Whether you have a few pots beside the back door or a patch in the garden especially designated for your favourite culinary herbs, there’s such simple pleasure of being able to snip and gather fresh, aromatic leaves for the kitchen.

As spring unfolds into early summer, make the most of your edibles by…

  • Now that the soil is beginning to warm, sowing directly into a prepared seed bed or border .  Try pot marigold as well as parsley and chives.
  • Sow basil seeds in the warmth of a sunny window sill or heated greenhouse.
  • If you have a cold frame, you can germinate borage, chervil, dill and coriander under cover.
  • When there is no chance of a frost, begin to cut back the bay, lavender and thyme which will need tidying after the harsh winter months.
  • Chives can easily be divided, along with salad burnet, lady’s mantle and tarragon.

Companion planting. 

If you do not have the space for a designated herb garden, try growing your culinary herbs in borders.  They make great companion plants alongside shrubs, fruit bushes as well as vegetables.

  • Garlic besides peach trees prevents leaf curl.
  • Chives wards off black spot in roses and scab on apple trees.
  • Rosemary helps to deter carrot fly in the vegetable patch.
  • White fly tend to avoid fennel so is often planted beside cabbages, but it can be an invasive herb so needs to be kept in check.
  • Borage is attractive to pollinators so is beneficial besides runner beans and strawberry plants.  It is also highly attractive to black fly.
  • Horseradish improves disease resistance in potatoes.

Our favourite spring herb recipes…

  • Roughly chop or tear wild garlic leaves and add to a risotto or prepare a flavoured butter along with lemon zest and rub under the skin of a chicken before roasting.
  • Combine parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon, roughly chop and add to egg dishes.
  • Crystalize primrose flowers to decorate cakes and desserts.
  • Finely chop rosemary and rub into the skin of lamb before roasting.  Or try piercing the skin and inserting slithers of garlic along with anchovies for additional flavour.

If the weather is warm, add hardier stems of rosemary to the barbecue for the most appetising aroma.