‘Feast of fresh herbs’: Alan Titchmarsh shares how to grow herbs in winter – ‘worth doing’

Alan Titchmarsh shares how to lift herbs before winter

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Alan Titchmarsh shares various different gardening tips including how to grow herbs. In a 2016 video on BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine’s YouTube channel, the expert recommended bringing certain herbs inside for winter.

Alan said: “Where would we be without herbs to flavour our food, to add that delicacy and excitement to our meals, even in winter in things like bay, which of course are a vital ingredient in bouquet garni and in those lovely winter soups and stews.

“Being evergreen it can stay out all the year round, except in the coldest localities, where it may get burned a bit.

“The same is true of rosemary, both evergreens that can live in the garden all year round.

“There are others though that come autumn and winter will disappear completely…basil, coriander, annuals that we sow afresh every year.

“Other perennial herbs which tend to die down in winter like mint and chives here, their interests and their savoury uses can be prolonged, by digging them up and making sure that you’re putting them in a place where through the winter you can carry on encouraging to grow.”

Alan then took the chives he had just dug up and cut the top of the herb off.

He said: “By planting it inside, it’s going to encourage lots more new growth to come from below.”

The expert then pulled the herb plant apart, to make it fit the size of the container he was working with.

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“You can go as small as you want, have several pots on different windowsills,” he said.

Alan added: “You can go for plastic if you like, but they’re not terribly pretty. I infinitely prefer to put a good clump in a clay pot with some ordinary multi-purpose peat-free compost in there, work it around with your fingers.

“You want to bury this at the same sort of depth it was growing in the garden. 

“Lightly firm it with your fingers, and leave enough space on the top, a gap to make sure you get some water in there.

“Then it’s just really a case of tidying it up.”

Alan said that although it isn’t the most “ornamental” plant to have on your windowsill, the herbs will be worth it within just a couple of weeks of repotting.

He said: “The prospect of having fresh chives right the way through winter amply makes up for the bit of work you put into it at the start.

“You can do the same with mint because if you plant mint roots in a tray like this they’ll start coming up and then your windowsill becomes a feast of fresh herbs rather than those nasty dried things that are the alternative.

“It’s worth doing!”

Chives should be watered well, keeping the soil moist but not drenched.

Both chives and mint require minimal maintenance, although making sure any faded leaves are snipped off is essential.

Chives should be rejuvenated every few years by lifting and dividing into smaller clumps to help with growth.

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