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Author Topic: I'm revamping my herb garden  (Read 6806 times)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
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I'm revamping my herb garden
« on: January 08, 2014, 06:22:48 pm »
I have various herbs scattered around my flower garden, but I also have a small dog who feels obliged to cock his leg on every plant I have, so the herbs are unusable.  I've been planning for a couple of years to make a dedicated herb garden right beside my front door - south facing with a stone house wall behind to retain summer heat.
Today the sun shone  :sunshine:  and OH and I became inspired to get started  :excited: .  We cleared all the plants and bulbs out of the bed and have dug in a lot of gravel to the base.  Tomorrow he will set off with a wheelbarrow to collect up molehill soil to raise the level up above the surrounds.  This will be mixed with more gravel plus a lot of sharp grit to give perfect, well drained conditions for my herbs - well, as perfect as I can get in soggy, cold Scotland  :gloomy:
 
To keep the dogs off I'm going to weave a little fence of willow and birch twigs to surround the bed - I'm not sure if it will look too twee, but I have to keep them off somehow if I'm going to be able to use my herbs  :dog: :dog:   It might keep the cat  :cat:  off too  :fc: .....
 
So, what herbs would you recommend for kitchen use?  I love marjoram, oregano and thyme, parsley and chives, but I detest coriander and am not over the moon about basil, oddly - though it's better growing it outdoors than in the house as it just smells of cat pee  :P  I'm wondering about a few medicinal herbs too (I already have feverfew)
 
Which other herbs can you not do without in your kitchen garden?   :garden:
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spandit

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • East Sussex
    • Sussex Forest Garden
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 06:32:41 pm »
Just be a little careful of your willow hedge as it could take root and then take over...

I love rosemary, lavender and peppermint
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Mammyshaz

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Durham
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 06:39:24 pm »
Lemon balm. It self seeds and the scent of crushed leaves is lovely. Great as a tea or in cakes, drinks or in fish dishes  :yum:
I love rosemary but have killed off every plant or seedling for the last 10yrs+ Until this year that is  :excited: managed to keep a plant going and the seeds I sowed all took so the poly is anrosemary nursery over winter  :fc:
I grow lots of what has been mentioned already but these two are my must haves, oh and chives and coriander  :thumbsup:

bloomer

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Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 06:54:15 pm »
lemon balm also has a plus point of most cats dont like it...




Dans

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Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2014, 07:57:14 pm »
Beware of mint. It will take over everything. I have my herbs in a whiskey barrel to avoid the cats.
 
I've started using tarragon in my cooking, no idea how it grows though.

I second adding in Rosemary.

Dans
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Possum

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Somerset
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 09:28:37 pm »
Sage, rosemary and tarragon. All should grow really well in your sunny herb garden. Might be best to buy small plants rather than seed. The shorter growing season might mean that seed-raised herbs don't have time to establish properly.

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 09:35:49 pm »
Rosemary for sure but it gets big. We've got shaped rosemary bushes in our formal garden that have been cut like pillars - they're about 5 foot high and 2 foot wide/deep. Also bay but again it's big a.k.a. tree so maybe not in the bed you describe. Sage would love it and I use that a lot. The advantage of rosemary, sage, thyme and bay is that they're evergreens so you don't need to fuss about cutting and freezing.

I've also got parsley (curly and flat leaved), marjoram, oregano, tarragon (very slow growing from what I've seen), chives, lavender, balm, verbena (hoping it'll survive the winter) and English mace (not actually used that in cooking). I've tried coriander and dill but never had much luck although they grow like weeds in my neighbour's garden. I grow various mints in pots - you might be able to make an edging of pots to keep the animals out and the mint in?

I don't know whether it's still published but I got Jekka's Herb book years ago and love it. There are loads of medicinal herbs in there too and how to use them. I flick through every so often working out what to try next (angelica was another trial this year that was less than successful).


SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 08:44:23 am »
Oh, sounds lovely  :thumbsup:

I'll start by saying that I love coriander in all its forms, that if there's a dish with coriander in it on a restaurant menu, that's highly likely to be the dish I order... so since you hate coriander, you will have to calibrate my other suggestions for my palate being different to yours!  :D

I should also say that I haven't grown herbs up here, so some of my suggestions may not be suitable for the more northerly climate.

