How to... grow herbs
If you’re new to gardening, herbs are a great way to start. You can grow them with very little space, in pots, window boxes or growbags, and keep cutting and coming back all season. A good trick for planting seeds is to cut a loo roll tube into 5cm (2 inch) sections, place in a tray and fill each one with compost – instant modules. Many herbs can be sown in April and kept in a sheltered spot to protect from frost, or even inside the house. Plant out or pot up seedlings in May, either into a bed or large pot.
There are few things in life as good as herbs, grown by yourself at home, and having them to hand can really step up your cooking. Here is a quick guide to some of our favourites and how to get growing!
BASIL – FROM SEED
Everyone loves basil – Ollie, our Group Head Kitchen Gardener loves it so much that it’s his son’s middle name. Sow seeds in spring and pot out in May into rich, composty soil. Keep well-watered and fed. Make sure you nip out the leaves at the top to encourage it to bush out. Keep harvesting and it should get you through the whole summer. Perfect for home-made pesto!
ROSEMARY – FROM CUTTINGS
Plant in spring. Don’t let it get too leggy – keep harvesting throughout the summer but don’t cut into the woody growth. Rosemary is a perennial, so it will survive the winter, and it tolerates dry soil so it doesn’t need too much watering. We love using rosemary as a garnish for a cocktail or to infuse vodka!
MINT – FROM CUTTINGS
Another easy one. Keep it in a pot, though, or it’ll take over your garden. It’s perennial – it dies back in winter and grows back from its roots in spring. We have 20 varieties at THE PIGs. We especially like apple mint, which we use in our signature mocktail. Make your own Applemint mocktail.
CORIANDER – FROM SEED
Follow the same drill as basil. Once frost has passed, pot out in May. As with all these herbs, cut and it’ll come back, but make sure you leave a bit of new growth and some stems at the base of the plant.
LEMON VERBENA – FROM CUTTINGS
A lovely, fragrant plant, it grows similarly to rosemary. Keep cutting throughout the summer by nipping off soft growth. It’s perennial, so should survive the winter, but bring inside if it’s very frosty. Why not try our Lemon and Lime Basil Posset with Lemon Verbena?
WINTER SAVORY – FROM CUTTINGS
This is one of our favourites, but it’s not quite as easily available – you’ll have to buy it online or from a good nursery. Follow the same planting advice as for rosemary; it’s also a perennial and you can keep cutting all year as long as you don’t go too hard on it in the winter. It’s one of the oldest cultivated herbs, used by the Romans and ancient Egyptians. Once you have it, it is very easy to grow and a handy alternative to thyme as it survives snow and frost. It has a strong, peppery flavour that goes well with meats.