Monthly Archives: April 2011

First, the herbs …

I’ve spent the last month digging the back garden, clearing it up and discovering what had survived the winter and the nasturtium blanket. In the end, more had survived than I’d supposed, which cheered me up, but enough had died to make it worth entirely redoing the herb garden, which is where I started.

Of the four lavender bushes which had lined the little path to the patio, I dug up the two biggest and disposed of them. They had become unruly and no amount of pruning was going to get them under control. I shall replace them this year but will be keeping all lavender bushes sternly pruned from now on. Removing them gives the herb bed more of a chance as half of it won’t be overshadowed for most of the summer. I also dug up some unwisely sited tree onions and planted new sets further down the garden, where they won’t get in the way quite so much.

I was able to replace my dead rosemary bush with one that I got from my father, and it seems to have settled in quite happily. I picked up a cheap sage plant at the local d-i-y centre and it has also settled in happily. Pots of parsley (curled and flat-leaf) had overwintered in better condition than I’d thought so I’ve planted them out in two neat rows, flanking the two thyme plants that overwintered in pots. Regularity is, I think, going to be the watchword here.

I split and replanted the greek oregano I grew from seed last year, but later dug up one of the plants. I only need one as I’ve also got a different strain of oregano plant, and three plants seemed excessive. The garlic chives were moved to the back of the bed and already seems to be much happier there. The salad burnet was moved to what had been a transitory bed against the garden fence but which, I realised this year, needs to be a small permanent bed of herbs and salad things. As an annual salad bed, it had suffered badly from seedlings being dug up by the cats, whereas the permanent sorrel was thriving happily. I have split and replanted the basic chives in the same bed and they also seem happier.

I wanted a new tarragon plant but have never quite trusted the garden centres to give me the French tarragon I require, so I threw a little money at the problem and ordered some tarragon from Jekka’s Herb Farm, along with some rust-resistant Moroccan mint, some black peppermint and a winter savory plant. They are beautiful plants but for the sake of saving a pound here and there, I will in future spring for the larger plants where available. The small tarragon terrified me when it arrived, it seemed so fragile, but it has settled into its pot very quickly and is thriving. The mints are also doing well in their pots; I already had two other mints, spearmint and apple mint, and I took the opportunity to take root cuttings and start new pots.

Meanwhile, I ran a little mad in the seed department as well, and in my greenhouse I hae sown pots of chervil (which sprouted this weekend; I know chervil is supposed to be dead easy but I have never had much luck with it), sweet cicely, dill, summer savory (which I noticed this morning has finally germinated), borage and various basils, as well as more pots of parsley, and some coriander. I am now waiting impatiently for these plants to grow big enough for me to use them. Other than that, I have the hyssop and the bay to repot, after which I should have a full battery of culinary herbs at my disposal.