The most refreshing summer herbs can be grown both on the terrace and in the ground, since they can easily adapt to pots, planters or any part of your garden. You can always have them at hand, as they are outdoor plants that can also be grown in the kitchen, provided they get plenty of light. Here are a few basic tips on the 5 easiest herbs to grow for your summer dishes. You will find out about their basic care, how to propagate them and to extend their production. Follow these tips to be able to infuse your summer recipes with flavour and freshness.
Basil, the king of summer
Who doesn’t love a good pesto or a simple Caprese salad with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil? Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an annual plant, which means that it will die when the colder temperatures arrive and you will need to replant it the following spring. During the spring and summer, we will be able to enjoy its aromatic and scented leaves in a lot of different dishes.
We recommend that you cut the flowers when these start to appear, in order to lengthen the life of the plant. Always cut them below the first pair of leaves from which the inflorescences are growing.
- Sowing: In the spring: spread some seeds on the ground, without sinking them too deep into it. Cover them lightly with a bit of soil and water. They will sprout in a few days.
- Transplanting: It is not necessary to transplant basil unless you used seed trays initially. If you have bought a pot with many plants in it, divide the root ball into 3 or 4 different parts, and transplant them separately. Each one of the small stems will grow into a single plant, and if there are too many in the pot, they won’t be able to grow and develop.
- Location: Place it in a spot where it gets plenty of light, even direct sunlight, for a few hours every day. At the height of summer it will be thankful for some shade during the hottest time of the day.
- Watering: keep the soil moist, without flooding it. If the plant needs more water, you will notice right away, as its leaves will start to look weak and droopy.
Mint and spearmint, two of the most refreshing herbs
You can easily grow new mint and spearmint plants, just by putting a cutting in water. In less than a week the roots will start to grow and you will be able to transplant them wherever you want.
Even though they both belong to the mint family, the aroma of Peppermint (Mentha spicata) is different from that of Mint (Mentha piperita). Still, they are both equally refreshing. Make no mistake: peppermint is the one used in mojitos, while mint is perfect for cold infusions, green juices and various recipes (yogurt-based sauces, cold salads, etc.).
- Sowing: In the spring: their seeds are tiny, like dust, so they should not be buried. Spread them out on the ground and then water with a garden spray bottle.
- Transplanting: Both mint and spearmint are very invasive plants, and they live for several years, sometimes losing their leaves in the winter. They grow underground stolons, which can sometimes reach quite far away from the mother plant, so it is recommended that you grow them in pots, planters, or in spaces enclosed by rockery.
- Location: They love the sun, yet they will enjoy some shade during the hottest hours of the day.
- Watering: Keep the soil moist, paying particular attention to the plant’s leaves. If they need watering, you will notice that the leaves start to droop.
Flat-leaf or giant parsley are more aromatic herbs than the curly-leaf variety (Petroselinum sativum var. crispum).
Parsley (Petroselinum sativum var. latifolium) is a key herb to a lot of British cuisine. A parsley and garlic mash is an essential ingredient in a lot of cold recipes, stews, and a whole lot of other dishes.
- Sowing: Of all the herbs that we are covering in this article, parsley is the one that takes the longest to germinate, sometimes up to 4 weeks. Spread the seeds on the ground, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and water. Don’t forget about them: keep the soil moist until they begin to sprout.
- Transplanting: In the ground or to a pot, leaving a separation of about 10 cm between plants.
- Location: Partial sun or semi-shade.
- Watering: Every two or three days in the summer, although it will always depend on the amount of sunshine it gets, as well as the size of the pot. If it is small and the plant has grown a lot, it may need daily watering due to the large number of leaves that it develops.
The coriander plant is very versatile, as all its part can be used in the kitchen: the leaves, the seeds and in some recipes, even the roots.
The taste of Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is certainly a matter of controversy: you either hate it or you love it. Yet it is an essential ingredient of the refreshing guacamole, as well as of a many other Portuguese, Latin American and Asian recipes, both for its leaves and for its seeds.
- Sowing: In the spring or autumn, just barely burying the seeds, less than 1 cm into the soil.
- Transplanting: To pots, planters or directly in the ground, with a separation of 10-15 cm between plants.
- Location: Sun or partial shade, avoiding direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
- Watering: Keep the soil moist.
Seed discs are very practical, you just have to place them on the ground, cover them lightly with soil, and water them. When they begin to sprout, all you need to do is separate the seedlings, or eliminate some of them so that each of the remaining ones has space to grow.
(As usual) I will end with a tip learned from personal experience: it is a good idea to grow herbs in pots or planters that can be moved around as the weather changes from spring to summer. Mint, for example, can grow very well in full sunlight in the spring, yet in that same spot get scorched during the summer, no matter how much we water it.