In the current situation you may not be able to find herb plants in your local garden centre, if this is the case you can with a little extra care use supermarket grown herbs. A word of warning though – they are not hardy, meaning they are only suitable for keeping indoors – so before you can plant them you will need to keep them indoors for around three weeks, harvesting them very, very sparingly.
After this period harden them off outside for around a five to seven days- (place the plants outside during the daytime and bring them back in at night) this gets them acclimatised to the outdoors and ready to pop them into containers where they will romp away very quickly. You will need to follow this process again around late summer time to ensure a good succession, providing fresh herbs way into the autumn.
At Petersham Nurseries we have the luxury of a beautiful kitchen garden where we cram full of many different varieties of herbs ready for the chefs to add into their delicious creations. Top of the list for our chefs are: Borage, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, and Basil – not forgetting Moroccan mint.
Out of these, borage is best grown from seed where you want it to grow – it requires a little more room than the others but the one we love the most. The pretty little blue flowers are edible and are sprinkled over pasta and pastry alike. Once established the tips of the plant make for delicious borage fritti.
Generally, herbs aren’t too fussy and will cope quite well in containers as long as they are around 40 cm deep, have drainage holes and are filled with a soil-based compost such as John Inns No2. Failing that a good organic water retaining compost is also suitable.
Regular watering is really important and if you are able to site them out of the midday sunshine this will be much easier to manage and also encourage a strong steady growth. Also give them a liquid every two to three weeks with an organic seaweed fertilizer and this will help speed up the growth for a regular supply.