We mentioned last week some flowers suitable for sowing now, so this week I’ve put together a list of herbs you can sow now, from seed indoors on a windowsill - providing you haven’t used up all your window space with the flower seeds we spoke about last week. Home grown herbs are great for flavour and most are happy enough growing in containers which means you can keep them close to the house - near the back door or even in the kitchen for easy access and you’ll be more likely to use them if they’re handy to get to. Try to grow your herbs in a bright, sunny location and make sure they have good drainage. Some herbs are annual and some perennial - the annual herbs, like Basil and Coriander, you can sow every 2 or 3 weeks for a continual supply and the perennial herbs can be grown in pots or in the ground and harvested when required. One of the most popular and a real customer favorite is Basil and I’ve selected a few varieties that are worth considering - Sweet Basil, the classic and best know type, great for pesto's and salads, Lemon Basil, distinctive flavour, great with chicken and fish and salads, Piccolino Basil - which is a compact bushy variety that’s great for pots and full flavoured and Thai Basil, rich aniseed flavour, great in salads and an essential in Thai and Asian dishes. These varieties can be sown all year round for indoor crops, sow them about a quarter inch deep in small pots of compost. Water them well and place them in a warm position, around 15-20 degrees Celsius and the seedlings usually appear in a week or two from sowing. Grow them in cooler, but not cold conditions. You can bring these plants to outside conditions from May, avoiding any frosts or keep them inside in a cool well lit area. The leaves are best picked immediately before use and throw them into your cooked dishes at the last minute for maximum flavour.
Coriander is an easy to grow leafy herb - great for curries, chutneys, salads or my favorite soup carrot & coriander. Calypso is a great variety and ideal for ‘cut and come’ again crops. Calypso is a nice bushy type and slow to bolt. The seeds can be a little slow to germinate so very gently, slightly crushing the seeds can help speed up the germination and you can sow seeds every 2 or 3 weeks for successional or continuous supply. Sow the seeds a quarter of an inch deep thinly in small pots of compost, a temperature of 15 -20 degrees is perfect and grow them on a light windowsill. Pick the leaves as required and if you pick a few leaves from each plant they will regrow for 3 or 4 cuts. You can freeze or dry the leaves but best used fresh for flavour
Dill is another popular herb, the leaves are traditionally used in fish and egg dishes, and can be chopped into soups and salads or used in pickles. Nano is a great dwarf variety, great compact plants and is another herb perfect for windowsill growing and in patio containers. Sow the seeds in the same way as Basil and Coriander in small pots of compost in a warm position and use the leaves fresh for best flavour adding the leaves just before cooking is complete.
A tasty hardy perennial herb, Garlic Chives is a great one that can be sown indoors all year round. It has flat leaves with a subtle taste that’s great for herb butter. The flowers are edible and great for salads, stir fries or finely chopped into cream cheese. You can harvest the leaves once they’re about 6 inches or so and pick a few leaves from each plant so they regrow quickly. Similar to the other herbs, 15-20 degrees temperature to start in small pots of compost and seedlings usually appear after 2 or 3 weeks and you can then grow them on in cooler but not cold conditions.
Sage & Parsley are also ideal for sowing now for harvesting all year round and seeds of Cress and Alfalfa are great for really quick harvesting ready within a week or two - so great for children to grow & adults who like a quick turnaround - great for sandwiches and salads and really easy to grow.
For all of these you can re-use small pots that you already have with some multi purpose compost - you’ll have lovely fresh herbs, with the unbeatable “homegrown” flavour and all easy to grow and a very cost effective and rewarding project to take on.
A few jobs for the week ahead;
- Still lots of time to plant bare root trees and hedging plants - Beech, Laurel, Whitethorn all perfect to get into the ground - perhaps look out for some native varieties like Alder, Hazel, Guelder rose and Blackthorn - you could consider a mixed collection of native varieties for a hedge or shrub border.
- With the cold weather keep an eye out for the birds in your garden - keep bird feeders filled and top them all up with seed, peanuts, sunflower hearts, nyjer seed or high energy fat balls.
- If you have any dormant plants that need are in the wrong place and need moving now is the time to move them to a more suitable place.
- You can use a greenhouse fumigator or smoke bomb to clean out your glass house or polytunnel from any unwelcome insect pests before you start planting up for the season - easy to use each fumigator will cover around 8m2 up to 120m2 depending on what you need to get rid of.