You already have thyme, oregano and marjoram, 3 of my favourites. 

I would definitely add sage - what a versatile herb, have you tried just a little in an omelette?  :yum:  And such lovely leaves and beautiful flowers. 

If you can grow rosemary, yes of course - fantastic with any meat, not just lamb / mutton, beautiful, beautiful plant, evergreen, sweet little flowers, gorgeous scent - I cannot pass a rosemary plant without stroking some leaves and smelling my hand!  I have never been able to get rosemary established  :( - I think they don't like it too wet, they certainly don't like being transplanted, and like Mammyshaz, I've always found it hard to get them established, even in less dank and cool conditions than I live now.

If it's dry and alkaline enough for lavender, not only is it beautiful (makes good edging) and sweet smelling, but the bees love it, and the leaves add a lovely gentle flavour to stews.  When I had a Rayburn I used to make stews with no added ingredients at all - just meat and veg, and leave the Rayburn to work her magic for five hours or so - but if I was going to add anything, it would be a few leaves of lavender.  People used to flock around me when I took the stew to work for my lunch, saying the smell and taste was so beautiful  :)  People say the bushes get woody and leggy, but if you are robust about pruning at the end of the winter (leaving the seedheads on for birds and insects over winter) they get bigger only very slowly, and won't get leggy for years and years and years.  Oh, and of course lavender is thought to deter the clothes moth ;)

Like many others, I love lemon balm for its joyous colour and scent, a spring in a cup of hot water makes a lovely refreshing drink.  And you can use it in recipes anywhere you might use a squirt of lemon juice ;)

One you may not have come across, actually two, is the savouries.  Winter savoury (perennial) and summer savoury (annual) - they're pretty little plants and I love the flavour of their leaves in salads and in scrambled egg, omelettes, etc.  Apparently summer savoury is one of the characteristic ingredients of Herbes de Provence, and both savouries are used with meats and especially in sausages.  However I don't know if either savoury will like it so far north; I haven't grown them up here (I haven't grown anything up here :() but always had them when I lived further south.

Talking of pretty and lovely in salad - rocket  :yum:  Such gorgeous flowers I always let some run to seed :)

Borage too - fab flowers, bees adore them, you can use leaves and flowers in salads and Pimms.  Once you start with borage you'll have it forever, but it's so gorgeous you won't mind a bit ;)

Chervil's rather nice - a gentle aniseedy flavour.  One of the ones you have to add at serving time or the flavour is gone.  Grows easily, self-seeds, nice soft bright green leaves.  I love it with fish.

Dill and fennel both give height and structure, but if you don't like aniseed then I wouldn't bother, lol.

Rue - such a pretty plant, though be careful of touching it especially on a sunny day.  Not any longer for culinary or medicinal use, really, but it's pretty and
Quote
Most cats dislike the smell of it, and it can therefore be used as a deterrent to them

Chamomile - lovely for teas, and another very pretty one.

Comfrey - good for your bones!  And you can make a liquid fertiliser for the garden by letting the stems and leaves rot.  Bees adore it, the flowers are beautiful - but if you don't want it taking over your entire holding, grow the Bocking 14 variety.  (I'm pretty sure you know all this, fw - I think we've talked comfrey before! :))

Feverfew - Wiki says don't take aspirin as well if you're using feverfew.

Looking at Wiki's List of plats used in herbalism for any of which I have personal experience, I see that marigold has medicinal uses. 

I also see that marshmallow has many uses - such a beautiful plant :)

I haven't ever grown echinachea but that could be a good one for the medicinal section?

Oh, you will have such fun planning and establishing this herb garden!  Do keep us updated on what you choose, why, and how they do for you :)
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Greenerlife

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Leafy Surrey
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 10:07:24 am »
I did this last year, and my new raised herb bed stands next to my kitchen door, so I remember to use it more regularly!  So many herbs to choose from, but a "must have" for me is proper French Tarragon (not the rubbish that most places seem to sell). It isn't hardy at all, so I have had to dig it up for winter, but it is a fantastic herb.  complements chicken, fish and is fantastic with carrots!


