How to grow
Bay tolerates both sun and shade, and will grow in any soil providing it isn’t too wet. Position in a sheltered spot as the leaves can be scorched by cold winds.
Bay is an ideal container plant – it’s only moderately hardy, so growing it in a pot makes for easier winter protection. Buy new plants in late spring and plant into containers in May.
How to care for bay
Clip plants into shape if necessary in June to July. In autumn, protect the rootball of container-grown trees by moving the pot into the greenhouse or conservatory, or by wrapping the pot in bubble wrap and hessian.
How to harvest
Fresh leaves have a stronger flavour than dried ones and, although leaves are available all year round, it’s a good idea to pick and dry some leaves in August for use in winter.
Dry the leaves between the pages of an old paperback weighted down under a stack of books. This will stop the leaves from curling as they dry and will therefore make them easier to store.
The normal species of bay (Laurus nobilis) is the only one used for culinary purposes.