I planted the first herbs of the season three weeks ago. We’ve had a couple of frosts since then, but as I was careful enough to wait the the fragile plants such as basil and flat-leaf parsley, everything’s still alive and already providing us with cooking ingredients.
I love the taste and texture of flat-leaf parsley ten times more than the one with curly leafs. The latter is called gas-station parsley in our household, because for decades, it was the only ‘vegetable’ you would find at the cafeteria of a Finnish gas station.
It was the only green ingredient sitting on top of Carelian pies and such, and looking unbelievably alive in a sea of beige foods, like it could survive weeks in the counter.
The reason curly-leaf parsley lives in my garden is exactly the same as the reason it was used at the gas station: the robustness of the plant. I use it to make pesto or salsa verde late in the fall, when basil and flat-leaf parsley are long gone.
Besides parsley, you’ll always find chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and lots of mint in my herb garden, sometimes chervil, lovage, tarragon, dill. We also use plenty of basil in Italy but I find it is too moody to enjoy the somewhat moody Helsinki weather so I do not bother growing basil here.
A friend asked for growing tips; she wanted to start a tiny kitchen garden that would not be too overwhelming. My two tips for anyone who wants to grow food is to start with varieties that grow naturally well in your climate conditions, and focus on plants that are least available in the market.
If you eat a lot of herbs and salads, those are a fantastic starting point. They grow quickly and you can harvest them throughout their growing season. While you can find superb potatoes or strawberries in a store, those tender greens are usually missing. Plus, it gives such a joy to have a little something from you own garden on your plate every day.