Real Men Sow

Creating a Herb Garden

Speaking of herbs, if you haven’t got a herb garden at home or on the allotment, now’s an excellent time to start planning one. Sunny, sheltered areas are best, and if you’re growing in the garden, consider positioning the bed near to the back door. Herbs are very decorative, and make a lovely view out of a kitchen window.

What’s more, no one enjoys walking to the end of the garden in the middle of winter for a handful of sage leaves.

Pleasant Fragrance and Growing in Pots
Herbs have a very pleasant fragrance too, so having a bench in or around them is rather agreeable. My herb garden borders the patio (pictured, above), and I really enjoy spending time sat out there in the summer, cold drink in hand. I’ve currently got mints, tarragon, sage, rosemary, thyme, fennel, oregano, lemon balm and chive in the bed, which make for a heady combo of aromas, especially just after a rain shower.

If you’re short on space, herbs can easily be grown in pots, and I’ve seen others create very attractive hanging baskets and window boxes in courtyard gardens.

Check Their Final Size!
Some research is worthwhile though, particularly with regards to spread and height of plants. Sage and rosemary can grow very big, whilst mint is an absolute hooligan and will root itself all over a bed within a season. In fact, I’ve just found this out to my cost, and had to dig up and pot my voracious spearmint before it consumed the rest of the herbs in a flurry of stifling menthol madness.

Lemon balm is another herb to watch out for. It doesn’t take over the bed in quite the way mint does, but the plant will self seed. My current plant was an escapee I dug up from a friend’s garden which is now coming along very nicely in my own bed.

Creating a Bed on the Cheap
Thrifty is definitely a theme with herbs, and one of the best things about starting a herb garden is that it can be done for next to nothing. I’d wager that once you get chatting to fellow gardeners or allotment holders, they’d be more than happy to share some common herbs with you.

For example, mint is easily dug up and divided, as is sage, tarragon and marjoram. Rosemary can be found all over the place, and will grow well from a cutting, especially if planted with a touch of rooting powder.

Being a perennial, fennel is also a good herb to grow. Grow or buy once and it’ll keep coming back every year.

Decorative Beds
I also love how herb gardens become decorative. I’ve tried to turn mine into a rockery, but some people are much more ambitious. As it happens, my favourite herb garden is my mum’s. She’s planted her herbs around a big old wooden rudder that we pulled out of the river.

Dad and I yanked the old relic from the famously smelly Essex mud about 5 years ago, after mum declared that was what she wanted for Christmas. We got a few strange looks, covered in the black stuff, huffing and puffing over what to most was a rotten old lump of timber.

However, even during the scarcity of winter I think you’ll agree that it’s a lot more than that, and makes for a gorgeous backdrop to a herb garden.

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4 Comments

  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!January 5, 2013 at 1:26 pmReply

    Growing the herbs as close to the kitchen door as possible is key. Mine are scattered throughout the garden, and that has caused me to skip the herbs on more than a couple meal preparations.

    I’m definitely potting up a large herb planter on the deck this year.

    (What exactly do you use lemon balm for? I just enjoy the smell of mine in the garden, but it must have other uses.)

  2. Jono

    JonoJanuary 5, 2013 at 10:28 pmReplyAuthor

    Well, I don’t know! I have nibbled leaves from the plant to see if they taste lemony, and they kind of do. I just love the smell.

    I’m told you can use them in tea, but I’m that much of a herbal tea man.

    This is kinda interesting: http://ruth-jenner.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/lemon-balm-cheesecake.html

  3. wellywomanJanuary 6, 2013 at 4:12 pmReply

    I overwinter my herbs in the cold frame or greenhouse. Most of them really don’t like the wet winters we get in Wales and I’ve found putting them in pots for the winter and then planting out again in spring in my old tin baths works well. A bit time consuming but I’ve lost so many herbs over the years.

  4. Jono

    JonoJanuary 6, 2013 at 8:09 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey Wellywoman,

    Its heartbreaking losing a herb plant, isn’t it?

    I think the transplanting is worth the effort.

    I bet they look great in old tin baths.

    We’re very lucky weather wise in this corner of the country. The weather is very mild generally. We’ve had a lot more rain this year, although the Welsh guy in my office takes the mickey out of our reaction to it!

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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