The last article on food gardening covered several perennial herbs that survive cold frosty weather and can be harvested during the winter months.
Chervil, parsley and coriander are cold hardy biennial or annual herbs that also do well in the colder weather and all look very similar.
Biennial plants complete their lifecycle in two years. The first year they produce leaves and stems; in the second, they flower, set seeds, and die. Biennial herbs to grow and harvest in winter are chervil and parsley.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is an under-appreciated culinary herb that flowers in its second year. Chervil has delicate, parsley-like foliage and a mild liquorice flavour and is best used fresh in salads, scrambled eggs and on steamed vegetables. Chervil is very winter hardy and does not like hot, dry conditions so should be kept consistently moist. Chervil is a prolific self-seeder and once you have it you won't be without it.
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Parsley also produces dense foliage the first year and flowers in its second season. Both flat-leaved Italian and curly parsley are great used as a garnish, salad herbs, or to enhance pastas, soups and salads.
It will continue to grow slowly over winter and while it may die back a bit if hit by a particularly severe frost, it will re-shoot. Parsley prefers a rich soil full of compost or well-rotted manure.
Leaves from plants in their second year will be slightly more bitter than those from first-year plants, so if you prefer, you can grow it as an annual and just pull the plants out at the end of the first season, but if left it will self-sow year after year if conditions are right.
Coriander looks like parsley but the leaves are more rounded and have lacy edges, while parsley leaves are more serrated with pointy edges.
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Coriander, also known as cilantro, is used extensively in Middle Eastern, North African, Asian and Indian cooking.
Coriander bolts to seed with even minor setbacks such as hot weather or disturbed roots when transplanting. Grow it quickly to prevent it going to seed before it puts on much leafy growth, by watering regularly and fertilising every fortnight with an organic liquid fertiliser, worm juice or compost tea. Wet the leaves as well as the root zone for maximum uptake of nutrients.
Mulch well to suppress weed growth, keep the root systems cool and retain moisture.
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