The Joy of The Home Herb Garden

Home herb gardens can be planted almost anywhere. Not only are most herbs attractive and fragrant, but they also are easily grown, maintained, stored, and a wonderful addition to your cuisine! Plant them in an existing backyard vegetable garden, a raised garden bed, in the front yard (parsley and chives make beautiful border plantings), in containers on your deck, patio, balcony, and even on your kitchen windowsill.

All herbs thrive in rich soil with good drainage. They can tolerate some sand, but do not do well in wet clay soil. Clay hardens too much as it dries, and your herbs do better in loose soil. Thyme, rosemary, dill, basil, chives, tarragon and oregano will thrive in full sun.

But mint and cervil prefer shady areas, so learn about your herbs before planting them, and place them accordingly. Some of the herbs in your garden can be best planted from seed. Lemongrass, parsley, dill, marjoram, sage, chives and basil are in that category.

Tarragon, mint, and rosemary are best bought as starter plants or planted from cuttings. Be careful with invasive herbs, such as spearmint. They should be planted in their own pots, and then sunk into the garden to keep the roots from spreading all over.

A home herb garden doesn’t have to have a zillion different herbs in it. If you are a beginning gardener, and not yet a gourmet cook, just plant the herbs you are very familiar with, such as parsley, basil, chives, and garlic. As you get used to having your own fresh herbs at your fingertips, you can expand to include a plethora of herbs, for your expanding garden and cuisine!

So let’s get started. Remove the weeds from the area you chose, add some compost to the soil and rake it to make it loose and even. Know how much room each plant will require and set your pots accordingly. When you have it right, remove them from the pots and place them in the holes, press the soil firmly around each plant (or seeds) and water well, to allow the soil to set.

Once your home herb garden has been planted, be careful not to over-water it. Herbs can actually handle drought more easily than flood. Mulch your perennials once a year, and fertilize all herbs every month during the growing season. Don’t over-fertilize. It can make the plants too tall and sparse, and they will also be more susceptible to disease. It is healthier for both you and the environment to use organic materials.

If you are not constantly picking off sprigs of herbs for your daily cooking, be sure to prune the plants regularly. By removing the dead flowers and leaves, and cutting the plants back, you are ensuring new growth that is both healthy and full, instead of spindly.

Pests such as aphids, red spider, and white fly are rarely found on herbs, but if it should happen, use organic pesticides such as garlic /water sprays to rid your plants of the problem. You will be delighted that you decided to grow a home herb garden.

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