Gardening expert shares signs your herbs and lettuce leaves could be too ‘bitter’ to eat

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Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your dishes and add wonderful colour and fragrant smells to your garden. They’re also perfect for growing in more shady spots, along with lettuce leaves. While a sunny garden is preferable at this time of year, not everyone is lucky enough to have a south-facing garden.

Gardening expert Jane Perrone explained that there are advantages to having a shady garden.

Jane is currently working alongside Mash Direct, which has launched a campaign to get people across the country growing their own vegetables and herbs.

She told “If you’re growing herbs – the Mediterranean herbs – so that’s things like rosemary and sage and basil – they love loads and loads of sun.

“But if you’re talking about things like maybe some parsley and some chervil, those kinds of herbs tend to cope better in the shade.

“Often you can grow lettuce as well, lots of lettuce will grow quite well in not super sunny conditions.”

If you’re not sure what will grow well in your garden, Jane recommends reading the back of seed packets which should tell you everything you need to know.

“Just have a look at what the packet says and it should give you information on where something will grow,” she said.

“Often, it’s just as simple as that.

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“Don’t feel like there’s some kind of secret code – I know we’re reluctant to read the instructions!”

Another reason it’s sometimes better to have less sun is because certain crops can start to flower.

Bolting is when they start to flower before they’re harvested in an attempt to produce seeds and reproduce.

If your crops or herbs start to do this, they have “bolted”.

Jane explained further: “Sometimes it’s beneficial to have less sun for those kind of crops because what lettuce does, when it gets a bit dry and a bit stressed, and a bit too hot in full sun, it does what’s called ‘bolting’.

“It comes up to flower and that’s the point where you don’t want to eat it because it gets very bitter.

“You want all those lovely young leaves before it bolts.

“Sometimes lettuce can be better in the shade because it won’t bolt so quickly.

“It’s true of herbs as well. So things like coriander and parsley will again bolt and flower.

“The flowers are beautiful and you can harvest the seed and pollinators love the flowers, but if you want the leaves you want to try and hold them back from producing those flowers because that basically means the end of all those lovely lush leaves.”

Mash Direct, the award-winning “field-to-fork” vegetable accompaniments brand, is launching the “Grow Your Own” campaign to encourage more people across the UK to grow their own vegetables and herbs and to increase their vegetable intake to harness the associated health and wellbeing benefits.

From May 24 – July 2, Mash Direct is challenging individuals to grow their own vegetables and herbs in their gardens, allotments and window sills.

If they showcase the evidence on social media, tagging @mashdirect and #GrowWithMash, they will be placed in a draw to win free gardening tools and Mash Direct products.

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