Yes, I grow herbs at home. Yes, most of the herbs used in my cooking are picked from the garden.
Yes, I have learned to propagate by cutting. Yes, I buy potted herbs on a semi-regular basis especially those varieties that cannot be propagated through cuttings. Like parsley. And cilantro. No, potted herbs are not expensive. No, they are not hard to grow. No, they don’t require too much tending.
Just answering questions that I’ve often received in my inbox. Might as well do it now since we just replanted some newly bought herbs.
That’s my husband transferring the mint to a trough. Mint shouldn’t be planted near other bushes because their roots grow so much and become invasive.
Where did we buy the mint and how the heck did I know about the root thing?
There are many places where you can buy potted herbs. For those who live south of Metro Manila, you can find potted herbs and fruit trees behind the Mahogany meat market in Tagaytay City. For those who live in the Makati and Taguig area, you can buy them in Market! Market! But the place with the most varieties of herbs — and the only place I know where you can get useful information for tending, propagation and harvesting — is the Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City. Most herbs are sold at 3 pots for 100 pesos. What they don’t have in stock, you can even order. Leave your phone number and they will call you when what you require is already available.
The Manila Seedling Bank is located at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue. The entrance used to be along EDSA but it was moved about two years ago. The location is the same though; only the entrance was moved. To get to Manila Seedling Bank, from EDSA, turn to North Avenue then to Agham Road where you’ll find the entrance. If you’re coming from North Avenue, it’ll be on your right and a few meters before the Philippine Science High School.
We were there yesterday and we bought four varieties of basil (mine drowned during the recent typhoon), three varieties of mint, Italian oregano, spinach (yes!), Asian pennywort and a pot of kaffir lime to replace the one that died.
The great thing about Manila Seedling Bank is that you are furnished with a leaflet for every variety of herb you buy. The leaflet contains the common and scientific name of the herb, what it is commonly used for, how to care for it, how to propagate it and when the best time is to harvest.
Aside from herbs commonly used for cooking, you can also buy herbs for health uses. That was where I bought a bag of wheatgrass seeds, for instance. They also have pots and pots of cat’s whiskers, the plant used for making Java tea which is said to be good for treating kidney ailments.
In short, the Manila Seedling bank is a haven not only for cooks who like to add fresh herbs to their dishes but also for the health buffs who prefer alternative medicine.
So, there. I hope you find all that useful.
P.S. The other thing that people have been bugging me to write about — basic kitchen tools and equipment for painless home cooking — will be written in time. Sometime. Hopefully, soon.