This summer, so far warm and wet, means that various plants are racing away and enjoying plenty of growth without demanding too much attention. Why not take advantage of that spare gardening time and spend a day building a raised herb garden? There’s something so pleasingly immediate about having a fresh and fragrant, fast-growing herb garden, always bursting with flavour to introduce to your dishes.
A raised bed offers a number of advantages. As well as looking fantastic, the height affords your precious plants extra protection from hungry slugs, and it also makes tending to the beds easier for those with creaky backs or knees. Here are our five steps to building your own raised herb garden:
- Decide on the structure
When it comes to the basic structure of your raised herb garden, there’s a vast choice. Belfast sinks, old tin baths and rustic beer barrels sawn in two are just a few objects that have found new life as homes for herbs. For real durability and the advantage of easy maintenance, how about a Woodstone planter? Their rural, earthy appearance is given longevity thanks to its sophisticated materials.
Using Argent palisade walling is a robust and practical alternative to creating your raised garden. With an attractive granite aesthetic, the palisades not only come in different heights and sizes to suit your space, but can also help protect your herbs from the threat of underground frost.
- Choose your position
If you want a continuous bumper crop of herbs, it’s important to select a sunny spot for your herb garden. To avoid growing herbs that are all legs and no body, choose a position that basks in a minimum six hours of sun daily.
- Use the right soil
Generally speaking, most herbs prefer a soil that is well-drained and fertile. Gardeners who add extra organic matter to the mix will find their herbs thrive. However, a number of woodier herbs, such as rosemary, lavender and bay, enjoy a rougher soil that contains more grit and has very good drainage, due to their Mediterranean heritage.
- Get planting!
All your favourite edible herbs can be grown with relative ease. Some are annuals that will have to be planted afresh each year, like basil, coriander and dill. Others will reward you by returning year after year. Perennial herbs include tarragon, thyme, fennel and sage. Mint is another delicious perennial herb, available in a range of varieties from spearmint and peppermint to lemon balm and apple mint. You should watch these breath fresheners carefully though – they tend to run amok and crowd others out.
- Enjoy the fruits of your labour
Once harvested, be adventurous with your crop and generous in your cooking. Try handfuls of coriander in Asian salads; blitz basil with garlic and pine nuts for homemade pesto; make irresistible ice cream using home-grown French lavender or mint, and mark Sunday with a thyme-roasted chicken.
A raised herb garden looks great and is an extremely practical addition to your outdoor space. As well as saving you money in the supermarket, it will give you the satisfaction of grow-your-own plants and more interesting recipes all year round.