For some people growing herbs in their garden is an ambition for them. Herbs are something that many people enjoy using in cookery or for fragrance their home and they can also be pretty to grow as well. They do not have to take up much room and so they can be ideal for many different gardens. There are lots of different types as well and they can be a great way to save money, compared to buying from the supermarket. They can also look really pretty if you pick varieties with different coloured leaves and flowers.
Annual Versus Perennial
Some types of herbs will last all year round but others will only last in the warmer weather and you will need to think about whether you might prefer one type over another. You may want to have the herbs, not only to eat or use but also to look good in the garden all the year round or you may not mind whether they are there all of the time or not. It can be useful to know which types of herbs are annual and therefore will not last or are perennial and will last as this will help you to decide where to plant them. Annual herbs include basil, coriander, parsley, dill, chervil, marjoram, lemongrass, lovage and rocket. Perennial herbs include oregano, mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, sorrel and fennel.
Where to Grow Them
Herbs can be grown in the garden but also in containers as well, which makes them suitable for all sorts of types of garden. You can grow herbs inside but if you are looking to plant them in the garden then you will need to make sure they are in the right conditions. They tend to like sunshine and shelter from the wind. They need well drained soil, so if they are in a pot it will need holes in it to drain out excess water. They will not enjoy clay soil so you may need to add compost and grit to it so that drainage is better. Some will tolerate acid soil but most will prefer neutral to alkaline soils. In acidic soil you may need to add lime or perhaps grow in pots with the right soil type in them. Some are happy in coastal gardens which are salty so not all plants will tolerate them. Rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender are all fine though. If you have a shady spot then chervil, parsley, mint and chives will grow the best. It can be nice to have a dedicated herb garden as it is easier to harvest and it smells lovely. However, they can also look pretty in a flower border either along the edge or among the plants.
When to Plant Them
It is important to plant herbs at the right time. It is best to wait until March so that it is warmer and perhaps as late as August. Some are difficult to transplant and so it can be best to put them straight into their final growing places – particularly parsley, chamomile, dill and coriander. If you want a continuous supply then plant every 3-4 weeks. If you are not sure if it is warm enough you could plant in seed trays undercover and then harden them off before planting out once you are sure there is no more frost to come. Perennials are best planted in the spring undercover and slowly being hardened off before plating outside.
Looking After Them
Herbs are pretty easy to look after. If you grow them in pots they will need more attention a they will need watering and feeding which those in the soil will be less likely to need. Trimming in the spring will encourage new growth and deadheading as the flowers fade will also help new leaves to grown. In the autumn leave dead leaves in the plant as they are protective but make sure they do not get covered with fallen leaves or other debris as they may get fungal diseases as a result. When you are harvesting them you will need to remove leaves from the outside of the plant as then new leaves will be encouraged to develop in the centre. Leave at least two thirds there so that the plant can recover. It is best to harvest them in the morning as after that the essential oils may evaporate. The evergreens can be harvested all year round but they will not start growing again until spring.