Herb Garden Plants
There is an avid interest in herb gardening today. In a world of ever increasing working hours together with packaged and processed meals, and the ubiquitous TV dinner, it seems that we are desperately keen to cook meals “from scratch” with fresh ingredients.
We also want that connection with nature but are not about to relive the “punishment” and long working hours involved with the large back gardens of the past. So the ideal solution has arisen in the form of the very satisfying and practical herb garden.
The beauty of herbs is that they can be grown almost anywhere in a very small space, in containers or on a kitchen window sill. A patio herb garden is also popular and can be enjoyed even in the smallest of apartments. But if you are interested in a bit more “outdoor therapy” and really getting your hands dirty then the traditional herb garden is the answer.
How to Make an Herb Garden in Your Backyard
The first consideration of course, is which herbs you would like to grow. There are such a wide variety of plants available that making a choice may not be easy. Fortunately most herbs are among the most tolerant and forgiving of garden plants and are easy to grow. In the main most do best in a light, well-drained soil and prefer plenty of sunlight.
A little research is needed to find which herbs will suit your area and requirements. You will need to be aware that there are -
annuals which last for a single growing season and include:
• basil, coriander, dill, summer savory, chervil, anise and parsley as well as
perennials which continue from season to season and include:
• marjoram, chives, tarragon, mint, rosemary, sage, fennel, thyme, oregano and winter savory
Your herb garden can be any size you decide on depending on the quantity and variety that you want. It is wise to plant annuals and perennials separately. The best colored and most often used herbs can be planted as attractive borders and purple basil for instance, makes a striking boundary.
Perhaps the most important factor for the soil is that it needs to have good drainage. Herbs do not tolerate soil that is too wet. If your soil is too damp and not well drained then a very good alternative is to use raised garden beds which can provide excellent drainage. If your soil is sandy then you should have no trouble growing herbs.
The richness of the soil is not such an issue as the quality can easily be improved with a good organic fertilizer and compost. However, don’t be tempted to overdo these additives as you will tend to get speedy growth but a lack of flavor. Actually certain herbs which originate from the Mediterranean like sage and rosemary prefer a poorer soil with a little more lime content.
Use a layer of organic mulch such a straw or leaves to protect the soil and help in retaining moisture. It will also be beneficial and assist with weed control.
Buying Your Herb Plants
• Make sure to select healthy specimens which look strong and are at the correct development stage to suit the container they are in
• Carefully check leaves for any disease or insect problems
• Take a look at the roots which ought to be white and ideally fill the container but are not root bound
• Keep in mind that the biggest plant is not always the best one!
Caring for Your Herbs
Don’t kill your herbs with kindness by over watering and over fertilizing. This is the most common reason for the untimely demise of many innocent herbs. Using a slow release organic fertilizer is good way to help your herbs become established and will break down slowly in the soil. Watering to keep the moisture to a depth of around one foot is better than light overhead sprinkling on a daily basis.
To maintain strong healthy plants you need to pinch off the ends of the new growth every so often. This will stop them from becoming spindly and weak. Harvest often and just take as much as you need each time.
The best time for picking is in the morning before the sun can wilt the plants. You will capture the oils in the leaves which provide all the flavors at their best in the cooler part of the day.
Enjoying Your Herbs
Finally the most important advice is to make sure that you enjoy your herb garden plants to the fullest and relish in the effect they offer your senses – the color, the touch, the scent and most of all the delicious, fresh and zesty taste.