Herb Gardening 101 - The Basics of Herb Gardening
Did you know? With the $3 cost for a bunch of fresh herbs, you can buy a packet of organic seeds for the same amount? Yes, you can grow your own and save money. Some herbs and spices are staggeringly expensive when you buy them at the supermarket. By growing it at home, you can save a huge amount of money! It is easy to grow them anyway.
Is this your first time growing herbs? You have nothing to worry about. Our beginner’s guide will take you step by step through the gardening process.
Herbs are defined as any seed-bearing plant that does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering. They have long been admired for both their medicinal and culinary value. Herbs may cure colds, help you sleep, soothe souls and add flavor and zest to dinner. Fortunately,growing herbs is relatively easy. You can even grow it in your apartment. They thrive in just about any type of soil and do not require much fertilizer. Another good thing about herbs - they are planted as companions for vegetables to help keep off pests and encourage more productivity from the harvest.
Now, here are the things you need to know to start your herb gardening.
Things You Will Need
To start your journey, you would need materials for your herb garden
- Large Pots (clay or plastic) 8" to 18" in diameter
- Plant fertilizer (Organic herb or vegetable fertilizer is recommended) Herbs don’t usually require fertilizer, unless you have remarkably poor soil. One of the benefits of many hardy herbs (such as lavender and rosemary) is they thrive under less than ideal conditions. Use an application of manure in the spring and a dose of compost tea in mid-summer to provide all the extra nutrients they need.
- Good Potting Soil (enough to fill your pots)
- Watering can
Why use containers? The most important requirement for growing herbs is the proper location.You can plant the herbs directly in the ground, but using containers is the best option to move them around your yard or balcony. You can simply drag the container over to the sunny spot if one of your herbs wants more sun. Herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight. Look for pots with at least 8 to 10 inches of space around each plant.
WHERE can you grow your own herbs? Anywhere! Whether you live in a subdivision with a large backyard or in a high-rise apartment with a balcony, herbs grow anywhere. As long as they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight, your herbs are gonna stay in good shape.
If you have a little more space inside your home, consider using pots to grow your plants. Woody stems such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, and parsley are appropriate for indoor gardening. These plants usually need dry soil and lots of sunshine.
If your space is a bit shady, don’t fret. Some herbs, such as cilantro, mint, chives and tarragon, can thrive in partial shade. They are fine with only 3-4 hours of sunlight.
Place your herbs where you can easily see them. This way, you can notice if they need watering or if pests are starting to invade.
If you have plenty of space, here are some great ideas:
- Raised beds or garden boxes- this type of garden provides more growth space and better drainage. Herbs that are best put in raised beds are chives, mint, and oregano
- Yard Gardening- It is important to look out for competing trees and shrubs. Place your herbs where they would not compete with other plants.
- Herb wheels, which use borders to separate different sections, with a focal point at the center
- Theme gardens (it's a garden where every plant fits into one particular theme for example tea garden and medicinal herb garden)
SELECTING YOUR PLANTS
When picking what to put in your garden, choose herbs you know you’ll use.
Are you regularly cooking? Basil, thyme, and oregano are all great herbs to put in your garden.
Are you looking for Robust herbs that have rich flavor? Rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic are all best herbs to put in your garden.
Start small. Ambition can do you in, so keep your first garden a manageable size, Nuss suggests. As you get used to gardening, you can always add more plants.
We like using seedlings (small plants) when starting out, but if you’re keen to start from seed, you can get started indoors before the weather is ripe, then transplant them afterwards.
Other herbs that are recommended to beginner gardeners are:
GARDEN FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
Pick herbs that work together. Keep in mind that some plants don’t make good friends with others. Mint, fennel and horseradish can be a greedy plant and will quickly crowd out other herbs. They have a tendency to push other herbs around, sending out stems or roots through the soil that will eventually grow into new plants – these herbs are best planted in their own containers.
Most herbs like full sun, but a few will survive in shaded areas. Some herbs need dry conditions like Bay Laurel,Baptisia and Cat Thyme.Others need plenty of moisture.
HOW TO PLANT THE HERBS
- Water seedlings about 1-2 hours before planting to make it easier to transplant them.
- Place a layer of potting mix at the bottom of your container.
- Remove seedlings from their containers (some containers are biodegradable and can be planted directly into the soil).
- Place the seedling on top of the soil layer and hold it in place while you fill the container with potting mix until it reaches the top of the root ball.
- Pat soil gently with your hands to eliminate air pockets.
- Water it well and let drain, then add more potting mix and water again if needed so that potting mix is level with the top of the root ball.
- The soil surface should sit about 3/4 inch below the rim of the container.
GET THE WATERING RIGHT
Get the right amount of water for your herbs. Do not over-water. More water is not better and can lead to diseases which will result in reduced growth.Most herbs like to be watered as soon as the soil located a couple of inches below the surface is dry to the touch. Since temperatures and humidity cause drying times to vary every week, you must check the soil often. Most herbs require about 1-inch of water a week. Others such as lavender, sage, or thyme can get by with less.
HARVEST LIKE A PRO
"The more you pick, the more you get," Gilbertie says. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! For harvesting, you simply cut off about 1/3 of the branches when the plant reaches at least 6-8" tall. By cutting right above a node, the point where the leaves attach to the stem, your plants will regrow very quickly. Some plants, such as parsley, grow new leaves from their center. In this case the oldest branches need to be completely removed, leaving the new tiny branches growing from the center. If your annual plants―basil and cilantro―flower and produce seeds, they'll quit growing leaves. Harvest them in the morning, when the herbs' oils are at their strongest. And clip the skins instead of plucking individual leaves off the plant. Remember, never cut more than one-third of the branches off at a time, as any more than that could actually inhibit growth.
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What herb are you looking to plant? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.