Growing herbs

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Growing herbs is one of the easiest ways to get into gardening. It is also has to be one of the best money savers – rather than $3.50 on a bunch of herbs at the supermarket – PICK YOUR OWN, fresh and when you need them

So here are some top tips for growing herbs and “the must haves” for your garden……..

1. Group your herbs according to their watering and sun requirements. 

Mediterranean herbs are more water wise, LOVE full sun and are tolerant of most soil types (although they do need good drainage). This group of herbs includes; thyme, parsley, basil, dill, rosemary, sage, marjoram and oregano.

Where to grow: in the garden or a large pot. Rosemary and sage grow into rather nice looking small bushes – so they make nice feature plants in the garden or alone in a big pot. If you are using stone or terracota pots choose ones that are sealed so they don’t dry out too quickly.

When to plant: ALL YEAR ROUND for rosemary. SPRING/SUMMER for basil, thyme, sage, parsley, marjoram & oregano. AUTUMN/SPRING for dill and parsley.

Seeds or seedlings? SEEDLINGS are easiest for many of the mediterranean herbs. But SEEDS are a fast & easy way to start basil, dill and parsley (although parsley seeds can be slow to germinate!).

Asian herbs are a little more water hungry and tend to prefer part shade or at least protection of the hot afternoon sun.

This group of herbs includes; mint, Vietnamese mint, lemongrass and coriander.

Where to grow: in the garden or a pot. BEST to put mint into a pot as it will take over the garden! All these asian herbs work really well in self-watering pots – particularly Vietnamese mint which loves a very wet potting mix. Lemongrass needs a warmer, more tropical climate so people south of Sydney generally struggle to grow it!

Mint, vietnamese mint and coriander will do best in a spot protected from the hot afternoon sun or an area of semi-shade.

When to plant: Growing coriander from seed and in the cooler months will prevent it from bolting to seed. See my PREVIOUS post on coriander for more details.  Vietnamese mint and normal mint can be bought as seedlings in spring and planted out.

Seeds or seedlings? SEEDLINGS for mint & Vietnamese mint. SEEDS are best for coriander.

2. Grow what you’ll use! 

When choosing which herbs to plant, think about the food you cook regularly and those herbs you normally end up buying.

You don’t need 3 kinds of sage or 4 kinds of thyme! Start with your favourites first and then move onto experimenting. Although I must say I’m addicted to lemon thyme – perfect addition to any quiche or scrambled eggs! If you have the space go mad – after all the smell and colour of the different varieties are magnificent. And herbs are wonderful to grow amongst the rest of the plants in your garden – don’t just limit them to a herb bed.  If you’re limited for space, stick to your favs and those you know that you’ll use.

Snipping off leaves for use in the kitchen actually stimulates more growth of your herbs – so get cookin’…….

HINT – If you need to plant seedlings for that instant pick-a-bility. Sprinkle seeds of the same plant around your seedling for an extended harvest!

3. And the award goes to…..(well they are my favs anyway!)……

Easiest to grow: rosemary. Plant it once and watch it grow! This plant just keeps on going year after year. No need to replant annually.

Must have for summer:  basil. And lots of it! Once the weather cools down at the end of summer, start of autumn it will begin to go woody and miserable looking. Then it is time to pick any remaining leaves, make some basil pesto! And pull up your plants. You can buy perennial basil  (that survives the winters) but I don’t think it tastes as good as the sweet basil. 

Ultimate for Italian cooking: oregano. Freshly picked tastes a MILLION times better than the dried stuff you find in jars at the supermarket. 

Best for cooking something eggy, buttery or creamy: it’s between sage and thyme. Thyme is also common in a lot of French inspired cooking. 

If you love fish: dill. Super fresh and full of flavour, fresh dill is heavenly with salmon or trout. 

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The herbs I’ve mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes the range of herbs you can choose from! You can of course grow all (or most) herbs from seeds and even some from cuttings. But seedlings can be the easiest option for beginners for many of the herbs I’ve mentioned. 

Happy gardening!

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