Go Organic: Make thyme for herbs in your gardenBy James Ashford
May 14, 2012
I’m having a bit of a revamp of my back garden and one of the top priorities is to sort out a space for some herbs.
One of the many things you learn as you get older is that the best place to grow herbs is close to the kitchen.
I’ve had many a weary tramp down to the allotment and back to pick the handful of parsley or sage which I forgot to fetch for Sunday dinner.
As a rule herbs like a fairly light, free-draining soil which is just what I have at the allotment.
But although the house is less than 500 metres away as the crow flies, the soil in my back garden couldn’t be more different.
It is horrible, heavy, sticky clay – the worst sort of ground to try and grow herbs in.
The good news is that because I’m only planning to use a couple of square metres I should be able to dig in enough bulky organic material to make a real difference to the structure of the soil.
The bad news is that with all the rain we’ve had in the last six weeks the clay is sodden and it is going to be very hard work.
It will be worth it in the end.
Abundant fresh herbs are a real joy for enthusiastic cooks.
A herb garden will benefit from a bit of forward planning.
Some herbs like mint can be invasive thugs and should be confined to stop them spreading.
Some, like rosemary, can get very big and are best kept towards the back of the bed.
So sketch out you plot before you plant.
Herbs can be quite beautiful in their own way and cane lend themselves perfectly to decorative planting.
Many common herbs have ornamental varieties which taste every bit as good but are visually more interesting.
Many herbs can be grown cheaply and quite easily from seed, but if you want to save time head for the Herb Farm at Sonning Common where they have a wonderful selection of plants.
But one essential culinary herb can’t be grown from seed.
French tarragon is a delicate perennial and, unlike its flavourless Russian cousin, must be grown from cuttings.