Winter herbs in the greenhouse

At a time of year when those you buy in the supermarkets are at a premium price and shipped thousands of miles before they reach your locality, then growing your own has an even greater appeal.  They are often ‘forced’ in industrial-sized greenhouses using artificial light which strips out the natural flavour.

Apart from the benefits of the freshness, as with any home-grown produce, you will bring a zing to your meals and a beautiful aroma to your greenhouse.

Herbalist and gardener, Jackie Day, writes in The Ecologist that, by choosing one of the more robust and hardy types, it is hard to go wrong with culinary herbs and you should derive high yields.  She adds that herbs can also bring significant health benefits, such as thyme for the lungs and sage and rosemary to benefit the brain.

You need to get to know your herbs – some are woody, some delicate; some grow prolifically and others are harder to maintain.  You’ll find that some cannot be kept alive during the winter at all, whilst others will last about two years.

Look at mint and lemon balm if you want them to multiply easily, dill for summer growing and parsley, chives, bay, marjoram, mint, sage, and oregano for your greenhouse or window ledge.

Since your herbs need a minimum of six hours’ direct sunlight PLUS six to eight hours of indirect light, plan their position carefully.  We know it’s hard in British climes, but a good position in your greenhouse or on a south-facing window sill should provide this.  Some people use artificial lights – the professionals use full spectrum lights though fluorescent lights will also help.

As they grow, be sure to rotate your herbs and keep them at a constant 13-21oC.

E-How’s useful article on bringing on your herbs will tell you all about watering and maintenance – see this at How to Grow Herbs Indoors in the Winter |

Read Sophie Laggan at the Ecologist’s thoughts on growing herbs at

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