5 Great Tips To Grow Better Herbs From Rachel de Thame
As all experienced gardeners will know, growing herbs look so simple but in reality it’s not so easy. They can become very difficult to maintain and flourish. In this article, Rachel de Thame, the gardener and television presenter, shares her wisdom on how to grow better herbs.
I always wondered why my lavenders wouldn’t thrive. After reading this article, I understand why, it’s because i’ve got wrong soil for my Lavender.
With all these fantastic tips, I now feel very confident and growing my beautiful lavenders is so easy!
Follow her 5 great tips below to grow your favorite herbs today!
1. What are your favourite summer herbs to grow?
‘I try and grow a wide selection of herbs, but the essentials include rosemary, flat-leaf parsley, thyme, sage and a variety of mints. Herbs make a wonderful aromatic addition to a posy of cut flowers’.
2. What are the golden rules for herb growing novices?
‘Most herbs fall into two types: Woody, sun-loving Mediterranean herbs, including thyme, rosemary and lavender have shrubby growth, which often benefits from an annual trim. Requiring sharply drained soil to thrive, they hate to sit in cold soggy ground, so incorporate plenty of sharp sand or horticultural grit into the area to be planted, particularly if your garden has heavy clay soil.
On the plus side, they rarely require irrigation after the initial post-planting watering-in.‘Other herbs, such as coriander and parsley, have softer leafy growth. They may benefit from a bit of shade and regular watering in dry weather.
I grow basil in the greenhouse, where it thrives alongside the tomatoes it’s so often partnered with in delicious salads, sauces and atop a homemade pizza. As a general rule, pick herbs little and often, as and when you need them. The aromatic fragrances and flavours are at their most potent when freshly harvested’.
3. Are there any rookie errors we should avoid like the plague?
‘Never plant mint directly into the garden soil, unless you have room for it to take over. Mints are extremely vigorous growers, which quickly spread and are then difficult to get rid of if they outgrow their allotted space. Either plant them singly in generous decorative containers, or – if you want to mix them in with other herbs – keep them in their plastic pot and plunge them, pot-and-all into the soil’.
4. We’re feeling confident…what’s one tricky herb we can progress to and why is it notoriously difficult to maintain?
‘The softer herbs – such as coriander – are more challenging to sustain over a long period. One spell of hot weather and they put on a growth spurt, flower and go over. The answer is to sow the seed little and often to stagger the time at which they reach maturity and ensure you still have a supply after a heatwave. Growing coriander in a part of the garden with a bit of shade will also help’.
5. It’s a hot summer’s evening…how do you use your herbs to create the perfect quick supper?
‘I love to incorporate herbs into a green summer salad. This might include generous quantities of coriander, parsley, tarragon, and chives, with a base of chopped baby gem lettuce, rocket – for a peppery punch – sliced cucumber and avocado. Sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and dress with a light vinaigrette dressing to allow the aroma and flavours of the herbs to come through’. Now let your skin get its herbal fix.