UK gardening help and assistance


Preparing the Herb Garden

The best site for a herb garden is a gentle slope facing South on well-drained, rather light soil. The best time to start preparing the site is in spring, but if the ground is heavy it is a great advantage to turned it over in autumn, leaving it rough through winter for the elements to break down.

Rotted manure or matured compost should be worked in thoroughly, the site levelled off and left to settle.

Prior to sowing or planting, give the surface a light rake over.

Herb seeds are best sown in trays, the seedlings being transplanted into boxes when 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) high. When established and hardened-off, plant the herb seedlings in the bed, preferably in the evening when the soil is moist. See this page for some advice for growing specific herbs.

If preferred, sow herb seed out of doors early in May, basil, dill, fennel and knotted marjoram can safely be sown without protection, as birds tend not to attack them. It is better to sow the seeds of the other herbs in a coldframe, or in seed-trays under a piece of glass. Some of the finest herb plants can simply be grown in small flowerpots and transplanted to the garden when they have formed a tiny ball of roots. If the herb seed is sown out of doors, the seedlings should be transplanted when they are very small and replanted 2 or 3 inches apart, and not moved to their final location until they are sturdy plants.

To avoid having to grow herbs from seeds, herb plants can be purchased from most garden centres etc. - try to select your own plants making sure that you ignore any weak looking ones.

Don't transplant any herb seedlings until the ground to which you are transferring them into is ready to receive them. The best time to transplant them is in cloudy weather, just before a shower of rain. Push the soil firmly down over the roots and leave for a day or two till the ground has settled, then lightly fork around the herb plants.