If you thought herb gardening was too much work, think again. With the right choice of self-seeding herb, and a little bit of help, it’ll virtually plant itself
Many herb seed themselves, and with only a little bit of help, will continue to replant themselves year after year, creating a truly sustainable kitchen garden.
PROS OF SELF-SOWN HERBS
- Usually produce stronger, much healthier plants.
- Germinate and grow in places that are most suitable for optimum growth.
- Evolve and adapt to the local climate and pests.
- Save money and time.
As long as you leave them to flower, many plants will enthusiastically produce seeds providing you with free plants, season after season. Keep in mind that seeds left on the plant to dry naturally will have a longer viability.The hardest part of growing a self-sown garden is learning to recognise the young seedlings so you don’t weed them out. Select the strongest and most vigorous plants and leave them unharvested to flower and go to seed. If you are happy for the plant to be where it is, allow it to do its thing. If you want plants to grow in another place, pick the seed-bearing stems, break them up and scatter them where you want them to grow. The leaves and stems will provide mulch and protection for the emerging seedlings.Some of the more enthusiastic self-seeders are fennel, feverfew, tansy, evening primrose, borage and sorrel. Manage these by cutting the flowers off before seeds form. If a plant seeds itself too vigorously, leave it to grow about 10-15cm high, then cut it down and chop up the leaves and stems. These rot down, adding nutrients back to the soil.
With certain plants you have to keep an eye on disease. This includes self-sown tomatoes and potatoes which can carry diseases from the previous season. If you have had problems with disease, transplant the culprits into containers out of the garden to make sure the disease isn’t perpetuated.