I cook a lot with rosemary and sage, and I did put dill in, but it is a bit too big for my bed!  i am sure you'll enjoy having it.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2014, 12:09:38 am »
Thank you everyone for some great ideas.

I have a huge comfrey bed in the veg garden - use it for all sorts of things and the bees love it, but too big for my little herb garden, which is 4' x about 12'.  Borage is too big as well but I have some in my veg patch and some which found its way into the polytunnel - so pretty.

Love the idea of French Tarragon.  I did have some in a previous, warmer garden.  We're having an enclosed front porch added so that will do to overwinter tender herbs.

Rosemary has never done well here as it's just too cold, but if I plant it in a large pot it can overwinter in the porch too.  Lemon verbena too, or that could even come into the house.  I managed to keep a plant alive in my greenhouse for 3 years, but a minus 18 frost got it in the end.  Tastes lovely though.

Sally, I'm not sure why I hate coriander so much except that the smell makes me feel ill,  I don't like root fennel either, or rocket and I think chervil would smell similar too :P  But sage is great.  Only the purple one will survive outdoors here, but I will definitely have a couple of plants of that.

Lavender is something I have lots of.  It doesn't thrive here and I have to renew the plants every few years, but I have already put one of those into the herb bed to keep the dogs off.  I hadn't thought of using it in stews - definitely something to try.

I also have monarda dotted around the flower garden, for the bees (which didn't think much of it last season).  But I will take some root cuttings to go in the protected herb bed.  It will go with the colour scheme too:  the back wall has Virginia creeper, a deep red clematis and a pinky rose, plus there's a lovely deep crimson peony.

I have put a transplanted thyme in there but I will get a few more young broad-leaved thyme for fresher plants.
I have plenty of marjoram and oregano to divide and add to the bed.  The bees adored those last summer, but unfortunately so did the leg cocking terrier  :(   I also have lots of pots with chives in so I can have lots of those - it's something else I use a lot of.  There has been self-seeding parsley in this bed when it was just an ordinary flower bed, but I don't know if it will come back up this year with all the digging and soil change, so I'll sow some more.

I had forgotten lemon balm.  It's tall enough that the dog can't pee that high, but I will definitely put a plant in the herb bed.  I make a herb tea in summer from a mix of various herbs, but it always includes lemon balm.  It often has nettle in too, and the lemon balm helps to disguise the taste.  I think some monarda petals would be good in the tea too.

Yes, dill is tall, although not so bad as leaf fennel, and I had planned to grow that in a flower bed.  I don't use a lot of it in cooking but it looks great in flower arrangements.  Rue I have grown once in the past but I didn't use it and haven't repeated the experiment because I was sensitive to the leaves (I even come out in a rash from strawberry leaves  ::) )

I always used to grow summer savory with my broad beans when I had my allotments.  Back then folk were too polite to say it goes well with beans because it reduces flatulence - the seed catalogues just said 'goes well with broad beans'  ;D   I would like to grow both the summer and winter types, but I need to get the seeds in now.

I love to grow pot marigold but I think it will clash with the dark reds, so I'll grow it elsewhere.  Great in salads and for hand cream.

I already have feverfew in the bed - a slightly double type I brought with me from 'home' and it's followed me around eight houses over the years.

I have Echinacea in my prairie-ish garden but I haven't used it medicinally - I take so many meds already I would be scared to try it.  Very beautiful though.

I dug out my copy of Jekka's herb book - it looks as if she no longer sells plants, just seeds.  But I have found Norfolk Herbs online which does very nicely priced herb plants, with a huge variety, so I will be ordering what I can't get locally from them.

Ah yes, mint.  I love mint and use lots to serve with our hogget, but you're right Dans, it spreads and takes over - would soon have the whole bed to itself.  I always have some in big pots, but they are horribly overcrowded now so I need to deal with that.  Couldn't be without mint and it goes in nearly all my herbal teas.

Thanks for the reminder about willow rooting itself Spandit  ;D  We used some for stakes when we laid a length of hedge.  Most were chewed over first by the sheep which strip off the bark so it doesn't grow, but a few stakes were needed in a hurry so we just used them as they were, although upside down - made no difference and willow is now an integral part of that hedge.  So we will dunk the stems in boiling water then steep them for a few days in wood preservative before I start weaving.


