Creating a herb garden

creating a herb garden

HERBS

A patio garden composed entirely of herbs may appeal to the home cook, since cooking can be rather dull without herbs and difficulty may be found in purchasing some of them. An interesting idea is to plant the herbs in the shape of an old cart wheel, making the spokes with gravel. If a large tub is used, the herbs can be planted in concentric rings. Suitable herbs include balm, chervil, chives, coriander, fennel, marjoram, parsley, sage, savory, tar­ragon and thyme. The dwarfer ones can be used as edging to beds or large tubs. When growing mint it is advisable to use a large pot so the roots do not run rampant everywhere.

A moderately rich soil is required for herbs since many are perennials and will not be moved. In raised beds incorporate plenty of organic matter. With herbs there is a mini­mum amount of essential work. Weak or dead shoots should be pruned out and a bush shape maintained with woody perennials. Camomile is often used to make a fragrant lawn, so try it as an edging plant, taking care that it does not take over the whole bed.

Chives are one of the best herbs to grow. Their mild onion flavour adds interest to salads and soups, and to the gardener it is ideal for edging. Either grow from spring-sown seeds, or by root division, splitting them into small pieces.

Coriander is an annual, the leaves of which are used for flavouring soups, and the seeds used in stews or curries. Seed is sown in place in April, and thinned to 15cm/6in apart.

Lavender is grown for its dried flowers and the dwarf growing species should be planted in April, or propagated from cuttings in July, and used either for edging or in clumps.

Marjoram is used for various culinary pur­poses from brewing home-made beer to flavouring stews and soups. Dry leaves make a refreshing tea. It is a half hardy perennial, so should be treated as an annual except in warm areas. Sow indoors in February and plant out 23cm/9in apart in May.

Parsley garnishes many dishes including fish and soups, and is reputed to be excellent for indigestion, kidney ailments and rheuma­tism. Legend has it that it only grows for a woman if she wears the trousers in the family! It can be grown as a biennial or perennial, but to maintain supplies sow fresh seed every July. Suitable strains include Moss Curled, Bravour, Plain and parsnip-rooted Hamburg.

Thyme can be used as a herb and also for ground cover. The upright forms (T. nitidus) are used with sage for stuffings and flavouring meats, and bees frequent thyme flowers thus it is invaluable for the apiarist. It can be propagated from heel cuttings in June/July.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.