Herbal Gardening- Planning Your Herb Garden

Herbs can be pretty easy to grow and often require minimal planning, but, as pointed out in the article, "minimal" does not mean none at all.

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Herbs require very little care compared to many plants. With my gardening record, that's good news!

You can find yourself having a lot of chores when all you wanted was a pleasant hobby. After all, how many times have you had to spray your roses or trim your orchids? Most herbs, by comparison, can do pretty well in poor soil, require little fertilizer, and do well with only modest watering.

In fact, if they get lots of sun and a bit of water, they usually do well all on their own...who needs us?

But you'll still want to do some planning before just tossing down a few seeds and walking away.

For one thing, since herbs thrive well in relatively poor conditions, they can overgrow their site. Lavender will spread, Yarrow can take over large areas. Even Chives can get bushy and packed. Make sure you start with adequate space in your pot or garden for the number of plants you have in mind.

It's still easy, as most will get along fine if they have about a foot of space between major sections. Chives, for example, will still look great and grow well in a bunch. Remember, the roots still need a certain amount of nutrient and water. Other plants nearby will compete for those.

Also, in order for adequate sunlight to reach the plants, they'll need a certain amount of area, alongside them and within them. Obviously, planting too many within a confined space will make that difficult. Thinning may be required later as more plants than you expected develop.

Like other things associated with growing herbs, soil preparation is minimal for herbs, but minimal doesn't mean non-existent. A good compost or mix of sandy loam and clay will support a wide range of herbs. You'll want to make sure they have adequate drainage. Many herbs are originally natives of the Mediterranean, so, fortuneately for gardeners like me, they'll do well in rocky, relatively dry soil. They evolved in conditions of good drainage. But all herbs need some water. Soil should be moist, but not wet.

Lavender and Sage, just to pick two popular herbs, can get by in most areas with no manual watering at all. In their native world occasional rainfall is enough. Peppermint will want a little more, which can easily be supplied by an automatic drip system or even by getting up out of the chaise lounge, putting down the cool drink, and watering it yourself..

You'll want to minimize weeds, of course, possibly by laying down some landscape fabric. You'll want to avoid having to dig weeds up later or deal with the problem by using herbicides. That can kill the herbs along with the weeds (many are biologically similar). It also means you're spraying chemicals onto plants that you may later plan to eat.

Many avoid some of these problems by opting to grow herbs in containers.

Herbs resist insects well, but you may want to help by being prepared to sacrifice some for the sake of preserving others.

Dill will make a good "trap crop".  This can be defined as one which attracts pests away from other plants such as tomatoes. If your goal actually is to grow Dill, a small amount of insecticide will take care of the problem, but use the minimum possible, and there are organic options as well.

If you are interested in going the organic route, you might look into one or both of these two resources (links open new windows, by the way):

Organic Vegetable Gardening Magic - Everything You Need to Know About Organic Gardening Without Having to Buy Expensive Tools or Fancy Equipment

Plan when you want to plant by judging which herbs will do well by beginning at various times of year. Some can be sown anytime, others should be planted at intervals of four weeks, still others should begin as early as possible after the snows melt.

You can get planting zone info at almost any site selling seeds, such as Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Plan ahead and you'll find your herb garden easy to care for and thriving with very little effort.

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Planning an Herbal Garden
Page Updated 9:50 AM Sunday 5/8/2016