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Growing Herbs

Seed Sowing, Care, Harvesting and Uses

Originally on http://www.recipes4us.co.uk

Basil - Bay - Borage - Chervil - Chives - Coriander - Dill - Marjoram - Mint - Oregano - Parsley - Rosemary - Sage - Tarragon - Thyme


 

Growing Herbs and Vegetables Main Page


Growing Vegetables Main Page

Below are general guidelines for growing herbs. It's probably easier than you thought and there's nothing better than harvesting and cooking with your own home grown produce. 

Many herbs can also be grown in pots indoors, so long as they are kept in a light position (e.g. on a windowsill), but beware of them being scorched by the sun through the window! 

Most herbs prefer a sunny position, especially the woody types such as thyme, sage and rosemary,  although  shade  for part of the day is a welcome relief to the annual types such as parsley, basil and chervil.


Basil - Sweet (Ocimum basilicum) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 45cm/ 18" 

Where to Sow

Indoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter

Sowing time

March/April - temperature   +16C/61F

How to Sow

Very thinly. Cover lightly with compost, water well then place in sealed polythene bags or cover with glass. Water from beneath. Keep compost moist but not very wet.

After Germination

Remove from bags or glass. Place  in light position (out of direct sunlight). Thin to 3 plants per pot when the plants are about 12mm/1/2" tall. This is most easily done with a pair of tweezers.

Growing on -  in pots

Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and pot each up into 15cm/6" pots. Pinch out growing tips regularly to produce bushy plants.

Growing on - in ground

As above but plant the divided plants in beds or borders 30cm/12" apart. 

Harvesting

Leaves can be picked about 6 weeks after planting. If harvesting for drying, cut the leaves just before the flowers open.

Uses

Goes particularly well in tomato dishes,  pasta and salads. Use sparingly.

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Bay - sweet  (Laurus nobilis L) -  Tree

Plant Height

Various - can grow up to 15m 

Sowing Seed

Not Recommended

Growing  in pots

Buy a pot grown specimen and place outdoors in in a sunny sheltered place. Re-pot into larger pots as necessary. 

IMPORTANT - Make sure you buy sweet bay plants from reputable suppliers as most other laurels are poisonous.

Harvesting

Pick individual young leaves from all over the plant.

Uses

Goes well with meat dishes especially stews, casseroles and meat pasta sauces. Used in Bouquet Garni.

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Borage - (Borago officinalis) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 60cm/2 ft 

Where to Sow

Outdoors in small pots/seed trays or directly in the ground in a dry sunny position. 

Sowing time

Any time during the growing season. To ensure a continuous supply, sow at 4-weekly intervals.

How to Sow

Thinly. Cover lightly with compost. 

After Germination

Thin to 3 plants per pot when the plants are about 12mm/1/2" tall. This is most easily done with a pair of tweezers.

Growing on -  in pots

Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and pot each up into 15cm/6" pots. 

Growing on - in ground

Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and transplant  to  30cm/12" apart. 

Harvesting

Pick blooms as they open. Not suitable for drying. 

Uses

Adds a cool cucumber-like flavour to summer drinks. The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups

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Chervil - (Anthriscus cerefolium) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 90cm/3 ft 

Where to Sow

Outdoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter or directly in the ground in a sunny position. 

Sowing time

Any time during the growing season up to 8 weeks before first frosts.

How to Sow

Thinly. Press seeds into the soil surface 

After Germination

Thin to 3 plants per pot when the plants are about 5cm/2-inches tall. 

Growing on -  in pots

Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and pot each up into 15cm/6" pots. 

Growing on - in ground

Thin to  20cm/8-inches 

Harvesting

Pick leaves just before the buds break. 

Uses

Use the

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Chives - (Allium schoenoprasum) - Hardy Perenial

Plant Height

Up to 25cm/10-inches 

Where to Sow

Indoors/Outdoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter or directly in the ground in sun or partial shade. 

Sowing time

March/April - temperature   +16C/61F

How to Sow

3 seeds per pot 12mm/1/2-inch deep

After Germination

Keep well watered 

Growing on -  in pots

Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and pot each up into 7.5cm/3" pots. Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Thin or plant out  15cm/6-inches apart. Divide old plants at the beginning of the growing season. 

