Herbal Haven Newsletter Autumn 2012

What a lovely autumn we have had in Essex. For the most part it has been dry and sunny and although wet now the temperatures are still holding up. It meant the last shows of the season were fairly good. The team have all finished their work here for this year and are off doing exciting things like following the British cricket team matches through India!

At this time of year we are busy sowing things like wild garlic and garlic bulbs ready for the spring.

 wild garlic bulbs

Last year we had a lot of problems with mice pulling them out and eating them. They are back this year and so we have invested in some sonic mouse deterrents.  These are either battery powered or mains supplied and emit a high pitched noise that cannot be heard by the human ear but claims to be very irritating to rodent hearing. A bit like the white noise effect in humans I’m assuming. It takes up to two weeks to be effective so we will have to wait and see. We also have one or two very naughty squirrels which keep burying their winter cache in the pots. Only this morning I found a very sorry looking caraway thyme lying on the floor and in its place in the pot a small crab apple!

 squirrel sown crab apple

Autumn is a good time of year for sowing seed which need cold weather to trigger germination, things such as sweet cicely. Many of the wild flower seeds also germinate well with this kind of treatment. The easiest method is to fill and level a seed tray or pot with seed sowing compost, place the seed on top and sprinkle a light covering of compost on top. The depth of the covering compost should be the same as the diameter of the seed – if buried to deep there will be a tendency for the seed to rot. This tray or pot can be left outside during winter – if there is a long dry spell it might need watering, but otherwise it can just be left. Cover with chicken wire or similar if there is any chance of squirrels, mice or birds looking for a free lunch. It doesn’t matter if it freezes solid during cold spells. Once the weather warms up in the spring the seed will begin to grow. At this point it is worthwhile giving a weekly liquid feed as the winter weather will have depleted most of the food from the soil. Once big enough the individual plants can be teased from the tray or pot and put into a pot of their own. It is important not to damage the roots when transplanting and to water only as needed once in their own pot so the compost doesn’t become too wet around the roots.


autumn sown angelica and a seedling teased out

Earlier in the year I had a phone call from Channel 4 who were doing a series of cookery programmes with Gordon Ramsey. They came out to have a look at the nursery and then asked if I would do a ‘piece’ on herbs for one of the programmes. I said yes with a bit of trepidation knowing that I would never be able to watch it myself. The day for filming dawned the same as every other day this spring - with pouring rain. Full waterproofs were the order of the day, I borrowed my daughters rather smart Berghaus jacket though, as my compost stained one was definitely not one for a TV appearance. The film crew consisted of four, a producer, a sound man, a film man and one other who asked all the questions and prompted me with ‘a bit more enthusiasm about the thyme’ and ‘tell me about basil again, what is it good with’? In all it was an enjoyable experience, something different on a rainy June morning. The programme was on air a couple of weeks ago on and I have included the link below if anyone is interested in watching.



That’s all for now, have a great autumn.