How to grow herbs for winter

Now is the time to sow a hardy herb garden for fresh leaves next spring – and over the coldest months

If you want to be generous with fresh herbs – not a sprinkle of this or that, but fistfuls of pungent leafy greens or tender sprigs plucked seconds before the dish needs them – then you need to grow your own. It’s the volatile oils in herbs that make them interesting to cook with and these are lost to the air every time the plant is bruised or bashed. Those wrapped in plastic packages in the supermarket are ghosts of their former selves, to say little of the environmental cost of the refrigeration and transport.

September is such a kind month to establish perennial plants: the soil is often warm and wet, and there’s time enough before the nights draw in for the plants to get their roots down. This goes for herbs as much as anything else. If you haven’t got a herb garden, this is the perfect moment to establish one. Common herbs such as rosemary, thyme, bay (remember, bay is a tree and will grow large if not pruned regularly), chives, marjoram, oregano, tarragon and mint can all go into the ground now. Here are a few of the more unusual ones that are worth having a go with, particularly as these stay in leaf over winter.

Continue reading…