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Growing herbs: or it’s just not a kitchen garden

I think herbs were one of the first “food” things I grew… I may be wrong but I suspect it was. Either way, I now hate having to rely on dried herbs, I’d much rather go chop a big handful of the real stuff for cooking. My two absolute favourites are basil and French tarragon.

Herbs are super easy to grow, I may be using the wrong expression here but I think it’s accurate. They grow like bloody weeds, and trust me, if you put them in a bed rather than a pot, you may curse them like weeds!

I have pretty much taken the whole herb growing thing for granted and it was only this year when asked for advice that I realised, as always, I have learned a lot of this through trial and error and so I maybe should take it for granted that other people don’t feel growing herbs is a daunting task. So let’s do what we all do best, let’s go on a growing adventure together and you can all share your gorgeous herb beds with us over on Instagram when the time comes (@kitchengardenwithelikate).

This was our very first herb planter, way back 🙂 We bought these all as baby plants from our local garden centre (Pentland Plants) and we didn’t go overly exciting, we stuck with the things we used in the kitchen. What you may notice though, is the lack of basil or tarragon.

Lessons learned number one: not everything is happy to grow in our outdoor climate here in Scotland and not everything is happy in the same soil.

Rosemary & Thyme (couldn’t resist), Parsley, Chives, Sage, Oregano and one spring of Tarragon

Basil was the first “fail” for us. We tried growing it three times and each time it died. Eventually, we moved it to the kitchen windowsill where it didn’t die. What did happen however was it got really leggy and looked annemic. But that’s a whole blog post for once you have basil growing 🙂

A bit of research later and we learned about the different climates our herbs come from and how even though we may use them in cooking, we can’t necessarily grow them in our garden. I found the same with tarragon, it was really difficult to get going (from seed).

One of the other lessons we learned early was that not all herbs grow the same way, or at the same rate. We started off with mint in that planter. Let me tell you, that got moved fast. Mint is one of those plants that grow like mad and mug everything else so it got moved to a pot to contain it.

Other than the aforementioned issues, that planter worked a treat and our herbs did really well. And then we fiddled… alas!!!!! We decided we wanted to use the planter for something else and that we would put the herbs on the fence in really cute, little, colourful pots. Yeah… didn’t work. Everything died. Sigh. Problem was that the pots were too small, and the angle they hung on the fence meant water ran off the soil before it had the chance to properly get to the roots. Not a complete loss though… those pots now house alpines 🙂

These days, we have a mix. The basil and tarragon grow happily in the greenhouse and others are outdoors. I tried last year having it all in the greenhouse and had the opposite problem, everything grew too well and took over LOL

Sorrel, Thyme, Basil, Chives, Parsley and Oregano

So armed with my experiences, are you ready to get growing your own herb garden?

Let’s get growing

OK let’s sow our herb seeds and get growing together. I’ll do posts at appropriate times about transferring to pots or the herb bed etc and how to look after them.

So this is what I grow, so I know it does ok in the UK and I’ve added when I find it’s a good harvest time.

HerbWateringSunWhen to sowWhen to harvest
BasilModerateFull sunMarch-AprilMay-September
ChivesLowFull sunMarch-MayJune-November
DillLoadsFull SunMarch – JulyJune-September
MarjoramLowFull sunMarch-MayJuly-October
MintModeratePartial shadeMarch to JulyMay-October
OreganoLowFull sunMarch – AprilJune-September
ParsleyLoadsPartial shadeMarch – JulyMay-November
RosemaryModerateFull sunMarch-MayJuly-October
SageLowFull sunMarch-MayJune-October
TarragonModerateFull sunMarch-MayJune-September
ThymeLowFull sunMarch – AprilJune-October

So let’s sow those seeds

Ok, you do not need to do anything fancy when sowing your herbs. Simply:

  • fill your tray with compost,
  • give it a good water,
  • sprinkle your seeds onto the compost as evenly as you can,
  • Cover with a think layer of compost
  • leave somewhere warm and bright to germinate, and,
  • keep the soil moist, not wet but don’t let it dry out either.

So this is where we are at just now. I did mine about 2 or 2 and a bit weeks ago and I’m still looking at soil pretty much, so you have plenty of time to catch up.

I looked just now, excitement, I have ONE tiny basil seedling.

So come on then, go get your herbs sown and we’ll grow together… I’ll check back with updates on how to thin them out, pot them on etc when the time is right.

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