There's nothing like the taste of herbs picked fresh from your own garden! Herbs are incredibly easy to grow, whether in beds, borders, containers or on windowsills. Also, many herbs can be grown all the year round and will save you buying expensive supermarket produce.
Here are all the tips and tricks you need to take your kitchen garden to the next level...
Ideally, herbs should be grown in a sunny, sheltered location with well-drained soil. If you have heavy clay soil then incorporate some coarse grit and organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste to improve drainage.
The best soil pH for growing herbs is neutral to alkaline although most herbs will tolerate a slightly acid soil. If you have very acidic soil then add some lime when preparing the planting area.
Herbs such as, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lavender are useful for coastal gardens. Admittedly, most herbs prefer a sunny position, however, there are a few which will happily grow in shady conditions and moist soil, such as Parsley, Mint, Lemon Balm and Chive.
Herbs can be grown outside in a dedicated herb garden, a raised bed, a vegetable plot or even amongst the flowers in your borders. Herbs come in an array of different foliage and flower colours so they can be both decorative and useful for culinary purposes.
Herbs grown in a dedicated herb garden makes harvesting easier and will create a rich scent on hot sunny days. However, herbs also make a great addition to flower beds and borders if you don't have space. Use herbs with colourful leaves to offset flower colours or to provide different textures throughout the bed. How about using low-growing herbs such as Chive and Thyme as an informal edge to a path?
Growing herbs in pots and containers is an excellent way to grow fresh produce if space is limited. How about placing them outside your back door for easy harvesting when cooking?
Remember to choose relatively deep pots, especially for large shrubby herbs such as Rosemary. Feed your pot-grown herbs regularly with a balanced fertiliser throughout the growing season - but, over-feeding can cause the leaves to lose their pungent flavour so don't be too generous.
It's vital your container has drainage holes and is raised up to prevent water logging in the Winter. It is also worth protecting pots in severe icy weather by placing them against a house wall and/or wrapping the pot in bubble wrap.
It is convenient to grow herbs indoors as it means easy harvesting and you can grow them if you don't have a garden! It also extends the season for annual herbs so you will have fresh produce all year round.
Suitable herbs to grow indoors on the windowsill include Chive, Parsley, Basil, Coriander, Dill and Mint. These types of herbs can be treated as cut-and-come-again crops, harvesting regularly to encourage new growth.
Herbs are relatively low maintenance unless they are growing in containers where they will require routine watering and feeding. Trimming herbs in the Spring will encourage a flush of new healthy leaves. It's also best to deadhead your herbs as the flowers start to fade to channel their energy into leaf growth.