January and February are the times when you should be planning your herb garden.
You can do a lot of this from indoors - which is just as well, because it's very cold outside at the moment.
First of all, decide what herbs you're going to grow.
Assess how last year's plants performed and decide if you want more or less of something and/or different things
You will need a rough plan of how you're going to lay out your herb garden - just use a piece of paper and write in where you want to put things - keep in mind such things as height - for example, don't put creeping thyme at the back and lavender at the front.
Bear in mind that whilst most herbs like sun, some don't - check out the Growing Herbs navbar on the website to ensure you've got the right aspect.
Some herbs (chives, lavender etc) make good edging plants for your borders - by sowing seeds, you will get a lot of plants for your money.
I like to have a few culinary herbs as close to my back door as possible - this year, I'm going to be using an old wheelbarrow (with holes in the bottom) to plant basil, parsley, chives, oregano, mint (sunk into the soil in a pot), sage and thyme.
My lavender, bay and other shrubby herbs will stay in the borders.
Look around your garden or junk shops to find unusual containers - old sinks, tubs, casks, watering cans - anything really to add some interest.
A job that should be done if you didn't do it at the back end of last year, is to take your plant pots and seed trays and give them a good wash.
Knock out the old, dead plants if you haven't already done so - put them on your compost heap if you have one - just tear up the roots and loosen the soil so that they rot down quicker.
Use some warm soapy water and give the pots and trays a good wash.
Rinse thoroughly so that no soap remains and leave them to dry naturally.
Keep them somewhere clean so that they're ready to use when you need them.
Make sure you add some Cheshunt Compound to your shopping list if you don't already have some - I always use it on my seedlings to prevent
Can I Use Last Year's Seeds?
If you have some seed left from previous years, then you can check its viability before buying fresh.
Simply take a few seeds and sprinkle them onto damp kitchen towel.
Cover them with some more kitchen towel and check daily to see if they have germinated.
If you get a fairly good strike rate - say, more than 50% - then you don't need to buy seed this year, you can simply use what you have left.
I am still using French Bean seeds from a packet which I bought 3 years ago - the date said 2007 and I've got 100% germination from my trial this year (2010).
If you go here you will see that I have compiled an online catalogue of herbs.
It runs to four pages and you navigate around by the links at the bottom of each page.
You will be able to make a list of which herbs you think will be of use to you - there will be some familiar ones and some you've never thought of before.
There is a lot of information for each herb - I've done it deliberately that way so that you can compare and make a choice.
The first pages are seeds and the next pages are plants - the plants will be available later in the season.
If you click through, you will be taken in a new window to Naturehills which is a highly reputable seed and plant nursery.
You can close that window and will still be on The Herb Guide pages.
It's best to make your list and get your seed order in early if you want some specialist herbs or just the first choice.
This might be the year you decide to try Growing Herbs for Profit.
Read this page which outlines how to start, potential markets etc and also click on the link at the bottom to get the gift book from Mike McGroaty.
Enjoy your planning and see you next month.
By the way - I have uploaded my 50 Fish and Seafood Soup Recipes eBook as a 5 part eCourse - please visit here to get your copy.
Recent new and updated pages can all be found on the Herb Guide Blog.
I have written an eCourse 8 Essential Culinary Herbs which I am giving away to people who subscribe to my newsletter.
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