Monty Don has been guiding BBC Two viewers through sowing, planting and caring for vegetables and crops since Gardeners’ World returned earlier this spring. In a recent episode of the popular horticultural show, the presenter showed fans how to create their own Mediterranean herb planter, but he went against his own advice.
“Lots of us grow vegetables, but we tend to slightly overlook growing herbs,” Monty began.
“Herbs are something you can use in every meal and you don’t need a garden – they grow really well in pots.
“I’m going to make a little Mediterranean herb garden in a container.
“This is a terracotta pot which is much better for Mediterranean herbs than plastic because it doesn’t hold water so well. And the biggest enemy of Mediterranean herbs is sitting in cold, wet soil,” he explained.
“Get a curved piece of an old pot and you put it over the top of the hole which doesn’t stop the drainage in any way but does stop the compost falling through.
“Now, compost for Mediterranean herbs is absolutely critical and I’m doing what I say you should never do, I’m recycling spent compost – it’s extremely gritty – and what you want for Mediterranean herbs is poor growing conditions,” Monty said.
“So spent compost, is for them, ideal if it is gritty enough.
“We’ll put some in the bottom… now the easiest way to do that is simply buy some horticultural grit and mix it 50/50 with a normal peat-free compost.
“That is the base that it’s going to go in. Now I want a centrepiece of rosemary, and this is a particularly upright variety called Miss Jessop’s upright and will thrive in this environment.
“That will go in the middle and that will grow about double that size.
“And then I’m going to have some sage; now, you’ve got ordinary sage, you can get pineapple sage, you can get purple sage – although it looks good, I don’t think tastes as good as green sage.
“And best of all, you’ve got a narrow-leaved sage, and this I’ve grown from seed, and although the leaves are very narrow, they are absolutely delicious,” the presenter commented.
“So we’ll pop that there like that, and in fact, we’ve got room for two sages.
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“Now, we definitely want some thyme and like sage, there are a number of different types of thyme.
“You can get a compact form, which has got softer grown and, of course, it’s the soft growth that you want.
“Just by touching that I can tell you, the fragrance is fantastic,” he teased viewers.
“I’m going to plant that in there, and there’s also a lemon thyme which many people say is best for cooking – so I’m going to add that in too.
“I definitely want some for the oregano; it spreads like a weed in the herb garden, but we let it because when it flowers, the bees love it.
“This is a prostrate rosemary – prostrate rosemary wants to grow sideways and there’s no reason why you can’t grow it to hang over the side of a pot,” Monty said.
“I’m going to put some soil around that… and then, use a lot of horticultural grit. It’s not just a top-dressing, this is actually right around the roots and it means there is no risk of them sitting in too much moisture because too water will drain through that and away.
“Now it is important that you put this in the sunniest spot that you have, they really cannot have too much sunshine or heat.
“And if you’ve only got shade, then probably, Mediterranean herbs are not going to be very successful for you – but there are lots of other herbs you can grow.”
Gardeners’ World airs Friday nights at 9pm on BBC Two.