There is something so therapeutic about gardening. I always feel strangely satisfied and calm whenever I have spent time in the garden, whether it’s planting and weeding, or just having a look at how the plants are doing.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling – fresh air, after all, is a well known remedy for ‘lifting the spirits.’ But recently I listened to The Gardeners of Kabul, a BBC World Service documentary. One of the guys interviewed said that it didn’t matter what kind of a mood he was in, when he got into the garden and started working, he started to feel calm. It is encouraging to me that in the midst of what must be a very difficult time, gardening helps.
Research has shown that gardening is beneficial to health, for example providing exercise. But more specifically, it has shown that working with soil can have positive impacts on the mind.
So, growing things is good for you! And, if some plants can grow without too much work from the gardener then all the better!
The great thing about herbs is that some of them can more or less look after themselves. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t have too much room as they can be planted in pots as well as straight into the ground.
Now, I have been through the cycle of enthusiastically buying potted herbs, arranging them beautifully and harvesting a few leaves for a meal, only to forget about them and find a lonely shriveled stalk when I finally remember. But recently, I have had more success. Probably because I found herbs that basically look after themselves – yay! And also I have spent more time remembering they are there and watering them (which is helpful!)
So, the four herbs I have had most success with are Lemongrass (top left), Rosemary (middle left), Oregano (bottom left) and Thyme (big picture). Read on for the deets….
Some of these were planted from seeds and some were bought as little plants. We (it has been a team effort!) have just watered and weeded, occasionally sprayed them with organic pesticide, moved them when they need more room and generally cared for them. And they have just kept growing.
They are all perennial so should be okay in winter, but they can also be bought inside if needed.
Lemongrass grows really well in a pot or in the ground. We started ours off in a pot in springtime. It quickly grew too big so we transplanted it into the ground and it thrived. Lemongrass can be split up into smaller parts and replanted but we have left it big so hopefully it will survive the winter.
Rosemary was much the same as lemongrass. We bought it as a small plant, moved it into the ground and it thrived. We have moved it three times now and it has survived well throughout the summer. Last year we had a rosemary plant and I bought it inside for the winter but it died, so this year I’ll keep the new one out and see what happens.
Oregano was really easy to grow from seed. We planted a whole packet and virtually all of the seeds grew, so we had a lot of plants! We moved the healthiest one to a big pot and it thrived in there. We planted some out in the ground but they haven’t done so well.
Thyme is the oldest plant in our herb garden. It has survived a winter and a summer and multiple transplantings. Like lemongrass it can be split up into smaller plants by carefully digging it up and pulling it apart. This is best done in the morning, then it has the rest of the day to recover from the move.
*One thing I did learn from growing some herbs from seeds is the importance of labeling the area where you plant the seeds. You might think you will remember what you planted where, but it might lead to an annoying few hours googling ‘what do young [insert herb name here] seedlings look like?’ – Yes, that was me!
I hope this is a helpful way to get you growing successful herbs. Feel free to comment with any other herb growing tips or to share how your herb growing is going.