As the days get longer, the temperatures warmer and with the first signs of life in the garden, here at Jekka’s we can’t help but get excited for spring.
It is now time to get back into your garden and start tidying up before spring truly kicks in. We have some fantastic online resources to get you ready whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced grower; check out these blogs by Jekka:
- Jekka's tips for sowing seeds
- Jekka's tips for starting a culinary herb garden
- Jekka's advice for what to do in the spring (part of our seasonal tips blog series).
Whilst the temperatures are indeed increasing, it is still vital to be aware of the risk of frost. This can catch many people out as the long range forecast this year indicates that they may still be occurring in mid April, and this can be detrimental to the growth of seedlings.
Jekka’s top tips:
- Practice caution; sow seeds under protection, in a glass house, poly tunnel or on a windowsill.
- Be patient; whilst it might seem like it’s warm enough for seedlings to be planted out into the ground it will still be very cold and any sign of frost can kill many young plants.
- Give plants a chance; whilst a plant might look dead it is likely dormant and will start shooting when the weather warms up. Save pruning until all threats of frosts have past.
In order to help you prune your plants Jekka has produced a number of informative videos for Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora), Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), Myrtle (Myrtis) and Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) that can be seen below. Please also check out Jekka's how to grow herbs videos for some tips on how to sow seeds and take cuttings.
Lemon Verbena is from the family Verbenaceae and is the Rolls Royce of lemon-scented plants. The fresh leaves can be used in fruit puddings, oils & vinegars and to make the best herbal infusion.
If growing in a container, use a soil-based compost with equal part composted fine bark. Place the container in a warm, sunny, light and airy spot. Water well during the growing season and feed whilst it flowers. In winter move the container to a cold greenhouse and allow the compost to nearly dry out. If growing in the ground, it needs protection against frost and wind, and temperatures below 4 degrees C.
The plant will drop its leaves, this is not a sign that it is dead. Never discard the plant until late summer.
To maintain your Lemon Verbena, cut back last years' growth when it starts to shoot in spring to 4 cm or a couple of growing nodes as Jekka demonstrates in her video.
Rosemary is from the family Lamiaceae and is therefore related to Basil, Thyme and Mint. On the farm we grow over 30 types of Rosemary. It has three main habits: upright, arching and prostrate. Read Jekka's Guide to Rosemary to learn more about Rosemary.
Rosemary requires a well-drained soil in a sheltered sunny position. It is frost hardy but in cold climates it prefers to grow against a warm, sunny wall. For Rosemaries grown in containers, Jekka recommends to use a well-drained soil-based compost and advises to only feed after flowering.
This year our Rosemaries got hit hard by the frosts and the keen north east wind. They needed to be pruned back to maintain their shape and remove damaged wood as Jekka demonstrates in her video.
Never cut back plants in the autumn or if there is any chance of frost, as the plant will be damaged or even killed. As with all plants in the Lamiaceae family only cut into the green and not into dead wood.
Southernwood is from the family Asteraceae and it is one of the most bitter herbs known. For centuries it has been renowned as the best moth repellent
Artemisias like a light well-drained soil and sunshine, but will adapt to ordinary soils provided some shelter is given. Jekka's top tip is to feed only in the summer as, if you feed too early, the leaves will lose their silvery foliage and revert to a greener look.
In order to maintain the shape of your Southernwood prune hard back in early Spring when it begins to shoot again as Jekka demonstrates in her video.
Myrtle is a direct descendant of the Greek myrtos, the 'herb of love'. Myrtle forms an attractive evergreen shrub whose leaves are culinary like bay. It has beautiful fragrant white flowers with golden stamens, followed by black/blue berries.
This lovely, tender, aromatic shrub will grow in well-drained soil in full sun. Where you have cold winters, plant against a warm, sheltered wall to restrict the amount of water it receives from rain, and protect it from the winds.
This year all our Myrtles in the Herbetum have been hit by frosts and the keen North East wind. Trim back growth to remove any scorched growth and to maintain its shape in mid-spring after the frosts have finished as Jekka demonstrates in her video.
This shrub grows from old wood and its power of recovery will surprise you, so please do not put it on the compost heap until you are sure it is dead.
Want to know more?
For advice on growing and maintaining herbs, check out ‘Jekka’s Seasonal Tips’ blog series, which includes what to do in your herb garden in early spring, late spring, summer and autumn & winter. Together they form the basis of Jekka’s guide on how to grow herbs.
Herb plants are available and you can organise a collection from our herb farm in South Gloucestershire or at one of our Open Days or Herb Experiences (see our events calendar). Please see our 'Looking Good List' for availability and use our webform or email your list directly to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We no longer offer a general mail order service for our plants but we do offer a limited selection of Jekka's Culinary Herb Boxes.