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Find your answers to common questions below. Click on a question to view the answer.

I am having trouble keeping my Basil (applies to all annual Basils)

Basil as a growing plant is a very, tender annual in this country. Plants are best purchased in early Summer and should not be placed outside until night temperatures are warm. Even then, a wet and windy Summer's day will be enough to spoil a basil plant. We would, therefore, often suggest that plants are kept in a large container with good drainage and placed on a sunny window-sill in the house or in a conservatory or greenhouse. If possible, only water your Basil at the hottest part of the day in order for the compost to drain before a cool night. Give plenty of humidity and liquid feed when the weather is warm and reduce this on bad weather days. Pinch out flowers as they form and take leaves for eating from the top shoots to encourage bushy growth. By mid-Summer, you should have enough foliage to harvest for freezing purposes and, with care, your Basil should last inside until the Autumn.

Is there a perennial Basil?

Yes. The Basil ‘African Blue’ will last through the winter if the following care is given. Grow outside from June until September in a sunny, sheltered position. Harvest the leaves in the same way as classic Basil but leave just a few shoots so you can enjoy the beautiful, mauve flowers. Bring into the house as the nights grow cooler and over-winter on a warm, sunny window-sill. The night temperature should not fall below 10 degrees Celsius and the surrounding air must not be too humid. Reduce watering during this period.

Why are some of your herbs out of stock

You mave have noticed that some herbs are out of stock. This could be due to 2 reasons:
1. They may be generally sold out. In which case we will have more growing on in the tunnels and we will have more very soon.
2. The herb may be out of season. We grow as naturally as possible with no excessive heat or light. This means that, for example, we don't grow Basil until the weather warms up in mid April.

How do I shape a Bay tree?

Bays will tolerate extensive pruning during frost- free periods. To create a standard or pyramid specimen tree, first choose a young plant with a straight, central growth stem. Allow the tree to grow to the required height without pinching out the tip. Then stop the height growth by pinching out the top and start shaping! All you need to remember is to prune to just above an inward facing bud, so that all new shoots grow towards the trunk . Regular trimming in this way will produce a neat and bushy shape.

How can I stop my Thyme becoming ‘leggy’?

Firstly, create a strong, healthy plant by growing your thyme in the sunniest place possible in a very, free-draining soil. Thymes will survive winter wind and cold if their roots do not sit in a heavy, waterlogged position. If growing in a container, choose a pot with drainage holes in the bottom and fill with a gritty, soil based compost. Avoid using a general purpose peat compost as this will cause your thyme to develop soft, weak growth lacking in scent and flavour. Plants grown inside will also suffer with this problem so try to give your plants as much fresh air as possible. Then all you have to remember is to trim off all of the flowers as they fade. This is especially important for prostrate, carpeting thymes, which always flower so profusely. Leaving on a thick covering of decaying flowers will suffocate and rot any fresh, new growth below. Removing dead flowers will encourage dense re-growth which will reduce the likelihood of leggy plants and winter fatalities.

Does this apply to my straggly Lavender also?
Yes! Following the above advice will prolong the life of lavender, as well. Remove the faded flower stems or cut the flower stems for drying just as the flowers are opening. A light prune in the Spring will also help.

 I think my Lemon Verbena has died this winter

Are you sure? Lemon Verbena is a deciduous plant and the stems will look like dead twigs in Winter and will take a long time to spring to life. Provided you have kept it in a frost- free place, you should start to see some stubby, green shoots appearing in April.

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