Sowing in the Herb Garden

On a nice day, our attention turns to weeding and planting in the herb garden. For those of you who don't know, the herb garden is less than twelve months old and is a small front garden. It's an improvement from what was there and the addition of pots and some spring colour bring it all to life at this time of year. Considering we only planted this in June of last year and that we didn't start the groundwork until May of last year, this new garden has established quickly, the edges softened by strawberries and chives. This was all down to careful planning and learning that a good plan on paper and a mood board or two does wonders. Also, we decided on what we wanted to grow early on, no point planting herbs you'll never use. That goes for sowing at this time of year in the herb garden.

pig row, herbs, gardening

This week we're direct sowing Shiraz mangetout peas (Kings Seeds) into pots, we used to grow sweetpeas in them but Carol admitted last year that she hates the smell of them after nearly twenty years of being together she dropped this bombshell. We both agreed we like the flowers and therefore why not drop the sweet for the peas. So, we are sowing Shiraz and Kelvedon Wonder. We were going to sow some NE Plus Ultra but the seed was old and we tried to germinate them on damp kitchen towel, sadly they were too far gone and none of them grew.

sowing peas, small space gardening, edible gardens, pig row

Sowing peas in pots is an easy gardening task for you or kids. You can even do it together! We're not advocating child labour unless there's a manure pile to shift. The large seeds are easy to handle and most pea seed packets come with plenty. They're a great addition to small spaces because they'll grow upwards and give a wonderful edible display. We sow the peas in large pots as we would in open ground, broadcasting them evenly over the surface - this simply means scatter them around and make sure they're not all clustered together as if they were waiting for the last bus from town on a rainy night. You can see our scattering below.

gardening, how to sow peas, pig row

Then it is a matter of pushing them down or making a hole up to your first knuckle, popping the pea in and pinching the hole closed afterwards. Then water and wait. Don't forget the label. Fortunately we found some cast iron ones from our old garden, Drovers, they we half buried in the back garden, rusted and bent. A bit of TLC and WD-40 and they're back as new.

gardening, herbs, pig row

Don't forget to date your label - that way if they don't grow you'll know when to give them a stay of execution or when to try again. The peas will need a support to grow up. We use hazel sticks and run jute string around them. We ditched plastic pea support netting many years ago when we discovered a frog half choked in some. Yes, we know such netting is cheap but it is also environmentally unfriendly as it is designed to only last a year or two and cannot be recycled. We saved the frog from the plastic netting but vowed never to use such netting again. We have used jute ever since - it's biodegradable and can be added to compost heaps - and yes it is time consuming to use string but if you want a little of the slow life, ten minutes threading around some string, winding up and up to the top of a wigwam isn't a hardship. There's nothing on television bar Gardeners' World so there's no need to rush inside on a nice day. We're waiting to see if the dahlias we left in pots and mulched last year will come back -- it's been a mild winter -- fingers crossed, we will see, the tubers are still firm.

gardening, pig row

We're sowing some carrots too but we may need to fleece these to get them going. Like the peas they are sowed thinly into sandy soil and then covered with a fine layer of compost. They too get labelled and have the addition of one of those cast iron labels.

gardening, how to sow carrots

The garden, with the addition of a few more pots is looking good. The mint is alive once more, the thyme is great to brush by and the Russian tarragon still tastes awful.

gardening, growing in pots, pig row

The plus side it our new planter on the stone post. We have sowed cut and come lettuce into it and are waiting for the first signs of germination. Heck, if we had time lapse cameras we'd put it on our YouTube channel and give you something to watch. Like all the seeds sowed today, the lettuce is sowed thinly and then covered with a fine layer of compost. We use a pot with drainage holes for this, see our leek post on how to do this.

pig row, how to sow lettuce

Embrace those small space around your front doors this spring and summer, a few pots can really make a difference to how your home feels. It can also provide you with great tastes, we've already started using our rosemary in our Sunday dinner gravy and it is a welcome taste.

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