Creating a herb garden
Herbs are some of my absolute favourite plants to grow. They are easy to look after, grow prolifically, and make home-cooked meals taste a thousand times more delicious. What’s not to like?
When creating a herb garden, I would suggest placing it as close to the house as possible. My herb garden is outside the front door, where I can nip out to cut a bunch while I am cooking dinner. Herbs are best used fresh, after all – and what can be fresher than from the earth to the pot in five seconds flat?
Before planning your garden, think carefully about the kind of herbs you are likely to use. There is little point in cultivating lemongrass if you are never going to cook with it! Also, consider the placement of your annual and perennial herbs – you will want to give your perennials enough room to spread out as your herb garden becomes established.
Here are a few of the herbs that I have in my garden, to give you some ideas:
- MINT: I use this endlessly in potato salads, Indian chutneys and iced drinks. It is notorious for growing like crazy, so if you want to keep it in check, try planting it in a sunken container. You can get all sorts of varieties – and they are fun to browse at a garden centre. I have some chocolate mint and it truly smells like fancy after-dinner mints!
- ROSEMARY: Easy to grow, its tall green-needled stems and pretty blue flowers really add to the texture and colour of a herb border. I planted it at the back of my herb garden for height. I always chuck in a few stems of rosemary when roasting vegetables – and when boiled with potatoes it makes for a delicately savoury mash.
- THYME: Low-growing clumps of thyme are best planted around the edges of a herb garden, so that they are not overwhelmed by the other herbs. Their tiny lilac flowers are incredibly attractive, too. I rip off stems and simmer them in sauces to give a lovely fragrant flavour.
- PARSLEY: This is an annual, although I have successfully over-wintered it during warm winters. I keep a little bit outside my front door for emergency cooking, but the rest I grow down at the allotment, at the edge of vegetable borders. It is perfect in a white sauce for fish pie – and I also really like it mixed with cheese, chopped peppers and mashed potato, and baked in potato skins. There is nothing like parsley for making a meal taste fresh!
- CHIVES: These tiny alliums, snipped into salads, give a wonderfully oniony flavour. Their bristly purple flowers look really showy in a herb garden. Plant them close to the edge of the border – perhaps behind the thyme – so that they can be seen in all their glory.
What herbs do you grow? Do let us know!