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Plus pic of peppers for roundell

Potted Herbs

Herbs are really interesting plants to grow and they come in all shapes and sizes. They have so many uses in the kitchen and for many recipes herbs are an essential ingredient in flavouring food.

Many herbs also have medicinal and antiseptic properties and can be used to cure all types of ailments. And of course many herbs make decorative plants that look good when planted in the garden or in pots. Annual herbs live for just one year and these include basil, coriander and dill. Seed of these plants is usually sown in spring in warm conditions and after the danger of frost has passed the young plants can be planted into the garden to mature. Basil in particular needs warmth to thrive. If grown on cold conditions it simply withers away, so always plant in a sheltered sunny position. Parsley is technically a biennial herb, taking two growing seasons to complete its life cycle, but we tend to grow it as an annual. Perennial herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, lemon balm, chives and marjoram live for several years. Some produce woody shrubs and other are herbaceous dying back to ground level in winter. The herbaceous types such as mint and lemon balm spread by underground stems and in some soils they can be a little invasive so are best grown in pots. The vast majority of herbs that we grow originate from the Mediterranean region and many were brought to Britain by the Romans who used them to for medicinal and culinary purposes. Because of where they come from, they all enjoy being grown in a sunny position and prefer a well-drained soil. The more sun they get on them during the growing season, the more flavour they will develop.

When growing in pots terracotta pots are perfect because they are porous and are less likely to become water-logged during the winter months. Growing compost can be a mixture or half and half John Innes no 2 and multipurpose. Stand the pots in a sunny spot and through the summer keep the plants well watered in dry weather. In groups they look very good and will keep you supplied with fresh herbs all year round.

Plant Chillies

Peppers and chilli peppers are becoming very popular and more and more people are growing their own. There are lots of different types available to buy as young plants ranging from the sweet pepper to very hot chillies that blow your head off.

Now is the time to pot young plants into larger pots to grow them on over the summer. Once potted growth them in a greenhouse, conservatory or against a warm sunny wall. Water regularly and as soon as the small fruits start to develop, feed weekly with a high potash fertiliser such as tomato food. The first fruits will be ready to harvest in late summer and with protection they will continue to bear fruits well into the autumn. In fact as a result of the interest in peppers this year at the autumn flower show (September 13-15) we are introducing our very own ChilliFest. It promises to be hot!

Jobs for the Week

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at martin@flowershow.org.uk and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question