Totally herbaceous

06 Sep 2017

Sick of being sick, cold and run down? With the warmer weather just around the corner (finally) it’s time to get excited about sunshine, exercising outdoors and getting out into the garden. Set your sights on creating a killer herb garden at home with our guide to growing them yourself.

WORDS: Jessica Zoiti

 

PARSLEY

Growth cycle: Parsley is a biennial herb, meaning it takes two years to complete its lifecycle, but is most commonly planted as an annual.

When to plant it: For best results, plant in early spring and prune down to the stems in early autumn to promote thicker foliage.

Ideal conditions: Grow parsley in either full sun or part shade in nutrient-rich, moist soil. Mulch around the base of the plant but be careful to keep the mulch away from the stems to prevent root rot. Typically, Parsley is ready for harvest between 10 and 11 weeks. Parsley grows well potted and in the garden, but can grow vigorously when left to freely germinate.

Top tip: Parsley is a top herb for inexperienced gardeners as it can grow with little sunlight and maintenance. Just ensure your soil doesn’t get too dry.

 

BASIL

Growth cycle: An annual herb, Basil takes a year to mature from seed to flower.

When to plant it: Plant in early to mid-spring once the danger of frost has passed.

Ideal conditions: Basil grows well in full sun, or in areas that get morning sun then afternoon shade in very hot climates. It can be grown from clippings but to ensure you get as many fresh leaves as possible, clip flower stalks as soon as they appear. Soil should be rich, most and well-drained. It grows well both in pots and planted in the ground.

Top tip: Basil grows well indoor and outside, both in a pot or in the ground but make sure you don’t over-water. Every second or third day is sufficient.

 

OREGANO

Growth cycle: Oregano is a hardy perennial.

When to plant it: In early spring.

Ideal conditions: Oregano grows best in mild climates in areas that receive full sun, or morning sun then afternoon shade (in hotter climates). Soils must be well-drained. During the colder moths, oregano needs to be mulched, or alternatively covered with a cold frame, to prevent its roots from freezing. Oregano leaves and flowers are both edible and taste similar. It grows well in a pot, or as a ground cover.

Top tip: While oregano grows well in pots, it’s excellent for brightening up the garden – its height and lush green colour makes it great for trimming pathways.

 

CORIANDER

Growth cycle: Coriander is an annual herb

When to plant it: During spring and summer.

Ideal conditions: Coriander loves full sun, or a little bit of light shade. Soil must be well-drained and fertilized every four to five weeks. Harvest leaves from your coriander plant as they’re available band the plant will continue to re-sow from seeds that drop during the growing season. To prevent fungal infections, clip any dried stalks and leaves from the plant.

Top tip: Coriander grows best outdoors and in the garden – it’s long central tap root needs deep soil to truly thrive.

 

THYME

Growth cycle: Thyme is a perennial herb – it can be pruned from its second year of growth onwards.

When to plant it: Early spring

Ideal conditions: Thyme loves sun or part shade and well-drained soil with relatively high pH levels (around pH7.0). In the garden it can grow into an attractive creeping ground cover that both prevents weeds and attracts pollinators (like bees) to your garden. The herb can be pruned lightly once the danger of frost has passed (from the second year onwards) and can be encouraged to grow further during spring and summer by gently punching off the tips of the stems.

Top tip: Thyme is well-suited to indoor growing because it remains nice and small in its pot.

 

CHIVES

Growth cycle: A perennial plant (will grow for an infinite amount of time), chives are hardy and col-tolerant.

When to plant it: Plant chives in spring or early autumn. Alternatively, if you’ve already got a thriving patch of chives, divide it into clumps and re-plant them in early spring. To maintain your chives, prune them straight across the base of the plant leaving short stubs above the ground – this will ensure it re-grows hardier and leafier.

Ideal conditions: Full sun or part shade in rich, moist well-drained soil.

Did you know? Like other Alliums (garlic and onions), chives can help deter insect pests like aphids and mozzies from your garden. They’re also a natural anti-inflammatory when ingested.

Top tip: Chives is a great indoor herb growing well in shadier conditions.

 

ROSEMARY

Growth cycle: A perennial plant, rosemary is one of the hardiest herbs around.

When to plant it: Spring

Ideal conditions: Full sun in light, well-drained soil. Rosemary can grow up to a metre and a half high, and is hardy in quite unforgiving conditions, making it an excellent shrubbing plant. From seed, rosemary takes a long time to grow however, it’s easy to cultivate from clippings. Keep roots moist in summer by frequently watering and protected in winter.

Top tip: Getting a little forgetful? Plant rosemary – it’s said to improve memory and better still, can help fight cancer cells.

 

DILL

Growth cycle: Dill is a delicate annual herb.

When to plant it: Early to mid-spring.

Ideal conditions: Dill grows best in full sun (but will tolerate shade) in deep, loose soil or large pots. Sow seeds, or plant seedlings, close together so the plants – which are light and can blow over easily – can support one another. If planted outside, water just once weekly (dill doesn’t grow as successfully indoors).

Top tip: Infuse a teaspoon of freshly chopped dill leaves in a cup of boiling water, strain then drink slowly to cure yourself of the hiccups.