How to grow herbs

Growing fresh garden herbs from beds, containers or grow-bags is great fun and much better than buying poorer-quality, expensive supermarket herbs.

Herbs such as basil, coriander, mint, sage and parsley are easy to grow, and even new home-growers can create a healthy and continuous crop for a variety of popular dishes and flavourings.

Herbs can be grown from seeds or plants.

When to grow seeds

Most herb plants and seeds should be planted in spring time or later, depending on the variety and soil and weather conditions.

Herbs can be ready for collecting and using in the kitchen for several months of the year, providing they are looked after well.

Plant at different times to ensure a good spread of herbs to harvest at different times.

Where to grow herbs

Herbs will generally grow in good quality compost, but most aren’t too fussy and can tolerate poorer soils with fewer nutrients.

  • Herbs that particularly like sunny and warm conditions include thyme, basil and rosemary.
  • Some herbs can thrive in a part shady environment, such as sage and mint.

How to grow herb seeds

In a greenhouse, poly tunnel or cold frame, some herbs can be sown in trays around February to early April, before replanting outside in larger containers, sacks or beds.

These can include basil and parsley and check seed planting instructions on packets for each.

In spring when soil’s warmer, seeds can be sown directly into beds or containers and grow-bags.

Follow instructions as per each herb and keep well-watered – you can even cover with horticultural fleece, if needed, for protection.

How to grow herb plants

Growing herbs from young plants, called plugs, is more popular than growing from seeds.

Plug plants may need to be potted inside in small individual cells or trays first, before being replanted in their final growing position after they have established.

Always harden off indoor plants first before outdoor planting. Do this by leaving them outside during the day in spring, then returning inside to protect from the night-time chill.

  • When plug plants are ready for outdoor planting, give the soil a rake over to get a good texture.
  • Gently loosen herbs from their pot or tray and only handle at the leaves and root-ball, not the delicate stem.
  • Make a hole in the soil big enough to accept the roots and plant so the root-ball is a little below the surface.
  • Firm in the soil and water.

Keep picking mature leaves when they’re ready to ensure a good-growing crop and to give space for new shoots to thrive in beds, containers and bags.

Some plug plant herbs will be ready in days, while others need a few weeks, so keep monitoring and picking when needed.