Over the last few weeks I’ve fulfilled my ambition to replicate the herb garden I had when we lived Darn Sarf. Back in the South I had a large herb bed which I built over the course of several years in our front garden, and which was a regular feature of our cooking while we lived there. Replacing it here in the North has been a priority of mine since we moved in over 9 months ago, but somehow has always seemed too difficult to get done.
I made the first steps when we had a water and electricity supply run down to the bottom of our garden (to make certain orchard-related tasks a lot easier). We had a digger in to dig the trench, and while it was here I had them skim off a layer of turf from two soon-to-be-herb beds just in front of our patio. They then dumped the skimmed turf on top of a flower bed, but that’s another story. What we were left with was two beds maybe 3m x 1.5m each.
Our neighbours own a field with some horses in and have very kindly given us access to a large pile of well-rotted horse manure, for free. I therefore spent a couple of afternoons filling wheelbarrows with manure and wheeling it down to the soon-to-be-herb beds, and dumped it onto them. Each bed got 8 wheelbarrow loads of manure, which we raked over until it formed a more or less smooth layer maybe 4-6 inches deep.
My mum bought me a box of herb seedlings for my birthday, which I supplemented with some purchases of my own, and some plants that had miraculously survived being taken from the South in pots and then left more-or-less untended for 9 months. I’ve now planted all of these, which has filled one bed completely and the other maybe half-full. We’ll then fill the remaining space with herbs we haven’t yet been able to find because they aren’t yet in season, and herbs we intend to grow from seed.
What we have now:
- Two kinds of rosemary (blue and white-flowering)
- Two kinds of thyme (common thyme and creeping thyme, the latter of which will fill out the spaces between the other plants)
- Two kinds of sorrel (common and red-veined, aka “bloody dock”)
- Two kinds of sage (broad-leaved and purple)
- Two kinds of fennel (common and bronze)
- English mace
- Curry plant
- Plus some mint in a pot (kept separate as it will take over if put in the main bed)
- And some vietnamese basil in a pot (won’t survive outdoors in England, too cold!)
Still to grow and/or acquire from elsewhere:
- French tarragon
- More creeping thyme
- Coriander, probably in pots
I love cooking with herbs and it has really stuck in my craw having to pay for supermarket herbs over the last year. I am really looking forward to being able to just pop out and pick whatever I need like we used to.