Most herbs are trouble free to grow and look after. They look good, smell good and do you good. Ever since humans have been on the earth, herbs have been used as medicines, perfumes, insect repellents and, of course, in foods and flavourings.
This huge group of plants includes trees, shrubs, annuals and even cacti, to name but a few. One important thing to remember when growing herbs is that they are the foundation of all modern medicine. They are not the gentle, delicate things some would like you to think. They are healers, therefore they should be treated with respect, and if you are considering them for specific medicinal use always consult a doctor or qualified herbalist. If you are growing herbs for use in the kitchen then you could have fun reading up on how they flavour food. Some herbs aid digestion and help you sleep soundly for example.
Easy to grow
Herbs can tolerate all types of tough growing conditions. Most of them were originally wild plants that grew in poor soil. Some varieties can be spoilt by the lush conditions of a garden. If they grow too large their flavours and properties become lessened. It's a myth that all herbs like full sun; even good old basil likes partial shade at midday. So when planning your garden, you can divide your plants into two sections, those like thyme, sage, rosemary, French tarragon and oregano that like full sun and those that like partial shade, such as rocket, sorrel, lettuce, mustard, parsley and chervil.
Containers and window boxes
Some plants that will do well in a herb window box on the sunny side of the house are chives, oregano and lemon thyme. Creeping thyme could be used to drape over the edge of the containers. However, on the shady side of the house a salad herb window box could be planted up with wild rocket, chervil, French parsley and red mustard.
When growing herbs in containers, use a soil-based compost, either organic or something like John Innes potting compost. This is because there are very few herbs that grow in peat, and a soil-based compost retains moisture, which is a must to stop containers drying out.
Water the containers in the morning rather than the evening because this gives the plants a chance if the temperatures are hot during the day, especially for containers grown in full sun.
Feed container plants weekly from March until September. This keeps the plants healthy, helps them produce tasty leaves, especially on cut and come again salads. As we are on the coast, a seaweed-based feed is ideal or you could make your own comfrey or nettle juice now. These are not too strong and both will promote healthy leaf growth without making the plants grow too big and tasteless.