Lean in, I’m about to tell you something you didn’t know. Or if you did, you can feel really smug about it. Either way, let me know in the comments below.
Do you ever buy those herb pots from the supermarket, use some of the herbs, and have the rest flop and die within days?
Say you’re making a caprese salad. This trick works particularly well with basil, but I’ll let you know some tips for other herbs further down.
Your first instinct is to pull off all of the biggest leaves, right? Then you can wait for the smaller ones to grow larger.
See the way the leaves are arranged here? There are pairs of leaves going up the stem. The two biggest leaves are near the bottom. You can also see some tiny leaves growing near the base of the big leaves. Then there is a cluster of smaller leaves further up the stem.
You are going to pinch off that cluster of leaves near the top.
If you want, you can go ahead and pull off those two larger leaves now. The stem suddenly looks a bit bare, but pinching out the tips gives the tiny leaves light, space and energy to grow. With basil, water it generously every few days and then wait until it is completely dry before watering it again. Put it in a sunny spot and it can last a good couple of months. Come back in June and tell me how you got on.
Other herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano: pick, pick, pick. Parsley, you can pick the lot right down near the bottom of the stems, and wait for it to come away again. It’s best to plant these herbs out in a window box if you have one. Parsley can last a long time if you do this and keep picking. Mint, I would again grow it in your window boxes (give it plenty of water though) or just buy it in bunches rather than pots and keep it in a jar of water on a ledge or table. Rosemary and sage, buy it from the supermarket as it’s cheaper than the garden centre (London garden centres at least – and wait until they’re on offer at the supermarket), and plant it out in a well-drained spot.
But for now, just enjoy your caprese salad.
Tomatoes, mozarella, plenty of basil, a generous amount of salt, and a few good glugs of olive oil.