Thursday, March 31, 2011

Herb Garden Basics~

The Basic Herb Garden~

Annuals (bloom one season and die) -- anise, basil, chervil, coriander, dill, summer savory.

Biennials (live two seasons, blooming second season only) -- caraway, parsley

Perennials (overwinter; bloom each season once established) -- chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme, winter savory and oregano.

Unless one is growing on a commercial basis, a kitchen garden can supply a home kitchen easily, with plenty to share. An area 20 by 4 feet with individual 12- by 18-inch plots within the area should be adequate for separate herbs. The more colorful and frequently used herbs, such as parsley and purple basil make perfect border plants for the kitchen garden. It is a good idea to keep annual and perennial herbs separate. A diagram of the area and labels for the plants also will help.

Drainage is the most important element in your herb garden. Herbs simply will not grow in soggy soil.

Preparing of the soil prior to planting is a must. Raised bed methods will expand the chances of perfect drainage, building the soil from compost and a good grade of garden soil, plus an addition of peat will clinch the chances of a near trouble free herb garden. When your soil is healthy it means less insect problems and fewer to no weed problems.

Nearly all herbs can be grown from seed, started in small flats in a greenhouse or a warm shelter at least 6 to 8 weeks before planting time in the garden.

A few herbs should be planted directly in the garden as they do not transplant well. Basil and Dill come to mind. Although with some care seed growing of both can be perfected.

Whatever your choices to grow, do your research prior to planting as to each ones special needs.

Once you have good size transplants and very warm weather ( both a must ) Transfer your seedlings from the flats to the garden and do not over-water. Herbs need far less water than other garden plants.

Once a week watering is usually plenty until well into the hottest days of summer.

Once herbs are growing and ready to harvest, pinch the leaves from the bottom up on a regular basis to keep the production up and to keep the plant from bolting. ( flowering ) once this happens the flavor changes and often times brings a bitter taste and renders the plant useless for the cook.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms


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