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Herb Gardening

When you visit your local supermarket you'll see fresh herbs for sale, such as rosemary, parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme, mint, rue, angelica, bay and basil.  You can grow these same herbs in your garden without much trouble.  They can be grown from plant cuttings or seeds.   Once an herb plant gets established, you can divide it and plant new herb plants.  Herb gardening is an easy way to add zest to your gardening world and your life.

Different Types of Herbs

General usage differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs.

  • A medicinal herb may be a shrub or other woody plant
  • Any edible fruits or vegetables may be considered a medicinal herb.
  • A culinary herb is a non-woody plant. They are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.
  • Spices are the seeds, berries, bark, root, fruit, or other parts of the plant, even leaves in some cases

Herbs can be annual, biennial or perennial plants.

  • Herbs like Basil, Coriander and Dill are annuals that bloom for one season only and then die.
  • Caraway and parsley are biennials that live for two seasons and bloom only the second year.
  • Perennials like chives, fennel, mint and tarragon ‘die’ over winter, although the roots survive and then the plant will blossom again each  season, once the plant has established itself.


Plan Your Plot

A good size area for planting herbs would be in a 20 foot by 4 foot garden space.  You can then divide this space up into smaller plots of a couple of square feet for each herb type. 

There are many different herbs that are available.  If you plant a colorful variety around the border, this can give your garden a nice look.  Also plant the herbs that you frequently use near the edges so you can easily reach them.  Parsley and Purple Basil are examples of colorful border herbs.


The Soil

For your herb garden to thrive you'll want to have soil that is not constantly wet but is well drained.  Herbs do not grow in wet soil.  To make sure your soil is well drained, dig up and remove about 15 to 18 inches, in depth, of soil.  In the bottom of the hole add a few inches of crushed stone or other similar material.  This layer will allow the water to drain away from the surface

A mixture of compost and sand can be added to the soil and this will lighten the soil’s texture and make it easier for the water to seep through the soil and drain away.  Adding hummus will enrich it with nutrients and restore the soil’s Ph level. Refill the hole with the soil mixture so it is above the original level.


Getting Started

You can plant your herbs in the ground in late winter. Although herb gardening requires that you first grow them indoors in shallow trays.  Keep the seeds close to the surface.  They should not be covered with a thick layer of soil.  The soil needs to be light and well drained.  This type of soil texture will ensure that your herb gardening gets off to good start.

Once you plant the herbs outside, be on the lookout for the things that can attack them.  Insects like aphids go after anise, caraway, dill and fennel herbs.  Red mite spiders attack low growing herbs.  Rust can also be a disease-like problem for mint plants.

Aside from these minor troubles, herb gardening is a pleasant and intriguing activity.  Whether you use herbs for cooking, medicinal use or even aromatic use, the art of herb gardening is making a comeback among gardeners.  Join their ranks and enjoy the pleasures of using your own herbs.

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