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How to grow your own urban herb garden in the shade

Herbs that grow in shade friendly environments, because it’s that thyme of year.

As the months get cooler even some of the most passionate gardeners can be found scratching their heads about what to plant. In winter, the sun might be going home early more often but that shouldn't have to mean your green thumb is put on hold.

When you think about how much money, energy and resources you are saving by saying no to over-packaged, over-ripe food that's travelled hundreds of miles to get to your table you realise how much change you can make through simply growing your own.

We’ve put together a list of herbs that love to grow all year round and in the shade. Whether you are coming into the cooler winter months or trying to build your own urban garden from your apartment balcony we’ve got you covered.
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Parsley

Parsley could easily be re-named 'the beginner gardeners herb' due to its incredible versatility and resilience. Whilst this little guy doesn't mind some sun every now and then he prefers light shade and will even remain green in icy cold temperature

We love parsley because this simple herb is a waste-free chef's dream and has a variety of uses. The leaves can be added to dishes for flavour, chewed on to cure smelly breath and used as a garnish to brighten up dishes, while the stalks and roots can be added to veggie soups to bulk up flavour or juiced in morning green juices to settle an upset stomach - medicinal and delicious!

When planning your herb garden remember that parsley is a good friend of chives and is happy to share a bed with them, but keep parsley away from potatoes- they don't get along.

Read more: How to grow your own herbal tea at home

Mint

Another great herb for beginners, mint will grow like wild fire so we suggest keeping its roots separate by either submerging a pot or mesh bag at least five inches deep in the soil. Mint is happy to grown inside or out, all year round and prefers shade with just a little touch of sunshine here and there.

Use mint leaves in fresh fruit salads, mojitos and teas. Don't forget to save the stalks for juices, as medically mint is great for keeping allergies and hay fever at bay whilst naturally clearing up your skin.

A fun tip for mint: freeze mint leaves into ice cubes and add to water, refreshing and purifying.


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Chives

Chives are not only a delicious addition to most dishes with their mild onion flavour but they are also great for your veggie patch as they naturally deter garden pests (which means you can avoid excessive use of herbicides). Possibly one of the easiest plants to grown, some hail chives as a gateway herb for new gardeners, they love shade and bloom every year like clock work.

Chives are also great for your health as they contain folate, magnesium, calcium and potassium which are all vitamins known to benefit a variety of health issues, particularly for women.

Chives are another great herb for cutting down on food waste with the entire of the plant being edible from the bulbs which are similar to a mild onion and delicious pickled to the soft purple flowers with a faint garlic taste to liven up salads.

Read more: How To Preserve Herbs


Coriander

Coriander is possibly the most controversial of all the herbs. For those of us who love it, it adds delicious Asian inspired flavours to soups, salads and sandwiches (think Vietnamese Banh mi) and for a reported 14% of the population it tastes like soap.

Hopefully you're not in the 14% because this herb is consistently easy to grow, incredibly versatile and a great source of dietary fibre and iron.

Coriander likes to grow in the shade all year round. Coriander leaves are delicious to add to pretty much anything, the stalks are great in soups and juices to bulk up nutrients and the seeds are lesser known but equally delicious to add to dishes for spice and crunch.


Thyme

We have a lot of thyme for this herb that can be hailed the 'Armageddon herb' due to its ability to grow anywhere, anytime, all the thyme. Whilst thyme prefers the shade it will generally succeed in most conditions and is the perfect herb to start growing in winter due to its compatibility with roasted everything.

Thyme also has medicinal properties; it has been used to treat conditions from your everyday common cold and sore throat to whopping cough.

By starting off with these easy to grow herbs you are taking that first step of cutting down food miles and packaging that are all too prevalent in our supermarkets.

Plus, once the realisation that you've forgotten the coriander for dinner tonight and just have to go outside to your balcony to cut some off rather than venture out to the shops, you'll be growing everything you can in no time.

Read this next: Kitchen Pharmacy: Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow At Home

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