Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Can: Plant an Herb Garden

As do-it-yourself week comes to a close, I wanted to make sure we finished off with something particularly helpful.  What could possibly fit the bill more than a good ‘ol fashioned herb garden?  If you or someone in your home has any interest in cooking, an herb garden is something you should absolutely consider creating.  Herbs are easy to grow and their benefits are vast…it’s a great project to get started on this weekend!

The biggest thing to keep in mind when planting is location.  Most herbs do best in full sun, which means they need between six and eight hours a day.  While it’s nice to have a few herbs in planters inside, make sure you put them in a place that receives adequate sun.  If you decide to plant outside, do your best to put them in an area that’s convenient to get to…if you have to walk halfway across your ten acre property to use them, chances are you’ll be reaching for your store bought dried oregano instead.  Remember, the main point of your herb garden is for use not decoration, so while they are beautiful try to resist using them as a crucial piece of landscaping that will be noticeably missed when clipped.  

Choose your herbs based on your own eating preferences, but make sure you keep their size in mind.  Small herbs will grow less than a foot tall and up to a foot in diameter.  They include Parsley, Chives, Cilantro, and Thyme.  Medium sized herb plants grow between two to four feed wide and less than two feet tall and include Basils, Tarragon, and Peppermint.  Oregano and Spearmint can grow four to six feet wide but typically stay under one foot tall, while Rosemary, Lavendars, Sages, and Lemon Verbena can grow four to six feet wide and over a foot tall.  Of course, this doesn’t mean you should plant your herbs between four and six feet apart, but a good understanding of maximum growth patterns will help you layout your garden.  Whether you decide to plant from seeds or small plants, you can check the labels of your herbs for information on their exact spacing needs.

The health of your herbs is directly proportional to the health of their soil.  It’s so important that you choose soil with a proper drainage system as wet roots invite disease and will eventually rot.  If all you’re tackling is a a small herb garden, you’re in a good position to buy some organic potting soil.  Look for soils with vermiculite and peat moss which will help retain the soil’s moisture when dry yet prevent excess moisture from killing the roots when wet.  For more tips on potting plants, check out our previous post‘It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’.


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