At the end of September I was the lucky trial recipient of Jekka’s Autumn Culinary Herb Box (Instagam: @jekkasherbfarm). It arrived on the doorstep the right way up and resplendent with Jekka’s daughter, artist Hannah McVicar’s (IG: @hannah.mcvicar) signature illustrations for her mother’s herbs.
My task was to check that on arrival all was well with the herbs inside and to report back on how they had travelled from the nursery to my doorstep. The four one-litre pots fitted snugly into the box, in a wine-bottle type cardboard formation, each with a little green wooden cane with a round cane topper secured in the compost. So the canes restricted the movement of the plants upwards and, as a result, there was very little loss or movement of compost from each pot. This meant that there was no need to wrap the base of each pot with plastic to contain the compost.
My Autumn Culinary box contained four herbs and I have been singing along with Simon & Garfunkel ever since receipt for they are “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme….”
The parsley is flat-leaf ‘French’ parsley and I have put that straight into an outdoor container. Rosmarinus ‘Primley Blue’, broad-leaved sage and the compact common thyme are destined for the ground, as soon as they have grown a bit and I have cleared some space.
It is a while since I have refreshed my perennial herbs and it is good to see how these slow- and home-grown perky herbs look in one-litre pots ready for the off in the garden.
The package came complete with four cards illustrated by Hannah. One set out the contents of the box giving a brief description of each herb and its uses. The second was a growing guide, suggesting timing for re-potting or planting out, how to do this and generally, how to look after the new plants. The third card is Jekka’s calling card outlining tours and open days, master classes and web information about her Jekkapedia. The fourth offers a recipe, in this case for a fresh herb pâté using parsley and tarragon… I will be giving this a go soon.
There are two other people in the Jekka family team who should be mentioned. One is husband Mac, who when they exhibited at shows was a familiar figure making and breaking down the stands and providing much, much more besides. And now their son Alistair is the mastermind creating Jekka’s web presence and, with his Leith’s culinary expertise, offering input to some of the food-related classes and events.
And because it was a consignment of living plants the herbs also had their own Plant Passport.
Last weekend (11 October 2020) Jekka launched two more culinary boxes: the Evergreen Collection and the Perennial Collection. The Evergreen Collection contains Lavandula ‘Willow Vale’, oregano, Rosmarinus ‘Benenden Blue’ and broad-leaved thyme. The Perennial Collection is French lavender, desert mint, Myrtus communis ‘Pyewood Park” and Cretan thyme. The recipes for each box are delicious-sounding… Mint tea in the Perennial Collection will go down well at any time!
Although this doesn’t mark a return to traditional mail order Jekka plans to curate and offer more collections in due course.
Now how many more herbs can I fit into the garden…?