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Herb gardening: DIY at home!

Ah, spring—the season of rejuvenation, where nature awakens from its wintry slumber, painting the world in vibrant hues and filling the air with fragrant blossoms. In the UK, this time of year brings a delightful opportunity to cultivate a variety of herbs right in your own home.

From classic favourites like basil and thyme to more exotic varieties such as lemongrass and coriander, there’s a herb for every palate and every corner of your garden or windowsill. The best part? You don’t need a green thumb to get started!

Although growing your own can take time and patience, having them close to hand and being able to snip off just what you need when you need it, can save you money and reduce food and packaging waste. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, you can cultivate both flavour and wellness in your own home garden!

WHEN to plant your herbs

For all herbs, you can start from seeds, cuttings, nursery-bought plants after the last frost, or alternatively, you can start seeds indoors and then transplant them outdoors.1https://www.seedparade.co.uk/news/guides/growing-herbs/ Most herbs thrive in spring-summer time, but some can grow all year round, depending on whether they are perennial, biennial or annual plants.2https://www.rhs.org.uk/herbs/growing

Check out this UK herb planting calendar to give you a rough idea of when to sow, plant out and harvest.

WHAT plants can you grow together

Herbs with similar soil, water, and sunlight requirements are generally good companions.

HOW to start planting

Initially, water newly planted herbs or seeds regularly (two to three times per week or every 1-3 days) to establish roots. Once established, reduce watering accordingly (see chart below). If herbs are in containers, such as terracotta pots, they’ll need more watering than those planted directly in the garden bed.5https://www.cleanairgardening.com/watering-herbs-correctly/

Always use well-draining soil to prevent rotting of the roots by adding sand, perlite or grit. A neutral-to-alkaline soil (pH 6-8) works well for almost all varieties of herbs and make sure to add plenty of organic matter or compost.6https://www.theenglishgarden.co.uk/plants/fruits-vegetables-and-herbs/grow-herbs-in-pots/

Mulching, fertilisation and pest disease management are generally applicable to most herbs and it’s important to consider each herb’s specific needs and growing conditions to ensure optimal health and productivity.7https://www.rhs.org.uk/prevention-protection/preventing-pest-and-disease-problems Mulching particularly benefits herbs that prefer moist soil, such as peppermint and nettle. 8https://www.rhs.org.uk/soil-composts-mulches/mulch Fertilisation is generally beneficial for all herbs mentioned, but the frequency and type of fertiliser may vary.9https://www.rhs.org.uk/garden-jobs/fertilisers For example, aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender may benefit from a lean soil, while others like oregano and sage may appreciate occasional fertilisation. Organic pest control methods such as insecticidal soaps can be used to manage pests.10https://www.rhs.org.uk/prevention-protection/controlling-pests-and-diseases-without-chemicals

Watering and sun exposure

The best time to water plants is in the morning. Avoid overhead watering, aiming for the roots to prevent the leaves from burning.11https://www.cleanairgardening.com/watering-herbs-correctly/ Avoid overwatering and allow for adequate spacing and good air circulation to prevent fungal infections.12https://www.rhs.org.uk/prevention-protection/preventing-pest-and-disease-problems Make sure to reduce watering during the winter months.

Pruning and harvesting

During warmer summer, herbs can go to seed quickly, particularly parsley, basil and coriander.13https://westgold.com/nz/tips-and-tricks/the-best-herbs-to-plant-for-spring If your well-established herbs begin to flower, although pretty, it’s best to remove the flowers to encourage leaves to grow and lightly trim the stems to promote bushier growth.14https://westgold.com/nz/tips-and-tricks/the-best-herbs-to-plant-for-spring For harvesting, it is best to use sharp pruning shears to snip off the top 1/3 of the stems, leaving the remaining foliage intact for regrowth.

There are plenty of other herbs you can grow, such as dill, tarragon, fennel, lemon balm, and chives. Fragrant herbs add flavour to any meal and are at their best when they are freshly picked from the garden. Every time you cook, think of what delicious herbs you can add!

Check our 8 herbs for gut health + 6 creative ways to add them to your day for more ways to spice up your meals. Many of our favourite herbs discussed here can be found in our antimicrobial and therapeutic vinegars at our sister company, Ana’s Farmacy!

Happy growing! 🌱

Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm.

References

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