A visit to the local herb nursery or garden centre is worth wile when starting a new herb garden . Container-grown herb plants, especially perennials, can be purchased and out almost any time of the year. provided the ground id free of frost. The bought-in plants should be small and stocky with the fibrous root formation coming through the base of the pot. This denotes a healthy, well-grown established plant which will more quickly settle down in its new home. The herbs should be well watered and left over night before planting. Remove each plant carefully from its pot disturbing the roots as little as possible.
Easier and, of course more economical way to increase your stock of herbs is to take stem or root cuttings from your already existing and fully grown plants. Stem cutting should be made only from well established, healthy plants. Take cuttings from soft-stemmed plants during the Spring and Summer and from the woody-stemmed herbs like rosemary, sage and hyssop at the end of the Summer.
Cutting of soft leafy stems should be cut 6 in (15 cm) long, just below a leaf bud. Remove all the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings, dip them in water and than in hormone rooting powder. Tap off the excess powder and firmly plant the cuttings to half their length into pots filled with compost. Set the pots in a shady spot and keep the compost dump until the cuttings have rooted. If you are taking a large number of cuttings, they should be set into a shallow trench in sand. The cuttings should be in the shade, firmed well and kept moist until rooted.
For propagating woody-stemmed herbs, a mature side-shoot should be taken from low down on the stem. Pull off a “heel” with the side shoot and remove leaves and buds from the bottom third of the cutting. The cutting should be about 9 in (23 cm) long. Set the cuttings into a narrow trench 3 in (7,5 cm) deep. Sprinkle sand along the bottom and set the cuttings firmly into the trench. The woody-stemmed cuttings can take up to a year to root.
Root cuttings from freshly -rooted herbs such as marsh mallow, comfrey or elecampane can be taken in the Spring or Autumn when the plants are being moved or divided. Cut finger-thick pieces of root into short lengths. Set the pieces of root into a deep flower pot filled with soil and cover with glass or plastic. On the top, cover the whole pot with a peace of newspaper. Set the pot in a shady spot and once the new growth has started, put the plants into individual pots for planting out later.
Once the herb bed is established it requires little attention. Regular hoeing between the plants will keep the bed free of weeds and allow air and moisture to get to the plants. Moisture-loving herbs should be kept well watered in a dry days. In Spring a slow acting fertilizer should be lightly forked into the soil.