Spring to-do-list for a herb garden
If you enjoy growing herbs in your garden, then spring is probably one of the most rewarding times and one of the busiest. Perennial herbs that hibernate during the winter are just starting to poke their heads above the ground and there are fresh signs of new growth almost daily. There is a lot to do in the herb garden during early spring, including sowing annual herbs and salad leaves outside and also sowing a few trays in the greenhouse to harvest earlier. Here is a short list of things to be doing in the herb garden during April, along with some of my favourite herbs to grow and how to use them.
April is the time to tidy up evergreen herbs such as bay, sage, myrtle and thyme. Make sure you cut back any old woody shoots and straggly growth before feeding the plants with a general fertiliser. Rosemary is one of the earliest flowering herbs, providing a splash of delicate mauve coloured flowers in early spring. When the flowers begin to fade, prune the plant and feed it, and it will soon put on fresh new growth. Just as you would with perennial herbaceous plants, spring is the time to divide perennial herbs. Some herbs like lemon balm, lovage and chives can get a bit big for their boots, so dig up those that have formed large clumps and divide them before planting them back into new places in the herb garden. Not only will you get some nice new plants, you will also refresh the growth of the original plant. Clump-forming perennial herbs will need lifting and dividing about every three to four years.
Spring is also a time for propagation. Take root cuttings of tarragon, mint and bergamot. Layer old, woody herbs such as thyme and sage by pinning down a stem and covering it with soil. In a few short weeks it will reshoot. In the greenhouse, prick out any seedlings you have grown into individual pots and eventually harden them off by placing them in a cold frame or outside during the day.
Herbs to grow in spring
Salad herbs make a delicious addition to early spring salads and the flavour of those you grow yourself is much more intense than supermarket bought leaves. Grow a mixture of textures, colours and flavours by sowing coriander, summer savory, rocket, basil, American land cress, chicory and dill. Grow pineapple, blackcurrant and tangerine sage in the greenhouse and transfer to containers to be placed on patios and in other places where their fragrance can be enjoyed. Lemon, orange and French thymes are best for cooking. Grow them in a sunny, dry spot where they will cope admirably with a possible summer drought.