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Grow the Best - Herbs

The most popular herb nowadays, BasilIt's not just Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme as the song goes, in the home-chef generation we have seen more and more different herbs being grown for everyday use.

To grow the best herbs there are two key things to consider, grow herbs you use and if they don't do well don't give up try them again in a different spot. If you use Tarragon then grow that but if you only use it rarely rather buy it and grow the ones you use all the time. Often as with any food gardening exercise if you don't use it you lose interest and it all goes down to the compost heap.

Positioning of your herbs is important for success. Herbs need at least four hours of sun a day to do well. That said a pot of Basil on the windowsill used up in a week then dumped and replaced also works well but indoors like that you won't grow long term herbs successfully.

Here's our list of easy to grow and must have in the modern home chef's garden from the most popular nowadays Basil to Rocket

Some practical tips:
Herbs do well in the garden or in containers as long as they are in well drained soil. Use a specially formulated Herb Mix soil as it drains well and has a finer texture that regular potting soil when planning in containers.

When planting them in your sunny spot in the garden prepare the bed with loads of compost to improve the soil condition and add Bone Meal to give the young plants stronger roots. Dig over with a liberal application of BioGanic and once established feed with Bio Ganic or Nitrosol every six to eight weeks for the best results.

TIP: Using Organic fertilisers such as BioGanic, Nitrosol and Bio Ocean will result in herbs that have a stronger flavour and grow back sooner once harvested.

Basil:

Although we tend to associate basil with Italy and other Mediterranean countries, it actually originated in India, and was introduced to the Mediterranean via the spice routes in ancient times. Tulsi, as the herb is known in Hindi, means Sacred Basil. There are many varieties of basil but the one which is used in Italian food is typically called Sweet Basil.

Sweet Basil is easily grown from seed and can be planted straight into the garden, this time of the year it germinates in about five days. Grow basil in full sun to partial shade. Water sparingly and remove the flower spikes regularly - if these are allowed to mature, your plants will stop growing new leaves.

Rocket:

Rocket is a must in saladsEven though it was a Victorian favourite, belive it or not Rocket only became a popular herb in our gardens during the 80's. The delicious peppery taste of rocket makes it a wonderful addition to salads and stir fries. Grow rocket just as easily from seed or seedlings in semi-shade. If you let them come into flower they often self-seed and if you let them grow in a slightly drier spot the have a stronger taste.

Mint:

What is a Gin and Tonic without MintMint is a fast spreading ground cover herb, spreading underground with stems just under the surface of the ground. Above ground, plants produce upright stems about 30cm high. Most are hardy and all mints prefer a cool, moist spot in partial shade.

They will grow in full sun if well watered and the n they produce a tougher leaf with a stronger taste. To harvest snip leaves or sprigs as needed. In mid-summer cut stems close to the ground, add a layer of compost and feed with BioGanic and within a week or so there will be a fresh crop.

Oregano:

Look out for the HOT & SPICY OreganoLike most of the other Mediterranean herbs, Oregano grows best in a hot, dry and sunny spot where the soil is well drained. One can begin harvesting oregano when the plant is about 15cm high. The flavour is most intense just before the plant blooms. Used fresh Oregano is not as pungent as when used dry.

To dry your own hang it in small bunches upside down, or lay it on screens in a warm, dry place. Once the oregano has dried (the leaves will be crisp), remove the leaves from the stems and store them, whole, in a glass container. To preserve the essential oils, wait until just before using them to chop or crush them.

Traditional Oregano is still the most popular but as the new generation are looking for stronger tastes new varieties have been launched. Look out for the Hot & Spicy Oregano it's delicious!

Thyme:

There are many different varieties of Thyme#WaterWise and polinator friendly, Thyme is a creeping herb and is also a hardy ground cover or border plant in the garden bed. The tiny flowers it produces can be pink or lavender and it's their fragrance that attracts bees to the garden.

There are many different varieties of Thyme and all have different tastes. A tough perennial, Thyme grows best in full sun in well drained soil. The best are always left a bit on the dry side which also improves the taste and aroma.

Read more on growing summer Herbs and Veggies here.