Because some medicinal herbs are annuals, some perennials and because success rates vary from season to season, the actual numbers and varieties of our plantings required vary dramatically from year to year.

It’s always a risk, but 2008 was a particularly important planting year for us with almost 300,000 plants going in at the end of April, plus direct drilling of some experimental species. We were blessed with a perfect Spring and early summer, which permitted the all-important establishment phase of the new plants, thus allowing them to withstand less favourable conditions later on.

Overall, we produced several million plants in 2008 and were fortunate that all the herbs had been harvested before the August rains, and the worst effect of the wet ground in August and September was to leave us with rather a weed problem. Very fortunately, October allowed us to get this under control, thanks to the newly acquired Swiss ‘brush-weeder’ and probably at rather less cost than if we had been able to spend all of the summer weeding as usual. The ground was thus soft but workable for the removal of roots in early November.

So, not only did the herbs do well, but growing costs went down significantly for us and we were able to pass these on to customers by way of big discounts in the autumn.