Harvesting

Cut the leaves close to the base as and when needed. Best harvested before flowering. 

Uses

In salads, egg and dairy dishes. One of the "fines He".

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Coriander / Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 60cm/2 ft

Where to Sow

Outdoors/indoors in pots 7.5cm/3" diameter or directly in the ground in a  sunny position. 

Sowing time

Outdoors - March/April - temperature   +16C/61F. Can be grown all year round indoors.

How to Sow

3 seeds per pot - 12mm/1/2-inch deep

After Germination

Keep moist.

Growing on -  in pots

When 5cm/2-inches tall, thin to 1 plant per pot. Seedlings to not transplant well. Harden off  plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 5cm/2-inches tall, Thin or plant out  15cm/6-inches apart.

Harvesting

Whole plants when 15cm/6-inches tall or leaves (sparingly)  as and when needed.  Gather the seeds as they ripen.

Uses

The leaves and seeds are widely used as an ingredient and garnish in Asian cooking including curries

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Dill - (Anethum graveolens) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 90cm/3 ft

Where to Sow

Outdoors directly in the ground in a  sunny position. 

Sowing time

March/April - temperature   +16C/61F. 

How to Sow

2.5cm/1-inch apart. Press into soil surface

After Germination

Keep moist.

Growing on -  in pots

Not recommended

Growing on - in ground

When 7.55cm/3-inches tall, thin to 30cm/12-inches apart. Stake tall plants.

Harvesting

Pick leaves just before the flowers open. Harvest seeds when they are flat and brown.

Uses

The leaves are great sprinkled on news potatoes, tomatoes, grilled salmon, spinach, green beans, cucumbers and squash. Use the seeds for pickling.

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Marjoram (Sweet) - (Marorana hortensis) - treat as Annual

Plant Height

Up to 30cm/12 inches

Where to Sow

Indoors/Outdoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter or directly in the ground in sun or partial shade. 

Sowing time

Outdoors - March/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

Indoors - 6 weeks before the end of frosts

How to Sow

2.5cm/1-inch apart. Press into soil surface

After Germination

Because the seeds are so tiny it is difficult to space individual plants. Transplant clumps of 3 - 6 seedlings every 6 - 8 inches in the open. Thin to 3 clumps of 3-4 plants per pot.

Growing on -  in pots

When 5cm/2-inches transplant 1 clump per 15cm/6 inch pot. Harden off  plants raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 5cm/2-inches tall, thin or plant out to one clump 30cm/12-inches 30cm/12 inches apart. 

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested anytime. Cut the leafy stems at flowering for drying.

Uses

Can be used as a substitute for Oregano in most dishes. Also good  sprinkled on pizzas and Vegetable dishes.

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Mint (Mentha piperita) - Perennial

Plant Height

Up to 30cm/12 inches

Where to Sow

Indoors in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter. 

Sowing time

Indoors February/June - temperature   +16C/61F.  Can be sown outdoors but germination may be slow.

How to Sow

Very thinly. Press seeds into moist  compost, then place in sealed polythene bags or cover with glass. Water from beneath. Keep compost moist but not very wet.

After Germination

Remove the glass/from the bag and grow on

Growing on -  in pots

When 5cm/2-inches transplant to 1 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off   and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 5cm/2-inches thin to 3 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off  and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Once they are established with a good root system, transfer to the open ground 30cm/12 inches apart. Mint spreads like wild fire - Beware!

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested anytime

Uses

Sprinkle finely chopped mint over vegetables, especially new potatoes and peas, fish, Lamb, veal and fresh fruit. 

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Oregano  (Origanum vulgare) - Hardy Perennial

Plant Height

Up to 40cm/15-inches

Where to Sow

Indoors/Outdoors thinly  in small pots 7.5cm/3" diameter. 

Outdoors in open ground

Sowing time

Indoors February/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

Outdoors - 2 to 4 weeks after the last frost

How to Sow

6mm/1/4-inch deep. 

After Germination

Keep compost moist but not very wet. 

Growing on -  in pots

When 5cm/2-inches thin/transplant to 1 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 5cm/2-inches thin or plant out to 20cm/8-inches apart

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested anytime before the flowers form. Remove flowers to prolong picking.

Uses

A popular herb used in Mediterranean cuisine. Very good with lamb, tomatoes, fish and cheese dishes.

