In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle"
Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, waxes lyrical as
he contemplates his February garden.
- Chinese Capsicum -
Many years ago I took my first horticultural qualification by correspondence while working on an oil rig in the North Sea.
This meant that I spent my off-shift time wrestling with the
ins and outs of herbaceous plant cultivation as my friends and
colleagues poured over a magazine in which a curvaceously endowed
lady by the name of Candice featured under the title -- Miss May.
The hottest question at the time revolved around whether nature
had truly so well endowed Candice, whilst my study of nature --
herbaceous and all -- turned out to be tame by comparison. As
I remember the debate was never conclusively resolved and that
probably remains the case. I however hope that I at least have
managed to get a handle on some of those herbs that I now work
Culinary Herbs in Pots
One of my clients has decided that this year we will dedicate
a large section of her patio to growing culinary herbs in pots.
The area is very sunny and ideal for this purpose and as since
Miss May days, herbs have captured my attention, this is a task
I look forward to. Not only are potted herbs attractive to look
at and of course a major asset to cooks, they also carry with
them a long pedigrees of folklore and myth that greatly adds to
the interest in growing them. Culinary and medicinal herbs have
been used by man for as long as 60,000 years.
I will need to have ordered seed by the end of this month for
any plants that are being grown by this method although I will
bring in many as plugs or in pots grown from cuttings taken last
year. I was also lucky enough to stumble on a stall holder at
a market selling punnets of mixed chillies which I subsequently
dried. Each colourful little box held over a dozen different cultivars
of Capsicum ranging from the mild to the spicy Capsicum Chinese"Habanero".
This bright orange lantern shaped chilli is said to be the hottest
in the world. I like a spicy meal but don't feel a need to plunge
quite as deeply into the realms of the super hot - however their
wonderful colours do add interest to our herb area.
In addition to Simon and Garfunkel's parsley, sage, rosemary
and thyme I will put in lemon grass, coriander and of course a
small standard bay. They will need a well drained planting medium
with plenty of grit mixed in but many herbs will thrive in our
warm summer weather.
Planted into a variety of different shaped and sized terracotta
pots I have high hopes that they will add some dramatic focus
to a fairly under-utilised area as well as being an healthy asset
to my client's kitchen.
As for Candice, if you happen to read this could you please get
in touch. I have some friends who still have some very pressing
questions to put to you.