How to: Create your own herb garden with Sarah Raven

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Sarah Raven’s must-have herbs

Herbs form the foundations of many successful kitchen gardens are an excellent place to start if you’re looking to elevate home-cooked meals. Whether you’re looking to fill a window box, a series of pots, or make a statement with a plant theatre, fresh herbs are much more effective than dried, and homegrown much more than shop bought.

Of the reliable evergreens, rosemary is at the top of my list! Aromatic and superabundant, from March this plant will flower away right until autumn - it makes for a great plant for spring pollinators too. Rather than just the standard grey-blue-flowered rosemary, I go for a named variety with more interesting, coloured flowers, such as Rosemary 'Tuscan Blue'. I’d also be lost without bay now, even though it can grow to an impressive size and quite quickly too.

Create your own herb garden

If you’re looking to create your very own herb garden, below are the plants that every home cook should grow. Most are very quick-growing and are a mixture of annual and perennial, which need to find a permanent spot. Rich, fragrant and totally delicious, creating your own tried and tested combinations is all part of the fun.

Here’s a list of the best herbs to introduce…

  • Chives - An easy and quick germinating perennial herb from seed, which is cut-and-come-again, with a characteristic, mild oniony flavour. Chives will thrive in the shoulder months of the year, ideal in February, March, and April. These are perennial, so sow once, and they’ll be there forever.
  • Florence Fennel 'Romanesco’ – A summer sowing variety, which forms the largest, most succulent bulbs, yet it remains tasty, tender, and sweet.
  • French Tarragon – The best herb to eat with fish and chicken. This has five times the flavour of the supermarket-bought herb.
  • Coriander- ‘Leisure’ – Although we often associate coriander with Thai or Indian cuisine and hot and dry climates coriander thrives in cooler temperatures at the shoulders of the year. Best sown in late August, to harvest within about three weeks.
  • Mint – One of the most versatile herbs you can grow. Garden Mint is great for eating raw in salads and things like tabbouleh, Moroccan Mint can be used for that too (plus for tea), and Apple Mint is lovely for throwing into boiling water to flavour peas and potatoes. The last two are fabulous for drinks and puddings, looking and tasting great on the plate.
  • Oregano – Integral to Greek cuisine, and a definitely favourite of Sarah’s. It’s essential for cutting through fatty lamb or feta because of its sharp and bright flavour. Sow in March/April to pick through the summer. The flowers are particularly good for bees and butterflies.
  • Parsley 'Gigante di Napoli' - Among the annuals, grow a flat-leaved parsley called. This has the tenderest leaves for the longest and is quick to grow, but slow to bolt.
  • Basil - perfect for a sunny spot by the doorstop or on a window ledge. If it’s starting to look a bit tired, take a stem from it and root it in a glass of water. This will give you a great succession of herbs and couldn’t be easier either!

Display inspiration: More is more

If you’re looking to elevate a terrace, patio or a small urban garden, a plant theatre is an excellent choice for displaying pots of herbs. Not only does it have a small footprint, but it will allow you to create vertical interest with its many shelves. Introduce different size and colour pots for a serious wow factor!

Fancy learning some more? Head over to Sarah Raven's website for extra planting tips and tricks.

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