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Herbs add flavor to your food and perfume the air of your home. Instead of buying herbs for about four dollars per container, plant an herb garden.
Determine where you want your herb garden to be. You can have a separate space reserved for herbs, or you can blend them with flowers and vegetables.
When you’re determining where you’re going to plant your garden, find a space about 6 feet by 4 feet. This size is big enough to produce enough herbs for a small family.
However, if you’re planting mint, consider using an herb garden separate from your flowerbed. Mint is aggressive and will overtake other plants if given the chance.
To determine which herbs to grow, make a list of the herbs you most commonly use in the kitchen. Popular and easy-to-grow herbs include: mint, basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, fennel and sage.
There are two ways to start an herb garden: seeds or seedlings. If you're growing fennel, coriander, dill or anise, plant them as seeds directly into the ground. The rest of your herbs can be started inside before relocating them to your garden. To learn more about starting seeds, read: Plant the Seed: A Potless Approach To Spring Gardening.
Herbs do best in sandy, well-drained soil. If the soil in your area is clay, plant your herbs in a raised bed with potting soil. If you’re unsure what the soil texture is in your area, do this quick soil test: Take a handful of moist soil and give it a squeeze. If it holds its shape, you have clay soil. If it falls apart, then your soil is sandy.
Herbs prefer a sandy soil consistency, so use mulch but avoid fertilizers. To learn more about the benefits of mulch, read: Much Ado About Mulch.
Following are some tips on care for each type of herb:
Mint: Mint rewards laziness. It needs minimal water and only adequate sunlight.
Basil: Mulch is highly recommended with basil. Basil likes a lot of water, so keep it moist. Basil also likes warm weather, so keep it in sunlight and out of the refrigerator.
Chives: Chives needs minimal watering. Remove the chive flowers after they bloom to keep them from self-sowing.
Cilantro: Don’t over-fertilize your cilantro because too much nitrogen will delay the ripening of the seed.
Oregano: About six weeks after planting your oregano, trim back the oregano before it flowers. This will make the oregano denser and bushier.
Parsley: Parsley just needs steady water.
Fennel: Fennel grows best in cool weather, so you may want to avoid this herb if you live in a hot climate. Fennel prefers a lot of water, so water this plant frequently.
Sage: Water your sage regularly, and trim off the woody, heavier stems from the plant.
Some herbs such as rosemary, lavender and thyme simply do better in pots. These herbs need light soil, so they don’t thrive in a traditional herb garden. Consider planting them in a pot along side your traditional garden.
If you’re growing low-growing herbs including anise, caraway, dill and fennel, watch out for pests. Taller herbs are rarely affected by insects or diseases, but these low-growing herbs can be attacked by aphids and rust.
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