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How to grow herbs

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Difficulty rating: Low

Growing your own herbs outdoors should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience.

When to plant:

The best time to grow your own herbs is between March and August.

Step 1. Choose your herbs

To get the most from your planting, pick a variety of herbs. Here are a few herbs that are particularly easy to grow: Sweet marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Common basil, Lime basil, Sage and Oregano.

Shop all Herb seeds

Step 2. Decide on the location for growing herbs

  • Different herbs require different condition to really get growing, and while some love the sun others prefer shade.
  • For herb pots or window boxes on the sunny side of your house, Chives, Oregano and Lemon thyme will flourish, whereas Wild Rocket, chervil, French parsley and red mustard prefer a shadier location.
  • If you’re planting a herb garden it should be sited on well-drained soil, but if you want to contain them and keep your garden nice and neat, try planting them in a pot and placing it in the ground.
Potted herb plant
Herbs planted in soil
Potted herbs in garden

Step 3. Plant your herbs the right way

When it comes to planting your herbs, there are different techniques depending on their intended location. Make sure you plant them the right way.

In a pot...

You’ll need a large pot with holes in the bottom for drainage, some gravel, compost, control release fertiliser and a watering can. Take your pot and pour gravel in to a ¼ of the depth of the pot as this will help water to drain out, and then Fill the pot with multi purpose or soil based compost to ¾ of the pot’s remaining depth (for its water retention properties a soil-based compost is best for pots and window boxes).

After squeezing the plants from their pots and teasing the roots from the root balls to encourage them to search out, place the plants in the large pot leaving 15 cms between each stem. Place taller plants at the centre of the pot and trailing herbs near the edge to ensure best growth, leave about 2 cms between the outer plants and the edge of the pot. Fill in any gaps between the plants with compost, pushing it deep down with your fingers and leaving couple of centimetres between the pot rim and compost so it doesn’t overflow when watered.

Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser – push 3-5 pellets into the soil with your fingers and this should last the whole season. Water thoroughly until the water drains from the bottom of the pot (expect to add about 4 litres) and then continue to water over the coming months or when the soil seems dry, in hot weather it’s best to water daily.

In a window box...

If you are planting a window box on the sunny side of your house try Chives, Oregano and Lemon thyme, but if it’s on the shady side try wild rocket, French parsley or red mustard. Only use soil based compost as this is best for water retention, water regularly and feed each week from March to September.

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Step 4. Or prepare & plant a herb garden

  • A herb garden should be sited on fine, well-drained soil, so if your soil need a little improvement simply add fertiliser and dig in plenty of organic matter.
  • Next you’ll need to plan your herb garden layout by using string to mark out the lines along which you’ll plant your herbs, then begin planting your herb garden when you’re ready.
  • If you’re worried that some of your herbs might grow a bit unpredictably, keep these under control by planting in pots then placing the pots in the ground.
  • You can also make your herb garden even more colourful and fragrant with the additions of lavender and marigolds, or lay some paving and add a few ornaments

Step 5. Keep growing a good supply of herbs

  • Cut the tops off the taller plants, halving them in height, this will encourage the plants to bush out and provide more leaves to pick.
  • Another way to ensure a consistent crop of herbs is to plant herbs in intervals so they yield leaves and blossoms at different times.

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