Our Favourite Herbs to grow
We've all heard the famous song lyrics: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme which are all time favourite herbs to grow. Fresh herbs add flavour are healthier and are easy to use in the kitchen. Besides that the smell in the garden adds a new dimension as it fills the senses and of course many herbs are pollinator friendly which makes the environmentally friendly too.
When growing 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. 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 indoors.
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 BioRock to give the young plants stronger roots. Dig over with a liberal application of BioGanic and once established feed with BioOcean or Nourish Leafy greens every six to eight weeks for the best results.
TIP: Organic fertiliser will result in herbs that have a stronger flavour and grow back sooner once harvested.
Like 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 out 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!
#WaterWise and Bee 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
Rosemary is for remembrance in the meanings of plants. A hardy evergreen small shrub that grows best in a full sun hot spot with well drained soil. Extremely versatile there are different varieties each with its own pungent strength. Planted as a hedge or border the work well to add as a backdrop to your veggie garden especially as Rosemary is a very good companion plant. Plant rosemary near carrots, cabbages to chase bugs and Rosemary will also deter a lot of bean parasites.
Look out for traditional blue flowering Rosemary that grows as a sprawling small shrub or the Tuscan Rosemary which is more upright and has a strong aroma. Relatively new on the market is Ginger Rosemary with its ginger fragrance mixed in and a taste of a ginger burn on the tongue.
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. 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.
Mint 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.