We all love growing herbs, right? Yes! There is nothing better than popping outside to grab some fresh Basil for a salad, Chives for your baked eggs or Rosemary for your roast potatoes! So much nicer than those limp bunches of herbs which are so overpriced in the big supermarkets.
The collage attached is my own herb garden that I am getting back up to date after a lazy winter spell. My Oregano is loving the little bursts of sun it has been getting recently, the Thyme is coming along having just sprinkled some seed in the pot the other week and my Chives never seem to go anywhere, they love life! I do need to pop my Parsley in some higher quality organic potting mix to get it going(a friends Mother sent me a bunch of her Parsley seeds in the post, what a great little gift). Not pictured are my Rosemary, Mint and Sage.
In this other photo we can see a cute little terracotta pot packed full of delicious herbs with sweet tags written in chalk. Isn’t is cute? NO! This is the worst environment for growing herbs and is a little known pet hate of mine. What we need to know in order to successfully grow all these delicacies is that they have different growing requirements – Mint loves damp and shady conditions, Coriander thrives in Autumn (as it won’t bolt to seed over the Winter months) and Thyme and Oregano will eventually get woody. Also, it’s important to remember that your herbs will not last forever!
When growing herbs in pots try not to place them directly on concrete as this gets quite hot and will heat your pot up too. Try placing the pot on some bricks so avoid the direct contact with the ground and also to aid drainage.
I want to concentrate on Coriander and Basil, so let’s think about when and how.
Coriander – A lot of people find their Coriander will “bolt”, that is, it grows flowers and seeds rather than providing you with what you want. Once this happens the leaves will lose their flavour, however, you can salvage the seeds and grind them up for some cooking should this happen. So never just dispose of it! Coriander is very much like that needy loved one – tell it each and every day how much you love it and how you can’t live without it.
- Try sowing seeds in Autumn and allow seedlings to grow over Winter. Keep them undercover or inside in a light spot to avoid the frost. You may read otherwise, but the warmer the weather gets the quicker it will bolt – so this is a good way to extend its growing cycle.
- Sow the seeds directly in to a large pot (Coriander can bolt if transplanted) if the ground is not an option. Small pots may look lovely on a window sill, but it doesn’t provide the depth for the plants to establish and they can entangle themselves and die a brutal brutal death. Sprinkle the seeds on to the surface and then lightly sprinkle around 1cm of potting mix over them. Bear in mind that each seed will produce two plants.
- Use a quality potting mix, don’t scrimp on a budget mix. Premium veggie mixes should also contain slow release fertilisers, which will keep your Coriander healthy.
- Once they are more established you can move them in to a sunnier spot to help them grow quicker.
- Mulch them once the weather starts getting warmer as you need to keep the potting mix nice and cool for them. Try a pea straw or sugar cane mulch.
- Keep plants well watered if they’re not getting rained on. In cooler months try for twice a week.
- Keep feeding your Coriander! Once established, consider giving it a feed each month with some Charlie Carp.
- Pick of the leaves as they sprout, this will encourage new growth.
Once you get the hang of it all, you might then think about getting into some succession planting (perhaps this is another blog post?!)…
I too am going to get some Coriander seeds soon and try this out. It’s not too hot yet, I will post some photos and keep you updated.
Basil – Quite simply one of the most fantastic flavours to come out of the garden and THE best combo with home grown tomatoes in Summer. Like Coriander, Basil is an annual, so don’t expect a huge life span out of it, but thankfully, it is not as sensitive and needy as our good friend Coriander.
- Basil loves warm soil and can be quick to sprout. So try waiting until the last of Winter has really disappeared.
- Sow the seeds directly in to a large pot if the ground is not an option. Sprinkle the seeds on to the surface and then lightly sprinkle around 1cm of potting mix over them.
- Use a quality potting mix, don’t scrimp on a budget mix. Premium veggie mixes should also contain slow release fertilisers, which will keep your Basil healthy.
- Ensure seedlings get a good dose of sunshine each day. Basil loves the sun.
- If it’s a hot summer, mulch the Basil in to help regulate the soil temperature and retain moisture.
- Keep your Basil well watered, but make sure any pots you use have nice big drainage holes. In Summer give it a water each day.
- Keep feeding your Basil! Once established, consider giving it a feed each month with some Charlie Carp.
- Pick flower heads off as they appear, this will encourage new leaf growth and increase the life span.
- Pick leaves off regularly to ensure more growth.
I hope this helps and I do post some photos of your herbal conquests!