Growing herbs

by James Alexander-Sinclair

There are some people whose names are so easily connected with what they do that they don't need surnames, such as Madonna, Topol or Rasputin.

Herb seedlings at a nurseryThere are some people whose names are so easily connected with what they do that they don't need surnames, such as Madonna, Topol or Rasputin. We all know who they are and that they are, respectively, best known for:

i) Making music (and, it must be said, bad films).

ii) Being The Fiddler on the Roof.

iii) Providing the inspiration for a hit  by 70s disco band, Boney M, set in Tsarist Russia.

So, to bring things back to gardening, who do you think of when herbs are mentioned? It can be nobody else but Jekka. She is our equivalent of Pele or Bono.

I went to visit her farm the other day, where we had a fine afternoon investigating all sorts of herbs from the mundane (but essential) to the super-exotic Chilean guavas (Ugni molinae), the fruits of which taste delicious and are much loved by Jekka's dog, and her extensive collection of myrtles. It is always fascinating to visit a proper growing nursery where you can see the plants at every stage, from little baby seedlings to the larger plants that are being groomed - already -  for displays at next year's RHS Flower Shows.

Herbs are one of the few things that can be used the whole way through the winter. A pot of rosemary, some mint (Egyptian mint is, apparently, the most evergreen) and a bay tree will give you some basics. Sage works well as part of mixed borders and thyme is always useful.

Jekka's farm is usually closed to the public but there are 15 open days next year when everybody is welcome.

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Gardeners' World Web User 10/11/2010 at 13:52

Topol and Rasputin were surnames!

Gardeners' World Web User 10/11/2010 at 22:13

I always grow herbs every year and get a good turn out every year. The problem is that herbs grow so much that other herbs don't get light and if they are sprouts then they could quite possible die. How can I stop this happening without cutting it back

Gardeners' World Web User 11/11/2010 at 23:01

James, it must it all seem so worthwhile when you receive such helpful posts like the first one.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/11/2010 at 13:41

how do you contain herbs to stop them going raampent,ihave a small garden

Gardeners' World Web User 10/04/2011 at 10:04

I'm new to herb growing and would like to build the herb garden I saw Alan T build on TV. As I remember it, it was a structure made of breeze blocks surrounded by soil with lawn on top and places for herbs to be planted along the sides. Can anyone tell me where I can get hold of the plans or the video. thanks

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