We have got to the point of planting out a few core plants, but it's too cold to put out baby plants, so that will have to wait for spring.  At the moment we have a light sprinkling of snow and minus 6 or so tonight.

Thank you for all your ideas and suggestions.  I'm having huge fun planning this and am so looking forward to having fresh herbs for my salads, teas and cooking again.   I'l let you know how I get on and if I grow any rarer herbs.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 12:46:14 am by Fleecewife »
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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Spinningfishwife

  • Joined Oct 2013
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 05:23:27 pm »
Lemon balm is a bit of a thug when it gets going and can easily overwhelm a herb bed. Might be best keeping it in a pot too?

I grow chives, garlic chives, rosemary (in pot), flat leaf parsley, coriander, oregano, thyme, mints (in pots) and sage. I've grown many others but it eventually dawned on me I didn't use most of them so I've cut back to the above list. I also grow catnip for the mogs and lavender for the bees and lovely smell. I don't actually grow lemon balm and feverfew but it seems to be in the garden anyway.

Pasture Farm

  • Joined Aug 2011
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Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 07:29:10 pm »
We have Lovage....can be a bit rampant if not checked   and has a nice celery flavour.......as does Parcel.......French Tarragon we cut back to ground level and watch it re emerge in the spring..... we also grow thymes   rosemary    sage     a couple of mints in their own contained beds......chives      and parsley and basil in the polytunnel :thumbsup:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 12:09:07 am »
Lemon balm is a bit of a thug when it gets going and can easily overwhelm a herb bed. Might be best keeping it in a pot too?

I grow chives, garlic chives, rosemary (in pot), flat leaf parsley, coriander, oregano, thyme, mints (in pots) and sage. I've grown many others but it eventually dawned on me I didn't use most of them so I've cut back to the above list. I also grow catnip for the mogs and lavender for the bees and lovely smell. I don't actually grow lemon balm and feverfew but it seems to be in the garden anyway.

I grew lemon balm in one of my allotments in Edinburgh years ago, and it filled a large area with seedlings, as you say.  When we moved on the next allotmenteer must have cursed me  :o

But the one plant I had here, 1000' above sea level and very cold, wasn't such a thug and eventually disappeared, so maybe we are at the limit of its comfort zone.  But you are right - to be safe I should keep it in a pot.   I struggle a bit to get a good long-lasting compost for various pots, and to keep them all watered, so I prefer things to grow in the ground if possible.


Pasture Farm, Thank you for the tip about cutting French tarragon down for the winter.  I could protect it with straw, and keep some roots indoors in case I lose the main plant.

I have grown lovage, which was at least 6' tall, and I rarely used the leaves, so if I do grow one it will be as an architectural plant in the border, and I will experiment with uses.  I've tried to grow it from seed here, totally without success so I will need to buy a plant.  Certainly the dog won't be able to reach it with his scent marking  :thumbsup:




Another plant I have grown but not used is salad burnet - tasted so horrible I can't understand why anyone would want to eat it  :D  But then I feel the same about rocket.

I am keen to grow a wider selection of herbs than in the past because I have found that I use a lot, mixed in with salad leaves, added to sandwiches, soups, in fact everything, plus for my teas, so I want to experiment with different flavours.  Also so many herbs are loved by bees and hoverflies, butterflies too, that I get pleasure from just watching them.  Also the bed has room for some unusual herbs as well as the more common ones, so I'm happy to give them a go.  Ask me again in a couple of years if it was worthwhile and I might well have given up on the ones I don't use frequently  ;D
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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 09:38:23 am »
I should also point you at 'Plants with Altitude' - plants grown high up in Cumbria, so fairly hardy ;) 

I don't know what if any herbs they do, but you can request a catalogue on the website.

And if they had anything interesting, you could plan a trip, collecting an interested friend en route... ;) :D

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Greenerlife

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Leafy Surrey
Re: I'm revamping my herb garden
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 09:42:49 am »
I saw a tv programme with I think Jekka McVicar, who said if your tarragon comes back in spring - it isn't French tarragon.  It will be Russian tarragon.  Very similar looking plants, but the french has a much better flavour.

 

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