Herbs are some of the easiest, most grateful plants to grow both outdoors and indoors. Whether you have a garden, balcony or only a windowsill, you can have a herb garden bursting with flavour and fragrance. The rewards of growing herbs are far greater than with other plants, being used for a myriad of purposes, other than decorative, which stretch from flavouring your food to curing your flu to ridding your home of insects.
The key to a successful herb garden is its location. Most herbs grow best in full sun, but partial shade will often do. In order for herbs to reach their full capacity for flavour and frangrance, they need as much sun as possible. They will need a minimum of 4 – 7 hours of direct sun per day. If this is not possible, you’ll find that they will be straggly and prone to disease. It also important to remember that your culinary herbs should be planted away from possible contamination by pets.
It’s important that the soil you plant your herbs into has good drainage. They do not like to have ‘wet feet’. Most herbs will survive in poor sandy soil, but few will tolerate wet clay soil.
Prepare the ground for your herbs well in advance. Remove any weeds and dig through some organic matter, such as compost. Level the bed well by raking. When you are ready to transplant your herbs from their “nursery” pots into the ground, water the pots well. It’s difficult to wet a dry rootball thoroughly once it has been placed in the ground. If you herb has become a little root bound in its small “nursery” pot, gently loosen the root ball before planting. This will encourage new root growth. When planting shrubby herbs, such as thyme, pinch their tips to encourage bushy growth. Add bonemeal at the bottom of each planting hole. After planting, firm the soil gently around the plant and water thoroughly to settle the soil and give the herb a good start.
Newly planted herbs will require watering regularly. However, once they are established, they are naturally drought resistant. Remember – watering and drainage goes hand in hand. It’s preferable to give your herbs too little, rather than too much water.
If you intend using your herbs on a regular basis, fertilizing is very important. During the growing season (August to April) fertilize at least once a month. During the winter months one or two doses will be sufficient. Use any balanced fertilizer like 2:3:2. Always halve the dosage given on the packaging. The reason for this is that the essential oils of herbs that ‘suffer’ a bit are more concentrated, increasing their flavour, aroma and medicinal value.
Pruning is essential to encourage healthy, bushy growth. Remove dead leaves and flowers on a regular basis. Should you frequently use your herbs, pruning may not be necessary as you would be pruning automatically.
|HERBS THAT LIKE
|A TASTE OF ITALY||A TASTE OF FRANCE||GOING GREEN||HEAVEN SCENT|
|Chives||Lemon Balm||Sweet Basil||Chives||Rocket||Lemon Thyme|
|Dill||Mint||Oregano||Tarragon||Garlic Chives||Lemon Balm|
|Oregano||Marjoram||Chervil||Parsley||Rose scented geranium|