It’s a joy to have fresh herbs in the garden, they’re obviously useful for cooking and they’re all good-looking plants too.
But the really satisfying thing about growing your own herbs, is that once you’ve bought the plant everything is a bonus, they’re as fresh as can be and without any polluting transportation-miles or expensive trips to the supermarket.
Since moving house recently, I’m replenishing my stock of herb plants and the most important ones for me are the ones that are at home basking in the hot, dry stony slopes of a mediterranean hillside:
vital statistics: evergreen, can be used all year round, likes sun and a well-drained soil, add grit if your soil is heavy or doesn’t drain well, it eventually reaches 1mx1m.
Miss Jessops Upright is a good one that doesn’t sprawl too much if space is tight.
vital statistics: evergreen, it likes the same conditions as rosemary and grows up to 1mx1m, once it’s established itself, it needs to be cut back to a a pair of fresh leaf buds in the spring to stop it getting leggy, the resulting new leaves will be soft and grey.
a fragrant evergreen herb, really tastes like summer, there are lots of different types, the lemon is a favourite.
vital statistics: 10cm high x 30cm, trim the flowers off to keep it tight and neat.
How to plant herbs in a pot:
- water the pots of herbs well for about half an hour before planting, letting them stand in a saucer to soak up the moisture, then they’ll be off to a good start
- place the pot in its’ final position if you’ll have trouble moving it when it’s finished, but avoid planting when it’s hot and sunny
- a layer of broken pieces of plant pot or stones in the base of the pot help prevent the drainage holes getting clogged with soil
- you’ll need a third multi-purpose compost, a third loam based compost and a third shingle/horticultural grit, this last bit is most important because it provide the drainage that these plants need.
- combine all the compost and grit together in a plastic trug or wheelbarrow and fill the plant-pot three-quaters full
- gently tip the plants out of their pots and arrange them in the pot before you plant them to check that you’re happy with their position
- carefully tease out the roots and plant them firming in the soil with your finger-tips
- make sure the roots are covered with soil, but the neck of the plant isn’t or it may rot
- keep the level of the soil an inch below the edge of the pot so the water doesn’t spill out when it’s all watered
- a layer of shingle finishes it all nicely and helps keep the leaves away from the soil and dry.
They’re packed into this pot so next year I’ll plant them into their own individual pots or directly into the garden in well-drained soil, meanwhile they’re near the door for handy picking.
These plants can send roots down to find water when they’re in the ground, but they rely on being watered when they’re planted in containers, so a nice deep one works well, but avoid letting the soil become water-logged.
See the recipe for rosemary scones here they are delicious.
all photos: Jill Anderson