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Cut down most of the prickly thorny blackberry bushes in the back garden and freed about 10x1m on one side. Out of this area, about 1x1m must have been used as a herb garden by a previous owner with about 2 layers of bricks showing above the ground with a few mint plants here and there and the rest invaded by blackberry bushes and their stubborn roots. The remaining (9x1m) was occupied by the blackberries.

Would like to use this area for growing herbs and have already ordered some seeds from Haddon's via amazon:

thyme, oregano, sage, mint, basil, coriander, chives,
radish (French breakfast),
Scotch Bonnet chillies

But I am a total newbie and wonder:

Q1. We live in East London. Is it too late in the year to start growing from seed (3rd July now)?

Q2. I don't know anything about soil. When it is dry the area looks dull and grey; when it has rained it looks dark (blackish). Should I add some fertiliser before starting? If so, what do I buy?

Q3. The area outside the herb enclosure square (9x1m) is fairly shallow, about 5cm (2inches). Is that deep enough for growing herbs? Inside the herb enclosure the depth is more than 15cm. I guess this will be enough.

Q4. would any of the herbs and plants above have any chance to produce a harvest this year?

Hints for a newbie would be most welcome.


Hi resander

Good to have you on the forum

Not a great herb grower....but grow a few

Can you increase the depth of soil there?  No chance of digging deeper?  Or add compost to raise the level?

You need to remove all roots ....thorough digging now is essential.  Every trace of mint, blackberry etc, ok?

I would then add blood and bond, chicken pellets, etc.....before any planting.

Seeds should germinate now but check each seed packet.  Maybe buy the odd plant like mint, thyme and oregano.  I would not put any of these in your soil....instead pot these up.  They are invasive if planted in the ground and will simply take over

Best of luck ken 


You could get a crop from Basil in a greenhouse from seed grown now, and radishes will be ok sown now outside.  The rest I would put in as plants if you want to be able to cut anything this season.

Your soil?   Assuming you have removed ALL the blackberry roots, herbs should be ok unless you are on London clay. If you take a handful of the damp soil and squeeze it, what happens? could you make pots out of it? If so you need to dig in lots of humus such as compost or mushroom compost. Herbs don't need fertiliser, it just makes them too lush. They do need well drained soil, so you may also need to add coarse grit.


thyme - This stuff is pretty hardy given good drainage and enough sun. Should be ok to grow from seed.

oregano - not tried growing this, but believe it is a medditeranean herb so should like same conditions as the thyme.

sage - this one is pretty hardy (always a good thing in this country). As the weather is set to improve, worth maybe giving a shot from seed.

mint - would never grow this unless in a pot or within an 'In the ground' container as this stuff spreads!

basil - Not sure if it is worth growing this from seed in a herb garden. Maybe grow this in a pot on a windowsill, keep it small and bushy, then plant out after frosts next year (but keep the roots wet in well-drained soil, whilst giving it enough sun!)

coriander - This should grow quite quickly.

chives - Should be ok to grow too.

radish (French breakfast) - These grow really fast, but not sure id put them in a herb garden.

Scotch Bonnet chillies - This late on, I would maybe treat this similar to the basil by growing in a pot and keeping it happy this year, then planting it out next year.


 I think if it was this late into the year, as you can buy most herbs so cheap, might be more productive to buy them already grown (should be able to get them for 80p - £2 a pot) and plant them out. The chilli is probably also better buying already part-way grown (places like South Devon Chilli Farm are selling plug plants at the moment), especially if you want a crop this year, as chilli's are notoriously hard to look after over the winter months, and usually grown as Annuals if outdoors.


 Hope the above is of some assistance!


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