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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) - Annual

Plant Height

Up to 15cm/6-inches

Where to Sow

Indoors/Outdoors thinly  in small pots  7.5cm/3" diameter. 

Outdoors in open ground

Sowing time

Indoors February/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

Outdoors - 2 weeks before the last frost. 

Is a notoriously slow germinator. Can take 40 days ...... Patience!

How to Sow

Sow seeds 2.5cm/1-inch apart,  6mm/1/4-inch deep.

After Germination

Keep compost moist but not very wet. 

Growing on -  in pots

When 2.5cm/1-inch thin/transplant to 1 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 2.55cm/1 inch thin or plant out to 20cm/8-inches apart

Harvesting

Cut parsley when the leaves are of a suitable size. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.

Uses

Goes with almost everything including omelets, salads, stews, vegetables, fish, sauces, eggs and soups and is therefore an ideal herb to use as a garnish. One of the "fines he" and used in Bouquet Garni

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Rosemary - (Rosmarinus officinalis) - Hardy Shrub

Plant Height

Up to 2m/6.6 ft if left unchecked!

Where to Sow

Indoors/Outdoors thinly  in small pots  7.5cm/3" diameter. 

Outdoors in open ground

Sowing time

Indoors February/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

Outdoors - after the last frost. 

Another  slow germinator. Up to 30 days

How to Sow

Sow seeds 2.5cm/1-inch apart,  6mm/1/4-inch deep.

After Germination

Keep compost moist but not very wet. 

Growing on -  in pots

When 2.5cm/1-inch thin/transplant to 1 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off plants which have been raised indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.

Growing on - in ground

When 2.55cm/1 inch thin or plant out  to 40cm/18-inches apart

Harvesting

Harvest the leaves as necessary. Also mature whole stems which are particularly useful  as skewers for meat kebabs. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.

Uses

Goes well with

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Sage -(Salvia officinalis) - Perennial

Plant Height

Up to 90cm/3 ft

Where to Sow

Indoors thinly  in  pots  or  trays 14cm/6" diameter. 

Sowing time

Indoors February/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

How to Sow

Sow seeds 2.5cm/1-inch apart,  6mm/1/4-inch deep.

After Germination

Keep compost moist but not very wet. 

Growing on -  in pots

When 2.5cm/1-inch thin/transplant to 1 plant per 7.5cm/3 inch pot. Harden off plants which have been raised  indoors and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Re-pot into larger pots in stages - up to 30cm/12-inches in diameter.

Growing on - in ground

As above but once hardened off, plant at least 40cm/18 inches apart in full sun.

Harvesting

Harvest the leaves before or at flowering time. 

Uses

Popular as a flavouring in stuffings for poultry, pork and baked fish. Also good with sausage meat.

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Tarragon - (Artemisia dracunculus) - half hardy Perennial

Plant Height

Various - can grow up to 90cm/3 ft 

Sowing Seed

Not Recommended

Growing  in pots

Buy a pot grown specimen and place outdoors in in a semi-shaded, sheltered place. Move indoors in Winter.

Harvesting

It is best to use fresh young leaves and stem tips

Uses

Particularly good with  chicken or beef and is well known as a flavouring for vinegar

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Thyme - (Thymus vulgaris) - Perennial

Plant Height

Up to 30cm/12 inches

Where to Sow

Indoors  in  pots 7.5cm/3-inches in diameter. 

Sowing time

Indoors March/April - temperature   +16C/61F.  

How to Sow

Very thinly. Cover with 3mm/1/8-inch of compost, water well then place in sealed polythene bags or cover with glass. Water from beneath.

After Germination

Remove from bags or glass. Place  in light position (out of direct sunlight). Thin to 3 plants per pot when the plants are about 12mm/1/2" tall. This is easily done with tweezers.

Growing on -  in pots

Harden off  and finally move outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. Once the plants are established with a good root system, divide into separate plants and pot each up into 15cm/6" pots.

Growing on - in ground

As above but once hardened off, plant 25cm/10-inches inches apart in full sun.

Harvesting

Harvest whole stems before or at flowering time.  Good for drying.

Uses

One of the most fragrant herbs which goes well with fish, meat, poultry, game, cheese...almost everything! Used in Bouquet Garni

 

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