We’ve had some gloriously sunny weather throughout April and that’s really warmed up the soil. It’s a great time to get sowing direct into the garden, or pots.
Hardy annuals – like dill, calendula and borage – can be sow direct. Prep the soil beforehand by raking it to a fine tilth. You know how you rub butter into flour when you’re making cakes? That’s the ideal crumby texture you’re looking for. Even if you’re planting into compost, just rub it through so you’re breaking up the bigger chunks.
It’s a good idea to sow them into some kind of pattern, so you’ll be able to tell your herb seedlings from weed seedlings that germinate. Some people sprinkle sand into patterns on the soil and sow into that – straight lines, wavy lines, zig-zags, diagonals – there’s no rules at all. You’ll see as soon as they sprout that this helps you see which are your baby herb plants coming up and which are the weeds that need yanking out.
Once they start coming up, you’ll need to thin them out so that each plant gets enough room to grow. That’ll be about three weeks from sowing them.
HERBS YOU CAN SOW NOW
Chives, dill, fennel, French sorrel, coriander, borage, calendula, basil, chives, garlic chives, summer savoury, parsley (flat leaf and curly) and nasturtiums.
PLANTS FOR FREE
Although many firms are still supplying seeds, it is likely to take a while to reach you, but there are a few tricks you can use to grow while you wait.
If you’ve been shopping at the supermarket and buy herb plants you can often get lots of plants for free just by splitting up the plants. For example, a basil plant sold in the supermarket will often be around 10 different plants. They have just all planted in together to look bushy as possible on the shelf.
If you gently knock it out of the planter, and tease the plants apart you will be able to separate them into different plants that can all be potted on into gritty-ish compost and kept to grow on in a sunny, warm place – and bingo! Free basil plants.
If you have coriander seed in a supermarket packet, you can sow that outside or under cover in the green house.