8 easy things to grow at home and how to eat them

8 things to grow at home

And how to eat them

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Inspired by our kitchen garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which was packed full of edible herbs, fruits and vegetables, we asked our garden designer Alan Williams and Parsley Box Head of Product, Cassandra Suddes for their advice on what to grow in your own green space or window box and some accompanying recipe ideas for your spoils.

1. Rocket

“This salad crop is quick and easy to grow” says RHS Chelsea silver medalist, Alan.

“Sow every two weeks for a continuous harvest. Remove flower stalks to prolong leaf production, unless you want to eat the flowers and seed pods too – both are edible.”

Cassandra suggests a rocket pesto, drizzled over salads or stirred through pasta, as a great way to make the most of your beautifully grown rocket.

Add 50g pine nuts, 100g rocket, 50g parmesan, 150ml olive oil and a garlic clove to a blender. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a paste. Once made your pesto will keep in the fridge for up to five days.

2. Kale

Kale is commonly grown in home veggie gardens because it thrives easily. Alan suggests the Nero di Toscana variety as a good option for planting.

Cassandra offers kale chips as a delicious use of your handiwork. “They are great for snacking or on top of a hearty soup.”

Strip leaves from the stalks and midribs. Wash, dry and tear the leaves into slightly larger than chip-sized pieces. Toss in a large bowl with extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Massage the leaves to coat evenly.

Spread onto baking trays in single layers. Be sure not to crowd them or they won’t dry evenly. Bake for 20 minutes at 160⁰C. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container and eat within a few days.

3. Mint

Mint can be easily grown in pots either indoors or outdoors. Its soil should be moist but well-drained and they should reside in places of sun with partial shade,” says Alan.

Cassandra believes a classic mint chutney is a great option for homegrown mint. Pairing well with samosas and pakoras, mint chutney also works well on wraps, roasted vegetables or with lamb.

Place 75g coriander, 55g mint leaves, two deseeded green chillies, a one-inch piece of ginger, 60ml fresh lime juice and three tablespoons of rice vinegar in a blender and pulse until they form a rough paste. Season your chutney with salt and pepper, place in an airtight container and use within three days.

4. Lavender

Never eaten lavender before? There are many varieties of culinary lavender that flourish in home gardens, not only looking and smelling great but providing you with a usable edible as well. Cassandra suggests trying Lavender Rice Pudding for a sweet florally dessert.

Heat one litre of milk, with one teaspoon of culinary lavender grains in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature (10-15 minutes) and strain.

In a large saucepan, bring 220g of pudding rice, six tablespoons of honey, and the lavender-infused milk to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and creamy. Add one-and-a-half teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 250ml double cream and a knob of butter.

Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Add more honey to taste. Remove from the heat and serve. Lavender also works well in shortbread, cakes and scones.

5. Edible pelargonium

Speaking of cakes, these colourful plants can be used as an infusion to flavour cakes and cocktail syrups. Both the leaves and petals of this vibrant flower are edible.

”The leaves can be used in a classic lemon drizzle mix and the cake can then be adorned with its pretty petals” Cassandra suggests. Similarly, the bright flowers make excellent edible garnish for summery cocktails in the garden.

6. Chillies

“Chillies are very easy to grow, with varieties ranging from mild to mouth-melting. In particular the Shatta plant is a Palestinian fiery chilli condiment excellent with meats, salads and sandwiches,” says Alan.

Cassandra suggests a versatile chilli dressing. Homemade with homegrown chilli – it also makes for a wonderful gift for friends. Thinly slice 250g red or green chillies keeping the seeds. Mix with one tablespoon of salt, place in a sterilised jar, seal and store in the fridge for three days. Drain and blitz to a rough paste. Add three tablespoons of cider vinegar and one tablespoon of lemon juice, mix well and return to the same jar. Pour enough olive oil over the surface to seal and keep it in the fridge.

7. Tomatoes

“These colourful fruits are happy in pots, grow bags and even hanging baskets,” says Alan. “Plant young bush or trailing varieties in large containers in May and cover during cold spells.”

Tomatoes are incredibly versatile and can be added to many dishes. A less well known snack that Cassandra suggests is buttered tomatoes with ginger. These tomatoes can be spooned over thick crusty toasted bread, meat or grilled halloumi, or even served with rice or stirred through pasta.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large pan and add two thinly sliced spring onions and half an inch of peeled ginger cut into matchsticks.

Cook for one minute, stirring often. Add 300g of tomatoes (cut into one-inch cubes or halved if cherry tomatoes) and cook, turning gently with a spoon, until juicy and just warmed through. Add one tablespoon of soy sauce and toss. Season to taste. 

And finally…

8. Carrots

“Carrots ordinarily need deep soil to grow well, but there are short-rooted varieties available which do well in containers,” says Alan.

Cassandra suggests making the most of your carrots with a quick pickle. Easy to make, quick-pickled carrots can be added to sandwiches for an acidic bite, or tossed with sesame seeds and herbs for a colourful salad.

Boil 100g of sugar with 200ml of water, 100ml white wine vinegar and 20g salt, then chill. Create carrot ribbons from three carrots and add to the cooled vinegar mixture. Leave for 24 hours to pickle. For more flavour, add whole cumin, coriander and fennel seeds to the pickling vinegar.

Do you grow any of these in your garden already? Are you keen to try any of Cassandra’s recipe suggestions or do you have any go-to recipes of your own for your produce?

We’d love to hear from you.