Edible Doorstep Garden
South Africa’s favourite holiday is surely our National Braai Day, and fresh-picked herbs transform good food into the best of meals. Whether it’s chopped parsley and chives for the potato salad, fresh bay and curry leaves for the sosatie marinade, or sprigs of oregano and thyme to go with the cheese in the braaibroodjies, the chef will appreciate an easy-access herb rack right outside the kitchen door. No matter how tiny a back yard, there’s usually space enough to grow a few fresh herbs at the doorstep or even under the washing line. Place a plastic bowl inside the kitchen sink when you wash fruit and vegetables and tip the water onto the doorstep plants for easy, water-wise watering.
What to plant
Select herbs according to the amount of sun and light your back door area gets. Garden centre staff can recommend plants for your microclimate and get you started with an array of healthy specimens.
Consider oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, dill, and sage for a sunny spot. Mints (try spearmint and catnip), coriander, parsley, rocket, chives, fennel, and lemon grass grow in shadier spaces. Lemon verbena, bay, and curry leaf plants can all grow very big, but they’re happy trimmed to fit a small area or container.
In the kitchen garden
Make the most of the spring warmth to sow and plant as wide a range of veggies as you have space for. Get your green peppers and eggfruit settled in, and begin a succession sowing of bush beans.
You should be enjoying fresh lettuce, sugar snaps, peas, carrots and broad beans now and, of course, it’s the season for harvesting strawberries and asparagus too!
Veggie of the moment is Radish – more to this little guy than you’d have thought!
– Slice or grate the juicy fat roots and add them to potato salad, wraps, or dips for an extra fillip of crunch and tang.
– Don’t throw the leaves away! Select a large bunch of crisp green radish leaves (include some mint or coriander leaves too, for extra interest), chop roughly and whizz in the blender with garlic, a handful cashew or brazil nuts, parmesan cheese, and enough olive oil to make a light, zesty pesto. Season to taste, and use as a dip for crisps and crudités, to dress a green salad, or as a saucy accompaniment for braaied chops. Yum!