Whatever the size of your garden; whether it’s a balcony or a courtyard, herbs are the one thing you can rely on to grow. And there’s a huge benefit; not only with a herb garden add colour and scent but you can also grow ingredients you can chuck in your home-cooked meals.
Here are our top herb garden tips:
- Think about how much sun you get in your plot and plant accordingly. If your small space is usually in shade think of herbs like comfrey or lemon balm that will do well in shade.
- Annuals like basil and coriander will be green all year round and will grow back each year. Perennials like mint, fennel and thyme may need to be replanted each year but you can cut your crop. Woody perennials like rosemary, lavender and sage aren’t only beautiful (and grow quickly) but they have a glorious scent.
- Plan an annual planting schedule so that you know what you’re doing with your herbs. Start in January, herbs like basil should be grown from March in either greenhouse or a sunny window ledge. You can still get frost up until the end of April so you need to protect the fledgeling herbs as they grow./ once the plant reaches 15 cm high cut the shoot tip. This will ensure the plant grows bushier (outwards) rather than upwards and make it stronger. Once it’s June you can plan outside. A final sowing in Autumn will give you basil leaves for the winter months.
- If you’ve bought a herb plant in a pot take cuttings so that you can diversify and plant in different places or at different times of the year. Simply cut off a stem that’s around ten cm long (a handspan, roughly) and remove the lower leaves. Stand the cuttings in a jar of water until they form roots. Once they’ve rooted plant in free draining compost. Learn more about herb cutting here.
- Know which plants like to be moved and which like to stay put. Coriander and dill don’t like having their roots disturbed so don’t. Show them where you want them to grow.
- It takes around two to four weeks for seeds to germinate. You have to ensure the soil is moist, especially in a pot, so make sure you water regularly. Morning is often the best time, especially if the plants are in sun.
- Herbs don’t tend to grow well in peat so use a soil based compost for the best results. It will retain moisture and help to prevent herbs drying out. Learn more about soil PH levels for herbs here.
- Herbs like Rosemary and Mint can grow like weeds so you might need to control them. The light will affect how fast they grow so plant in part shade or cover slightly with a parasol if you want to control their growth. Herbs tend to do best in sunny spots, they are Mediterranean plants after all. Track where the sun falls on your posts and move accordingly in the morning so they get the best light in the day while you’re out.
- If you want to keep your herbs growing every season you need to cut back after they flower. Autumn is a perfect time. You can dry herbs by hanging them and freeze them if you’ve grown too many.
- If you’re growing in containers the ideal solution is to theme them. Opt for a salad window box with rockets or French parsley them opt for a flavoursome box of chives and oregano alongside it. Watch this great video for inspiration.