Herb gardens are becoming increasingly popular as gardeners discover how easy they are to grow and maintain. You don’t even need a large piece of land to grow your own herbs in your garden as they will happily thrive in beds, containers, windowsills and even hanging baskets.
When growing an herb garden it is worth thinking about which herb plants you are going to use, annual, perennial or biennial. Annual herbs such as basil, coriander, dill and chervil are fast growing and may need to be sown at intervals throughout spring and summer to ensure you have a continuous fresh supply. Find more great herb varieties to grow and plenty of growers advice at our herb hub page.
How to grow Basil
Basil seed can be sown from February to June, or for indoor cultivation sown throughout the year out of season. Basil requires sustained warmth so it is best kept on a sunny windowsill, in a propagator at a temperature of 15-25C (59-77F) or seal the container inside a polythene bag until after germination, which takes 14-21 days. When they are large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots and grow basil plants on in cooler conditions.
How to grow Mint
Mint is an easy to grow perennial herb, requiring minimal attention and returning year after year. Sow mint seeds indoors or under glass from winter to early summer. Place the seed tray in a propagator at a temperature of 21-24C (70-75F) and when seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3″) pots and grow on in cooler conditions. Once all risk of frost has passed gradually acclimatise before placing outside.
Growing herbs in containers
Growing herbs in containers is the perfect option for those who are limited on space. They will be most convenient placed on the patio by your back door, where they are within easy reach when cooking. For larger herbs such as rosemary, make sure you use a larger pot so they are less likely to dry out. The best compost to grow herbs in is loam-based compost such as John Innes and feed your pot-grown herbs regularly with a balanced fertiliser throughout the growing season.
Top tips for growing herbs
1. Trimming herbs in the spring will encourage a flush of new healthy leaves.
2. Dead-head your herbs as the flowers start to fade to channel their energy into leaf growth.
3. In the autumn it’s best to leave any dead foliage on the plant to help protect it throughout winter.
4. Re-pot after a few years if your herb plants start to look weak and dry out quickly.
5. When harvesting herbs, remove foliage from the outside of the plant, allowing new leaves to develop in the centre.
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.