So you want to grow your own herbs but you’re a bit lost when it comes to gardening? Bodhi owner Heaven Leigh gets the downlow on the don’ts of growing herbs.
One of the problems I tend to have in the kitchen is I will purchase herbs from the supermarket, put them in the fridge and by the time that I want to use them, they're wilted and spoiled. I’m sure I’m not alone here!
So I like having everything near me and accessible so I can pick my herbs as fresh as possible, and minimise any potential waste in the process.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, I decided to take advantage of the “at home” time and overhaul my garden to create new edible pockets of plants, including a herb garden.
I chatted with resident gardener Zeke from Maintain Me to get his expert “what not to do’s” when planting a thriving herb garden.
#1 Don’t go rogue with your herb selection
Similar to the advice shared from Simon from Vegepod, Zeke also recommends planting only those herbs which you like and will use in your cooking. Don’t get carried away and pick herbs which you’ll rarely use - go with the common ones that you can use in everyday cooking, especially to start. And always check your herbs before buying to ensure they look lush and healthy.
#2 Don’t mix your herbs
To keep your herbs neat and easily identifiable, Zeke says to plant herbs in clumps, so you have little clusters of the same type. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of herbs growing into one another - harder to water and maintain, and certainly harder to work out what’s what. And distance any herbs which look similar… in other words, don’t plant coriander and continental parsley next to each other! And it’s always better to underplant than overcrowd.
#3 Don’t mess up the planting bit
Zeke recommends digging a hole for your herb first then put your potted herb in to ensure it isn’t going to sit too low or too high above the soil level. Take care when removing the herbs from their pots, very gently easing the plant out then teasing the roots out a little before planting, then fill around it. Best to plant lower growing herbs at the front and higher herbs at the back, for easy access and maintenance, best spread of sunlight and for aesthetics.
#4 Don’t be afraid to pick
Pruning herbs actually makes them grow quicker and bushier, so don’t hesitate to start picking away as soon as you like, to encourage growth. Zeke cautions that coriander and basil need a more gentle touch, as they can be more sensitive. He recommends pinching and twisting with these herbs to remove leaves.
#5 Don’t forget to feed your herbs
Sounds obvious right? But Zeke says people commonly forget to water, or water incorrectly. Herbs don’t need too much fuss, but when watering, try to do so in the early morning when evaporation won’t be an issue. Always water the soil, not the leaves as to avoid mildew and disease. And remember to fertilise.