A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Herbs – Part 1
If you are new to gardening, you might have considered starting with some herbs. Easy to grow, and relatively low maintenance, herbs are a great early project for a fledgling gardener.
You don’t need a lot of space, or to spend much money to start your herb patch. Most herbs are perfectly happy in pots, so a windowsill or a patio is perfect. Other herbs can become part of a perennial display, such as rosemary or lavender – whose flowers can also be used as a herby, floral ingredient.
Pretty much any container you can think of is fine for a herb- terracotta pots are good for annuals that will die off at the end of summer. Terracotta can crack or shatter in very cold temperatures, so are best used for summer crops. Try using old wellies with a hole in the bottom, or another thick container with enough space for a root system to grow. Plastic pots are fine- make sure there is good drainage, both so the plant’s roots don’t drown, also that all of your water doesn’t just drain straight out of the bottom of the pot. Many issues with tender herbs come from watering problems.
As a newbie to gardening, or to herbs, you may wonder which ones are the best ones to start with. In this post, we will look at some of the best herbs to grow in your garden. These are easy to grow, and they have a variety of uses. Whether you want to cook with them, use them for medicine, or just enjoy their beauty, these herbs are a great choice for any herb gardener.
Kids can also get involved in herb gardening – any seed sewing or weeding is great for little hands to try out. It might even help them widen their palettes a little if they have helped to grow the flavourings that are filling their lunchboxes!
A key ingredient in many recipes, especially summer salads and Mediterranean classics, basil is Britain’s most widely sold herb. Originally from India, where it is considered sacred, it thrives in British soil, and thus is perfect for your kitchen garden.
How to grow basil:
A tender annual, unable to withstand cold weather and frost, basil can only be grown outdoors in the summer, and so must be moved inside during the winter months.
You can start it from seed, but I often start my basil off from a supermarket plant. Separate out all of the stems in the pot, and plant well spaced out in your larger pot.
The herb must be planted in fertile soil, and receive as much warmth and light as possible. Greenhouses are ideal, as are kitchen windowsills, for helping basil to survive for long periods.
With so many varieties of basil available to grow, why not experiment with a few this summer and enjoy the different tastes of your homemade salads and pasta dishes. Thai basil being a favourite in my house!
Chives are a member of the onion family and have a mild, onion-like flavor. They can be added to many dishes as a flavoring agent or garnish.
Their gorgeous purple flowers are both beautiful, and pack a strong, oniony flavour hit when added to salads.
How to grow chives:
Chives are the most straightforward to produce from seed, and they should be started indoors in early spring. The plants can be transplanted outside once the danger of frost has passed.
Chives thrive in a sunny position with well-drained soil. They may also be grown indoors in containers.
Chives are quite easy to grow and take care of, so you should have no trouble keeping them in good condition for many years. Simply snip the leaves as needed, and they will regenerate. The plant will usually come back after dying off over winter- so don’t throw away what looks like dead grass in the autumn! Keep it in a sheltered place, if you can, and watch it regenerate over the summer months.
Mint is a highly adaptable herb with a flavor that may be used in desserts or savories. It’s also wonderful for refreshing beverages and mixed drinks. There are hundreds of different varieties of mint with slightly different flavours- it’s well worth growing a few and mixing them together to create a minty cocktail!
How to grow mint:
Mint may be grown from seed, which should be kept inside in the early spring. The plants can then be transplanted outside as soon as all danger of frost has passed.
It prefers bright, sunny locations and well-drained soil. It may also be grown in containers. In fact- mint is highly invasive when left to it’s own devices. If planting in the ground, keep it in it’s small pot to avoid it spreading and choking other plants in your garden.
Mint is highly resilient and will endure for many years with little upkeep. Simply snip the leaves as needed, and they will re-grow.
Coriander, a common spice in many cuisines, has an earthy and citrusy flavor. It’s frequently used as a garnish or to enhance the taste of meals.
How to grow coriander:
Coriander is easiest to grow from seed, and it should be planted indoors in the early spring. Plants may be transplanted outdoors once the threat of frost has passed. You can also plant out supermarket plants in the same way as basil. This is great to avoid wasting a plant that can’t survive for long in a crowded, small pot.
Coriander is a great plant for containers and gardens with full sun. It should be positioned in a sunny area and have well-drained soil. It will also thrive in pots. It needs regular watering, and I’ve had some success with adding a very light application of plant food occasionally.
Coriander may take several years to grow and establish, but once it is there, it requires very little upkeep. Simply snip the leaves as needed, and they will regrow.
Once flowers and seed pods have formed, you can also harvest the coriander seeds, dried out these are a wonderful aromatic spice.