Growing Herbs

Fresh Herbs at your finger tips.

 

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Fresh Herbs at your Finger Tips.
         Herbs have always been an important ingredient of domestic country gardens, where they were grown almost exclusively for their practical uses. It is only comparatively recently that the cottage garden has been appreciated and become fashionable.
         Classic cottage garden herbs include the essential culinary species, perhaps with the addition of coriander, garlic and one or two specimens of southernwood or curry plant to brush in passing. On the whole, the authentic range of cottage herbs was fairly conservative.
Borage adds a touch of blue: The star-shaped  flowers  of borage are sky-blue, and are highly ornamental  in the garden  and at the table. The grey-green  leaves are thick  and hairy. However, borage  is best known as a medicinal  plant and will also attract bees for honey production.
  • Once  you've  introduced  it into your garden, it will be there forever,  as it self-seeds  copiously. If it appears where you don't want it, treat it as a weed  and pull it up.
Perennial  onions to sow: Welsh  onions are useful  all year round. A small clump  will bulk up over time to form a large  clump.  Lift and divide  the clumps in spring to make more plants or, if you leave a few flower heads to set seed,  the seeds are easy to gather and sow to make more plants.
Chervil being picked from a garden bed
The subtle taste of chervil: Chervil  has aniseed-flavoured feathery foliage.  It is a hardy  biennial,  although  it is usually treated as an annual.  Sow  seed in trays or pots in a cool greenhouse  in early spring or outdoors  in late spring.
Where it is sown directly into the ground,  thin seedlings to 25cm. Chervil seedlings are delicate and need careful handling when planting.
  • Grow them in partial shade as otherwise the plants will bolt and run to seed.
  • Chives for the border:  Chives  are hardy perennials, but they die down  in winter  so are often  sown annually.  Sow seed early in trays of modular cells in a greenhouse  in spring. Harden  off and plant out in late spring or early summer,  in well-drained soil in full sun. Alternatively  you can buy small plants from garden  centres or herb specialists.  Their pink flowers  make them attractive  in the front of a border. In mild winters  the new shoots  may develop early.  If this happens,  cover them with a cloche  or horticultural  fleece  to protect  them and encourage the shoots  over winter.
 
Chives-in-a-garden-bed
  • To ensure the plants are vigorous  and healthy, divide the clump  into smaller sections  every  two to three years,  in early spring. Plant the smaller sections  25-30cm apart  in rows.  You can divide  chives in summer if you do, cut them back to 5cm above  ground  level and they will grow well.
coriander-leaves-and-seeds
  • Coriander -leaves or seeds?:  For best  results sow coriander direct into its growing site when all danger  of frost is past. If you are growing it primarily  for seed, give the plants adequate space  and plant them early,  in May or June.  If the aromatic  foliage is of more interest, sow seed later, in July. There are also some varieties that are specially developed  for  their foliage.  Grow coriander  in partial shade for better leaf production.
Tasty cumin and caraway seeds:  Cumin and caraway produce masses  of seeds  that lend a distinctive  taste to spicy and fragrant dishes.
  • Cumin is a tender annual.  Sow it in a heated  propagator  in a greenhouse  in spring. Transplant  into well-drained soil in a sheltered,  sunny site.
  • Caraway  is a hardy  biennial.  Sow  seed into rich loamy  soil in spring. It grows well in full sun.  You can also sow it in early autumn  to over winter.
          
 
Did You Know
Natural Protection: By planting practical and ornamental plants together to make use of every last bit of space in the garden, cottage gardeners noticed that certain herbs seem to protect both vegetables and flowers. They planted chives around the base of rose bushes to control greenfly and black spot, a scourge of garden roses. Dill was grown to protect carrots from carrot fly, winter and summer savory were thought to keep aphids away from broad bean plants, and horseradish was formerly used to  combat fungus  in fruit trees. 
 


Herbs in Planters.
 
Herbs in Planters
Herbs in planters need special attention ,as they are totally  dependent  on the gardener for their welfare. Their greatest  need is water:  the toughest drought-loving  herb cannot survive for long in bone-dry soil and you must therefore  check regularly (daily or even twice daily in a hot summer) that the soil stays consistently  moist.  Leafy herbs will appreciate  an occasional feed of houseplant fertilizer, but for others  annual re-potting  or top-dressing is enough  to replenish their diet.

   
 
 
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