Chive talkin: Three tasty herbs that are easy to grow in your own garden
HERBS come into their own in summer. If you fancy growing your own instead of always relying on shop-bought herbs, here are three of the easiest – and they'll come back year after year if you look after them.
1. Chives: These onion-flavoured perennials are among the prettiest herbs to grow, their purple-pink globes flowering in early summer, so are ideal in a border or rockery.
The snips from their grass-like stalks have long been added to soups and salads for a peppery taste, or use the edible flowers as colourful decoration.
Sow outdoors in spring, in soil with added organic matter, raked to a fine tilth. You can also sow them indoors for planting in a sunny spot in late spring or summer. Remove faded flower heads and stalks and divide clumps every few years in the autumn.
2. Thyme: This easy-to-grow perennial herb offers so much more than flavour. You can inhale its delicious scent on warm, sunny days, enjoy its summer flowers and huge variety of leaves, which can cascade over walls or thrive in pots and herb borders.
There are many types, so make sure you pick one for cooking.
Thyme needs to be planted in a sunny spot in well-drained soil or in a terracotta pot filled with John Innes No 1 potting compost mixed with 50 per cent potting grit to make a well-drained mix.
The best time to plant is early summer. Good culinary thymes include T. vulgaris and T. x citriodorus.
3. Mint: This is the go-to herb of summer, thrown in to pep up delicious salads, or added to drinks. Plant it in a pot because if you put it in the ground with other herbs or flowers it's likely to take over. Again, not all mint is good for cooking, so be careful with your choice.
Mint thrives in moist but well-drained soil – multipurpose compost will be fine when growing in pots – and many of them prefer some shade during the day. Give mint plenty of water in hot, dry weather and avoid planting different types close together as they may lose their original scent and flavour.
Pick leaves regularly to stop it getting leggy – the flavour is also more intense if you harvest it before it flowers.