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
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.
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.
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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