Seven herbs to grow this winter and use in your festive dishes

Families wanting to cook Christmas dinner with their own freshly grown herbs are being offered advice on how to grow them over winter.

The strong aroma and lovely taste of the sage plant make it a handy herb to have around
The strong aroma and lovely taste of the sage plant make it a handy herb to have around

The experts at GardeningExpress.co.uk shared how to keep herbs alive and tasty over the colder months.

Mint is perfect for making lamb sauce, fresh parsley is tasty with turkey and sage is a great all-rounder with legends linking it to Mary and baby Jesus.

Some herbs are stable enough to withstand frost and snow, whereas others will be setting up camp in the house or conservatory.

Rosemary is perfect on roast potatoes but also makes a great plate decoration during the winter too

Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express said: “Tender herbs, like basil, are likely to only come dried or frozen by the time Christmas rolls around.

“However, Christmas dinner always tastes best fresh. Festive classics like thyme and rosemary are very hardy and can withstand snowy weather.

“Others, like oregano, can be grown inside during chillier months. All they usually need is a well-draining soil, container, and a sunny windowsill.”

Gardening Express’ seven herbs to grow this winter:

1. Myrtle

This tasty herb has been grown in England since the 16th century and the berries go beautifully with game and pork. The leaves and flowers can also be dried and added to potpourri for a fresh scent.

Sadly, the myrtle plant isn’t hardy. Over the winter months, it needs plenty of protection and will be happy in a conservatory or greenhouse.

2. Mint

Mint is a festive favourite, its addition in sauce to accompany meat, mojitos and warm water as a refreshing drink is very welcome.

The plants will thrive indoors and will provide fresh leaves throughout the whole of winter.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is perfect on roast potatoes but also makes a great plate decoration during the winter too. Plants and small trees are easy to pick up throughout the year and will happily live outside. However, it is best to keep the plant above freezing. A garage or hallway is a good choice.

4. Sage

The strong aroma and lovely taste of the sage plant make it a handy herb to have around. They love sitting on bright windowsills and will produce leaves all year round. Its strong, intense flavour is perfect in Christmas day stuffing.

After the sage leaves have been picked, they can be kept in the fridge, frozen, dried, or preserved in oil.

5. Thyme

The more neglect the thyme plant experiences, the tastier it apparently is, so bad gardeners should opt for this herb. The plant will happily grow in poor soil whilst rarely getting watered. However, they will need mulching during frosty periods.

6. Parsley

Hardy herbs like parsley are likely to keep growing outside, even during snowfall. When cold their growth will significantly slow down and parsley tastes best when freshly picked. For this reason, consider bringing them indoors to ensure a big crop to pick from.

Leaves can be harvested the leaves begin curling and for optimal flavour, pick from the plant early in the morning.

7. Oregano

Oregano is another plant that hates the frost and should be kept inside during chilly spells as they will die out if not. Come spring they are happy outdoors in full sun and in well-drained soil as the drought-tolerant herbs need watering only during extremely dry periods.