GROW YOUR OWN HERBS May 21st 2013 Fancy growing your own herbs? Gardening Blogger Lucy shows us how… read more Whether your hosting an alfresco dinner party or whipping up a yummy salad for a light lunch, nothing tastes better than adding in a few flavoursome herbs – especially when you’ve handpicked them fresh! It doesn’t matter whether you have a large country garden, a small city window box or even a windowsill, herb growing can suit any environment and is actually quite straightforward! We called on Gardening blogger Lucy from Smallest Smallholding, a champion of the ‘Growing Your Own’ movement to give us the low down on how to get started… The taste for home-grown fruits and veggies is a new luxury many British families up and down the country are enjoying once more. But for some, the dream of complete self-sufficiency is just that – a dream. But that’s not to say that we all can’t enjoy a little bit of tasty, fresh home-grown produce! Even those with the smallest amount of growing space can enjoy some home-grown produce, whether it’s freshly harvested salad from your windowbox, fresh tomatoes grown on your balcony, or earthy potatoes grown in a container on your patio! Salads and herbs are a great starting point for anyone who wants to enjoy the culinary benefits of fresh, flavoursome food. Fresh herbs can add a real punch of flavour to many dishes (think freshly torn basil on pizza – delicious), and you can’t beat tender and crunchy freshly harvested salad leaves. Salad leaves and herbs are particularly easy to grow, and the Laura Ashley ceramic herb pots help to make them an attractive (and productive!) home-grown feature on your windowsill at home. I’ve chosen to grow basil, lemon thyme and flat leaf parsley in my ceramic herb pots, and the good news is that most herbs will grow happily on a warm windowsill, including other favourites such as mint, chives and coriander. Helmsley Set of Three Herb Pots Planting your herbs in the ceramic pots is easy – you can either grow on plants purchased in 6inch pots from your garden centre (I find supermarket pot-grown herbs tend to have a limited shelf life and wilt more quickly), or if you have the luxury of a little more time, you can also sow seeds directly. Herbs prefer a full-sun (southerly) aspect, so always opt to place your ceramic pots on a warm, sunny spot in your kitchen (east or west facing if you’ve got no south-facing windows), away from any draughts, fridges and hot ovens! Basil, possibly the fussiest of all herbs, doesn’t like to get too hot and dry, or too cold either, so you might have to experiment to find the best spot in your kitchen for the herbs you’ve chosen to grow. Herb plants need watering regularly, but they don’t like to be water-logged – in fact, they need a fertile but free-draining soil when they’re pot-bound, so fill each ceramic herb pot with a mixture of potting soil and sand or vermiculite to ensure good drainage. If planting from pot-grown plants, add a couple of inches of potting soil to the bottom of the ceramic pot, before placing the plant in situ and in-filling with more potting soil. If growing from herb seeds, sow on the surface of the soil, and cover with a fine sprinkling of potting soil or vermiculite. Water regularly and turn the ceramic pots as the seedlings grow, to avoid your seeds reaching for sunlight and growing wonky. You might find that every now and then, you need to fluff up and top up the soil around the mature plants; you can do this with a small fork to avoid soil compaction and avoid a ‘crust’ that stops water permeating properly. As the Laura Ashley herb pots have a shallow tray underneath, in summer months you may find that the thirsty plants will need watering daily to keep them in tip-top condition. Do you have any top tips when it comes to growing your own fruit and veg? To read more of Lucy’s gardening adventures check out more of her insightful blog here. All images are ©SmallestSmallholding.com.