How to raise herbs
Sow seed of herbs such as basil, chives and parsley under glass with or without heat from January to early April. Additionally, as soil conditions allow, you can sow seed of chervil, coriander and dill, directly into the soil outdoors from March onwards.
Cuttings of some herbs such as bay, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme can be taken from late summer to early autumn.
Divide hardy herbs such as sweet marjoram, oregano, mint and thyme in spring or after flowering in late summer.
More information can be found on our page for propagating herbs.
If you do not have suitable conditions for raising your own herbs, many mail order suppliers and garden centres offer a range of young plants or plugs. When these arrive they need to be carefully removed from their packaging and potted up, either into cell trays or 9cm (3½in) pots. Grow on somewhere warm and well lit, such as a windowsill, until the roots have nicely filled (but not overcrowded) the container.
Plant out young plants after hardening off. Make sure the soil or compost is moist at planting time:
- Rake the soil level, removing any large clods or stones
- Gently loosen plants from their trays by pushing them up from the base. Knock out plants from pots by giving a sharp tap to the bottom with the handle of your trowel
- Handle plants by their leaves or rootball to avoid damaging their vulnerable stems
- Plant so the top of the rootball is just below the soil surface
- Firm in
- Once planting is completed, water in using a watering can without a rose
- Shallow-rooted plants dry out quickly so water regularly when they are growing strongly
Some herbs and salads such as coriander, wild rocket and cress may be ready to harvest within a few days of sowing, while others may take a few weeks. They can be picked easily by pinching out or cut before flowering to promote bushy growth.