June Newsletter 2008

Hello and welcome to the June newsletter.

With all the rain and sunshine we’ve had over the last few weeks, all your herbs should be luscious, assuming, of course, they have managed to grow away from the slugs, of which there seems to be plenty.

Last year we put up a new tunnel which was divided in half by a plastic sheet. The plan was to put an automatic misting system above heated benches for our cuttings on one side and use heated benches on the other side for our basils. This is because we simply hadn’t enough bench space for the amount of basils we needed to grow, bearing in mind they need to be kept warm, as our current system for looking after cuttings is very labour intensive and involves a lot of misting by hand. Anyway, the tables duly arrived in April and Zsuzsa, Jade, Liza and I spent the day constructing them - it might have been a tad quicker if I’d calculated accurately where the legs went!. Then me and Zsu spent some time leveling them. We completely ran out of time to organize the cuttings side but the basils are now happily ensconced in their new home. It has been lovely not having to juggle space and, consequently, never having quite enough room for all the varieties. The types we currently grow are: sweet Genovese, lemon, lime, Thai, African blue, Greek, cinnamon and purple.

Basil Tunnel

This year we have grown a bit of Holy basil ocimum sanctum. This is a soft, hairy basil with a spicy pungent aroma. In India it is regarded as one of the most sacred plants, after the lotus, and is grown around temples and homes for its protective influence. We haven’t grown too much - the plan was just to sell it online this year.

Holy Basil


As we do have loads of space now I would be interested in hearing about any other basils that any of you have tried that we could consider growing.

Liza has been busy making pesto with a large quantity of basil she grew herself from seed and we all received a pot. I often use pesto in a very quick and easy recipe I found yonks ago and which will appear at the end of the newsletter.

Lisa's Pesto

Although Geoff left at the end of last season and, with him, his cat Dragon hiss, we have had a couple of new animal additions to the crew this year. Jade brought her little black cat Trinity with her and, in much the same way as Dragon hiss, you may well see her about at some of the shows.

Trinity through the cat flap!

Socks, the dog, has a new sidekick too, a little Jack Russell puppy called Grace who is always very excited to see everyone.

Socks & Grace

Last year I planted some goats rue (galega officinalis) in my garden, in a raised area where it wouldn’t be able to spread too far. I know how invasive it can be as it grows all along the sides of the roads near the M11/ A120/ Stansted airport roundabouts that aren’t far from us. It does look pretty stunning though. The flowers are lovely and seem to bloom white, pink or purple. The name Galega comes from the Greek ‘gala’ meaning milk, as goats rue is a galactagogue, which means it increases milk flow and has been used in the past for livestock. It is also has properties that help lower blood sugar levels and improve digestion. Its common name, goats rue, comes from the smell that is released from the foliage when crushed. Nice!

Goats Rue

Another herb that is also looking good at the moment is the angelica which I planted last year. It is a my front garden which faces North and only gets sun first thing in the morning and a bit in the evening, which it doesn’t mind. It grows reasonably large, as many of you know, and if yours is flowering this year be sure to sow the seed from it this autumn or let it self seed. It is plant that needs to germinate from fresh seed, preferably less than three months old. The seed also needs to sit in the soil over the winter. As a herb it is used for the female reproductive system. It also lowers fever and increases respiration and shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women or diabetics. The stems are candied and used in cake decorating. I’m sure I have talked about that in a previous newsletter.


Think that’s all for June. Please keep emailing with suggestions or questions.




Mozzarella Balls

One ball of mozzarella per person (the kind you buy in a bag of water)
Parma ham or similar

Simply cut the ball in half and sandwich back together with the pesto in the middle. Lay each ball on two pieces of ham crossed over each other and fold over the ball. Turn them up the other way so the loose ends pf the ham are underneath and put in a dish and heat up in the oven at 180 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. Some of the cheese will melt to give a sauce. Serve with a fresh salad and rice.