Why should I grow my own herbs?
Herbs are high-value crops that are cheap and easy to grow. You don’t even need a garden – your kitchen windowsill is a great place to start. Imagine picking fresh basil leaves while you’re cooking! If you don’t have the time or space to sow herb seeds, simply order a selection of garden ready plants.
As well as being ornamental edibles, herbs are perfect for pollinators. Perennial evergreen herbs, like rosemary and thyme, are a lovely way to add structure and character to your garden.
Can I grow herbs in containers?
The best way to grow most annual herbs is in containers. Whether you choose decorative pots, hanging baskets, window boxes or veg trugs, position them close to your kitchen door for easy pickings. If growing your herbs in pots, feed and water them regularly but make sure they have adequate drainage holes.
Can I plant herbs in the ground?
You can grow herbs in the ground, provided you choose the right position and meet their soil requirements. Create a dedicated herb patch, plant them in a raised bed, or add them to your flower borders, cottage garden style.
Many herbs come from dry, arid environments, and they usually prefer free-draining soil. To keep them healthy, clip new growth regularly. Some herbs, like mint, are best grown in pots as they have a vigorous growing habit and quickly spread if not contained.
What are the most popular herbs to grow in the UK?
- Parsley – One of the most popular herbs to use in the kitchen, parsley is ideal for salads or garnishes.
- Dill – Sow this strongly flavoured herb outdoors in May, and enjoy freshly harvested dill all summer! A hardy annual, dill looks great in a kitchen garden or in a flower border. Ideal for soups, sauces & stews.
- Rosemary – Rosemary is a fragrant, hardy perennial herb that can be used all year round. Plant both annual and tender varieties outdoors in May. Ideal for flavouring stews, meat, and fish dishes.
- Basil – A popular herb that thrives in dry, warm spots, you can even grow basil on your windowsill. Harvest throughout summer to autumn. Ideal for pasta dishes, pizzas and Thai cooking.
- Coriander – Easy to grow, coriander is perfect for Thai food, poultry stuffing or pickles. Try lemon coriander in salads and stir-fries.
- Mint – One of the best herbs for attracting pollinators to your garden. Grow mint in pots or containers and harvest from July-October. Ideal for subtly enhancing veg such as peas, potatoes and carrots.
- Oregano – An attractive, bushy plant, oregano makes a fantastic statement in your garden. With Mediterranean origins, sow oregano in full sun with good drainage. Ideal for flavouring meat dishes, omelettes, or pizza.
- Thyme – A kitchen garden essential, thyme can be grown successfully outdoors in pots, or in windowsill containers. Can be harvested between March-November. Ideal in stews and casserole dishes.
When to pick fresh herbs
Herbs should be picked when the oils responsible for flavour and aroma are at their peak, but don’t begin harvesting until the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. Try not to pick more than a third, and give the plant time to recover. For best results, harvest early in the morning, after the dew dries, but before the heat of the day.
How to dry herbs for future use
To dry herbs, hang bunches of about ten stems upside down in a warm dark place.
Once dried, remove the leaves and store them in an air-tight container.
Can I freeze herbs?
Freezing herbs is one of the easiest ways to preserve your crop for much longer! Freezing is great for fast-growing herbs like coriander and parsley. You can freeze whole springs, or chop them first. Spread your herbs loosely onto a baking sheet to freeze, before transferring to a ziplock bag or container. Alternatively, place generous pinches of herbs in water-filled ice cube trays and freeze.
Can I overwinter my herbs?
Ideally, move your herb plants into a greenhouse as soon as the mercury dips. When winter arrives, quite a few annual herbs start to die back, such as tarragon and mint. If you don’t have a greenhouse, move your outdoor herbs to a sheltered place where they won’t be damaged by frost, or become too wet or too dry. If the weather becomes very cold and frosty, protect your containers from freezing and cracking by wrapping them in fleece or bubble wrap. Tender herbs like basil need to be brought indoors into a warm conservatory or sunny windowsill over the winter period.