Following on from how to grow hardier types of herbs, Part 2 of How To Grow Herbs is all about growing annuals. Quick and easy to grow, they’re the gems of the herb world.
Sown from seed each year, they provide flavour & variety. Most are small & ideal for growing in containers or on a window-sill. There are two categories of annuals, hardy & half-hardy.
These are all pretty tough, & not sensitive to frost, so don’t need much cosseting once they’ve germinated.
Flat leaved parsley is the best one for flavour. I’d hate to be without it because it can be used in so many dishes.
Happiest in a good, moist soil, with a little shade. It’s a good herb for containers if space is tight, or you want a handy pot of it by the back door.
It’s takes 2 or 3 weeks to germinate, speed this up by watering the Drill with warm water just before sowing.
Strictly speaking it’s a biennial, i.e. grows in the first year & flowers in the second. My parsley is still good from last summer, it hasn’t flowered so far, grown in a container, its in a sheltered place by the kitchen door. I’m starting a fresh crop any day.
Sow in spring & again in about 6-7 weeks later for a plentiful supply.
A must for south Asian & Indian recipes as a garnish.
A sunny place in well drained soil is the best place.
Start sowing in March inside or April directly into the soil. Sow again every 4 weeks for a good supply through summer, because it bolts (sets seed & stops growing) very easily.
A very pretty plant with feathery leaves & acid green flowers. The flowers should be picked before they form, maybe leave 1 or 2 plants for flowering. You may not use it a lot, but it has such a different flavour to other herbs, that it’s worth having. Fabulous with fish, especially salmon.
Plenty of light, but not full sun, in well-drained soil.
Sow directly into the soil in mid-spring, thin the seedlings to 25cm/10in. Make a couple more sowings, it’s a ‘bolter’, at 4 week intervals.
Please don’t be put off growing these absolute treasures by the half-hardy bit. They just need different care & conditions to their hardier cousins.
They need warmth & wont survive outside in frost or chilly winds.
A wonderful summer flavour for any Italian dish, especially good with tomatoes.
Plants can be grown outside when there are no more frosty nights, that’s end of May here in Surrey.
Somewhere warm & sunny, but not baking sunshine all day, the leaves are delicate. Give plants a little water every day in summer.
Sow the seeds under cover in late April/early May. Grow the purple variety as well, it doesn’t have as much flavour as the green ones, but a mixture of the two on a plate is a winning combination.
Start them off inside on a sunny widow-sill, pot them into small individual pots when they have at least 3 sets of leaves. Continue potting into the next size up as they grow. They don’t like sudden changes in temperature, so I keep mine inside. They’ll be fine outside if you have a sunny, sheltered place in your garden.
See part 1 of How To Grow Herbs, including rosemary, chives & mint, here.
Sustainable gardening is close to my heart, so I wanted to let you know about Peat Free April. It’s a plea to all gardeners to use composts that are completely peat-free.
Peat bogs provide a home for many rare, small creatures & plants. Peat bogs also store lots of carbon, which keeps it out of the atmosphere, where it would contribute to global warming.
Amateur gardeners use 69% of all the peat sold in the U.K., so we really can make a difference.
Deliveries may not be as speedy as usual, but they are still sending compost out at the time of writing.
Find Part 1 of How To Grow Herbs here.
*Facts & figures from Plantlife, a Charity dedicated to saving our wild plants.
Next week’s blog is about How To Grow Edible Flowers. Just what you need to make your food look lovely & many of them add flavour too.
Look after yourselves & have a happy weekend.
All photos: Jill Anderson