Growing herbs in clay soil? Diary of a Rocket Gardener

A friend asked the other day how I manage to grow herbs in such clay heavy soil. I was a little taken aback as I’d never given it any thought. I just planted lots of herbs and left them to it. But it made me consider this, as I wonder if others are put off growing herbs in clay soil thinking that the soil is unsuitable.

Mine grow in a patch on a south-facing slope, and they are mulched with woodchip. The only plants that have ever struggled are Rosemary and Sage, both of which suffer in waterlogged soil. Even so, they have done well for a good couple of years before succumbing.

So here’s my theory for success with herbs in clay soil: they need good drainage and they need a good amount of sunshine too.

For my plot, being on a slope, drainage is not a huge problem, however the woodchip helps. If you were growing on a flatter plot, one where rainwater can gather and sit around, I would definitely recommend mulching. You could also dig trenches to help water run off, and it is a good idea to dig in plenty of compost to lighten up the soil when planting. But I wouldn’t let it deter you from growing herbs – you may find one or two do not survive, but for the most part, I’d imagine they’d do fine!