Horticulture Week Podcast: 'Life's not easy being a nurseryman' - Herb 'Queen' Jekka McVicar on how she makes it work

Queen of herbs Jekka McVicar, Britain's best known herb grower, is holding a herb festival at her Bristol nursery on July 2-4.

Jekka says she was inspired to launch Herbfest by her experience performing (with progressive rock band Marsupilami) at the first Glastonbury festival half a century ago. Nervious and exhilarated to be holding her own event after a year of lockdown, Herbfest will host chefs, designers and sustainable gardeners.

McVicar speaks passionately on her campaign to reopen retail nurseries to the public after the Government shut down them down during lockdown - and how she vows to not let it ever happen again.

Though business was "tight" during lockdown #1 in 2020, the 2021 season has seen "unprecedented" when she ventured into her own take on mail order. She also reveals how difficult it was, in 2020, when only three show gardens out of 10 paid for Jekka-grown herb plants after their events were cancelled.

Peat free for 30 years, McVicar said supply was now short from her usual source and she is having to trial three new mixes for 2022. A European seed shortage too with the likes of Jelitto having limited availability on some lines means she has begun saving seed.

For the future, she is breeding new oregano and plans a book on propagation and chemical-free pest and disease management.

This Horticulture Week podcast is produced by Christina Taylor and presented by Matthew Appleby.

Make sure you never miss one! Subscribe to or Follow Horticulture Week podcasts via Apple iTunesSpotify or Google Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

If you are interested in producing a podcast with Horticulture Week, contact matthew.appleby@haymarket.com. 

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