Growing Herbs

When planning your herb garden, first decide where you would like to locate the plants. Herbs can occupy any part of a garden. Traditionally they are put near the back or front door so the plants are easily accessible to the kitchen. They can be grown among your vegetable or flower gardens, or grown in pots on a balcony or deck. If you are starting from scratch, take the time to consider where you want to place your herbs, especially if you are planning to stay in this home for many years. Most common culinary herbs are perennials, so they will continue to grow for a long time. Choosing the proper site is important in keeping the plants healthy and free of any problems.

Your garden site needs to suit the herbs you are planning to grow. If your site it shady, choose the herbs that can tolerate a bit less sun, or if it is a bit wet, make sure the plants will take a little extra moisture at certain times of the year. If possible choose a level site that has good drainage and is easy to access. A hilly area will drain quicker than a flat one, making it more difficult to keep the plants well watered. If this is all the area you have, consider terracing your garden to make it more accessible and easier to work in.

Planting herbs can be useful in many ways, not just for culinary use. So deciding what you want to grow can depend on your garden site as well as what use you have for that specific herb. Many aromatics such a mint, parsley, sage, rosemary, and garlic repel certain insects and pests, so they are valuable growing in among your vegetables. Balm, dill, and thyme will attract beneficial insects such as bees, which are needed to help propagate your veggies and fruits. There are many medicinal uses for herbs as well.

The bay leaf we use in soups and stews is the dried leaf from the bay laurel tree. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, and B as well as having folic acid, calcium, and manganese.

Many herbs can be grown in pots indoors during the winter months. Place them in proper-sized containers and position them in a sunny window so you can enjoy using them all winter long. Grow perennials such as marjoram, chives, mint, and winter savory from divisions or cuttings taken in the fall. Basil, dill, and parsley are annuals and will need to be started from seed outdoors (in pots) in late summer and then transplanted into larger pots in the fall. When growing herbs indoors make sure you use a light, well-draining potting soil, and water as needed. Try not to let the plants dry out or be overwatered.

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