Alan Titchmarsh: How to lift herbs from the garden for winter
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Herbs are a great way to add flavour to dishes, especially in the winter months. However, fresh herbs are not always easy to find in the winter months. Dry herbs can be used, but they often don’t possess the same flavour.
In a 2016 video for BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Alan Titchmarsh shared how to lift herbs from the garden before to grow and harvest indoors.
Alan said herbs are “vital” ingredients in “bouquet garni” and in winter soups and stews.
The gardening expert said herbs like bay are evergreen so can stay outdoors all year round.
If you live in a particularly cold area, even bay leaves can get “burned a bit” though, so may need to be brought indoors.
Alan continued: “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 like basil, coriander, annuals that we sow afresh every year.
“Yet, other perennial herbs which tend to die down in winter like mint and chives, their interests and their savoury uses can be prolonged, by digging them up now, and making sure that you’re putting them in a place where through the winter you can carry on encouraging to grow.”
The gardening expert said the herbs won’t look particularly attractive.
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However, the prospect of having fresh chives through winter “might convince you”.
Alan showed viewers how to dig up herbs and plant them in a pot.
The garden pro hacked off a lot of the herbs to encourage “lots more new growth”.
He continued: “You can now set about dividing this up into pieces, just pull it apart, and all these little tiny bulbs will separate in your hands, and you can go small as you want.
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“Have several pots on different windowsills at different stages of growth.”
Alan said you can use plastic pots if you prefer but they’re not “terribly pretty”.
He said: “I infinitely prefer to put a good clump like this in a clay pot with some ordinary multi-purpose peat-free compost in there, work it around with your fingers, and you want to bury this at the same sort of depth that it was growing in the garden.
“Lightly firm it with your fingers, and leaving enough space on the top, a gap to make sure you get some water in there, and then it’s just really a case of tidying it up.
“I know it’s not the most ornamental plant you will ever have, but believe me in a few weeks time, this is going to start pushing up new growth from below, and the prospect of having fresh chives right the way through the winter, amply makes up for the bit of work that you put into it at the start.”
Alan said you can do the same with mint herbs if you don’t have chives.
Mint is particularly invasive in the right soil so it’s best to plant it alone in one pot.
Alan added: “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 those nasty dried things that are the alternative. It’s worth doing!”
Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs on Sunday at 10am on ITV
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