Anyway a replacement arrived today. So whilst I have been away I have been having a spring clean and a general tidy up.
There is the new summer herb garden planted in a large metal container I found on the tip
I have already used some of the rosemary on my bbq coals to give the meat a lovely flavour and some of the chives I put with some butter and drizzle over some boiled new potatoes- delicious!
Find a sunny spot with well-drained soil and your herbs will thrive outdoors.
Mint and parsley will tolerate the most moisture, but no variety likes to be waterlogged, so think Mediterranean - the home of so many culinary herbs - and you'll get and idea of the growing conditions most prefer. Choose a planting spot that's not overshadowed by a high fence or trees.
The perfect place
Once you've found the ideal conditions, here are the planting options:
Make a mini garden by placing your herbs all together in one bed for easy collection
Add to a border - plant perennial herbs (except mint, which would take over the whole bed) among other herbaceous plants to add fragrance to the bed, or blend annual herbs withh summer bedding plants, such as petunias and busy Lizzies. To make planting easier, you can simply sink the plastic pots into the ground. Alternatively, use herbs to edge a path or border - chives are especially pretty in this setting.
Alternate with paving stones by removing every other stone and replacing with herbs such as mint, thyme and lavendar
Dig out a circle in a gravelled area and create and eye catching herb wheel by dividing into equal sections
Create a fragrant seat by sitting herbs around a garden bench where you can enjoy the relaxing aroma.
To get all plants or seedlings off to a good start in the open, dig over the ground, remove large stones and mix in some compost or peat moss (available from garden centres) - this is especially important on clay soil. Water the site thoroughly the day before planting then, the following day, dig holes ready for the larger plants and water the soil lightly again. Plant out your herbs on a cloudy day or in the morning or evening so they won't have to cope with the full force of the sun straight away.
Tip plants out of their pots into your hand, keeping as much soil as possible around the roots just below ground level, and press the soil around the roots. Fill the hole with more soil to level it, then give the plants their first on-site watering. Water every couple of days until new leaves appear - a sign that they've taken root.
Feed herbs with liquid fertiliser once every one or two weeks, depending on your soil type, the site and the growing instructions.
PRESERVING YOUR HERBS
It's easy to make your herbs last, by drying, freezing or microwaving them.
When to harvest During summer - before the flowers form - pick herbaceous perrenials, including marjoram, mint and fennel. In late spring and summer, harvest annual herbs like dill, coriander and basil. Evergreen herbs such as bay, rosemary, sage and thyme can be picked any time. Cut stems with sharp scissors, taking only as many as you need as the soon wilt, or preseve them in the following ways:
Drying Tie herbs in bunches and hang upside-down in a cool, airy place away from strong light, for example on a herb dryer. When leaves feel crsip, after four to seven days, crumble lightly and store in airtight containers.
Freezing This can be done in two ways:
Place small sprigs of herbs such as basil, dill, parsley and thyme in freezer bags, push out the air, seal and freeze. They will keep for up to six months.
Pack small sprigs or whole or chopped leaves, and some flowers like chives and marjoram, in ice-cube trays, cover with water and freeze. Add frozen cubes to soups and stevws, and those with whole sprigs or flowers to cold drinks. To use the herbs in creamy sauces, thaw the cubes in a sieve.
Microwaving Place sprigs of herbs such as basil, parsley and dill in a circle, stems to the centre, on kitchen paper. Microwave on low power for 30 seconds, but check every few seconds as timings will vary between herbs. Remove the dried herbs to a wire rack and leave in a warm room for a few hours before crumbling and storing in airtight containters.