Real Men Sow

What My Patio Has Taught Me About Herbs


Sometimes, the days when you’re bored are the most dangerous…

Last weekend, with the plot sleeping for the winter and a bike ride done, I took to demolishing our old patio. We’d deliberated for a while and gone as far as getting quotes for the work, but then I had a brainwave.

‘I can do this. I’m a young (ish), strapping (ish) lad…’

So, now, I’m committed. And as well as smashing up hardcore, this means something else: moving my herbs.

My old patio has taught me a lot about herbs since I tidied it up a couple of years ago. I planted the borders out with my herbs and everything looked spiffing.

The idea was to have my herbs near the back door so we could just nip out and grab handfuls as and when they were required. Not having to troop down to the end of the garden in the winter was appealing, too.

This has worked well, and I’ve enjoyed impromptu herb use throughout the last year, chucking in exciting combos that have lifted simple dishes.

Herb Takeover!
However, it wasn’t long before certain herbs took over. Left to their own devices, some plants go mad. The spearmint went ballistic leading me to put it in a pot, and the sage I planted next door has grown to dominate the bed.

This has caused other herbs, such as the thyme and oregano, to die off under the cover of the more bully boy plants. So folks, the moral of the story here is don’t plant too close, especially when it comes to sage, mint, lemon balm and rosemary.

Rosemary From Cuttings
The rosemary is coming of age now, and this plant has taught me something else about herbs: they’re stubborn, hardy buggers. I have grown the rosemary from cuttings taken 3 years ago, and due to house moves and now the patio project, the plant is on its third relocation.

However, it seems more than happy to be transferred from pillar to post and is growing into a beautiful plant. Of all the GYO things we’ve done over the past few years, this is one I’m really proud of. Growing rosemary from cuttings is a relatively simple process, but seeing the plant thrive has filled me with satisfaction.

Moving the sage is looking a trickier prospect. Having dug the plant up today, I’ve been presented with one beast of a root. Initially, I was going to divide and replant by striking my spade through the root, but so far I’ve not been able to make so much of a dent.

Cuttings might be the way forward, as demonstrated to me in this tweet by Julia’s Veg. Either way, my herbs won’t be living in beds on the new patio. I might have to take a longer walk, but they’re going into my beds with plenty of room to grow out.

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  1. CeliaDecember 15, 2014 at 7:33 amReply

    I can recommend growing Sage from seed early next spring. Rescue your old plant by potting it in a large plant for use over winter, but it will always be woody. New sage plants from seed will soon grow into bushy plants if you nip out the tips (which of course can be used in cooking). And Sage allowed to flower is fantastic for attracting bees and other insects.

  2. JackieDecember 29, 2014 at 11:46 amReply

    Spontaneous gardening is the best. We’ve dug up several patios and a made pond this way. I hope you have fun replacing the patio.

  3. Silly Little SheepDecember 30, 2014 at 7:45 pmReply

    Great work, I look forward to seeing the finished new patio! :) You gave me an idea about grwing rosemary from cuttings next year :)

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About Real Men Sow

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, over a decade later, 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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