replacing all the herbs I’d neglected too long… I’m only one or two rounds of replacing herbs ahead of you! X

    • But I want all the basil in the world. Why can’t I have all the basil in the world? Ah well, at least I should get a decent summer out of it if I look after it well enough, yes?

      BOO, CORIANDER. I suppose it must be going to seed now. I’ll inspect it more closely tomorrow once the sun’s back out. Might also inspect doing a cutting of the coriander instead of having the grow the seeds from scratch, seeing as… well… skills.

      Thank you so much for your words of advice! Isn’t it wonderful to have fresh herbs?

  3. So proud! I can give you basil growing tips, at least.

    You’re right about pinching the seeds off. You should also take off some of the leaves every so often so that it bushes out. What you do is look for where you’ve got a couple of new shoots/leaves coming off the sticky bit (technical term) and pinch the stuff above it. It will help the plant become more bushy. Once it is established you can’t really do much harm doing this, so get right into it!

    It should also help your sticky basil get bushy into the future.

    • Yessssss! Natalie was the one who first told me about pinching the flowers off, PERKINS BASIL TEAM ARE GO! And I’ve been hesitantly pinching some leaves here and there from both sweety and sticky plants already (because basil) so fingers crossed I get a decent summer out of them! Whee! Thanks Nick.

  4. You’re doing great! Your parsley is going to seed, which is not so great because once it’s seeded it will die down, because parsley isn’t a perennial, but next time, just trim off the big stalk when it starts growing. If you have heaps, you might think about making tabbouleh with it, which is delish.

    Coriander seeds are indeed a Thing. Save them in a tightly closed jar or airtight container and you can use them in a bunch of different Asian dishes. If you’re looking at recipes, just be aware in American ones it’ll be called cilantro. You can also make pesto with it, toss it through some noodles and stir-fried veges and admire your mad kitchen skillz.

    One thing you might like to consider with your basil, as it’s an annual also, is choosing a perennial basil like Greek Basil when you eventually replace it. It makes a really good pesto too. Slightly different taste to the sweet basil though.

    Mint is fabulous. Cut a couple of small leaves and throw them in a cold drink like lemon, lime & bitters, lime cordial, nam manao or similar. Make mojitos.

    Chives are very useful in tons of different dishes, just use them whenever you want an oniony flavour, so pasta sauces, gravies, scrambled eggs, bolognese are all good.

  5. PS. It looks like your mint is either spearmint or peppermint, either of which are super-nice. Chew a leaf and taste for yourself.

  6. I’ve just realised that I’ll be in visiting mode for the tail end of Ginuary, excellent!!! Also I usually try and make a big batch of basil pesto every year, you just need pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil and basil leaves.. (Obvs) You can use the coriander in this one as well, it’s also tasty… Also since it’s cold there, I HIGHLY recommend minted peas. Peas with mint are just DELICIOUS.


  7. Mint loves a buttload of water. Do you have a dripping tap? Put the mint pot under that. Basil likes quite a bit of sun. If you want to grow thyme or rosemary (my top two, personally) you also need to plant them in basically full sun if you can. I have never managed to make coriander thrive so good job it’s a tough one to grow. I think it knows I fucking hate its disgusting dishwater flavour so it fails on purpose. No idea why I grew it actually… the challenge? Idk

  8. This is the first dill idea that came to mind: Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie.
    So delish if you’re into chicken pot pie. And you can be even lazier by just buying croissants to eat with it instead of making the puff pastry slivers they mention in the recipe. (I have found that a little cornstarch doesn’t hurt to thicken that sauce up.)

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