This is the ideal time of year for planning a new herb garden. Good herb gardens begin with careful planning and preparation. Books and the internet can provide useful sources of information.
- Choose a sunny and reasonably sheltered area of your garden.
- Start by measuring the space accurately, then draw a scale diagram of the space. Where possible allow a pathway so you can easily get around the herb garden to pick your herbs. If a path is not feasible, then have stepping stones so you can reach the plants.
- Make a list of all the plants you’d like to include. And make a note of their final height and spread.
- Now plan the beds and position the plants in them. Work to scale and allow enough room for plants to grow. Group plants with similar soil requirements together.
- If your garden has enough space, why not have a seat next to the herbs? Where better to sit and bask in the summer sunshine. You could combine an insect shelter with a seat. A wooden bench with a range of insect hidey holes underneath is easy to construct and great for your garden beneficials.
- If your soil is heavy and waterlogged, many herbs will be short-lived. Rosemary, lavender and thyme hate wet feet, especially in winter. Raised beds are the answer here, with plenty of grit dug in to improve drainage. They will provide much better growing conditions. Wood such as larch is an ideal construction material for the bed edges. It has natural resistance to rot, so needs no treatment and can often be sourced from local sawmills.
- Start now by clearing away weeds and any unwanted plants. Cover the bare ground with a light-excluding mulch, such as cardboard or thick layers of newspapers. Weigh down with grass cuttings, or chipped bark. The bark can be re-used for paths. If you have any spare leaf mould, you could put a layer of that down before the light-excluding mulch. This preparation will give you a good working area so that in spring you can dig over the plot, add some fertility material and sow the seeds or plant the plants.
- If your garden is too small for a dedicated herb growing area, then try herbs in pots. Clay pots should be guaranteed frost-proof by your supplier, otherwise they’ll need moving into shelter. Plastic pots are lighter to move but not as attractive.