Cultivating a fresh herb garden is a wonderful adventure. The rewards of herb gardening can be gained from any of the herb use classifications chosen by the herb gardener to grow. The plants are easy to grow, hearty and for the most part insect free. The following tips can get the new herb gardener off to a good start.
Sizing The Herb Garden
It is helpful to first diagram your garden. Determine how much space you will need and this will be determined by the type and amount of plants you want in the garden. A 4 by 20 foot area should be an ideal size for a kitchen garden. Each herb should be allocated a 12 by 18 inch area. The type plant should be considered in plant location. For instance colorful or frequently used herbs such as basil or parsley should be used as border plants. Annuals and bi-annuals should be separated from perennials.
Soil and Site Conditions
The most important component in the herb growing success formula is soil drainage. Herb plants hate wet feet and will not grow in overly damp ground. With that in mind let soil drainage be your first consideration when selecting the location of your herb garden. If you do not have a well-drained spot for your garden, not to worry. A well-drained garden area can be created by removing the garden area soil down to 16 inches and then putting down a three inch layer of gravel. Mix a little sand with the soil you removed earlier and then replace it on top of the gravel. Now you have a well-drained garden plot.
The soil for herb growing should not be overly rich. Usually highly fertile soils will cause herb plants to produce more stems and leaves than flavor and aromas. Some herb plants such as summer savory, fennel and chervil need small amounts of fertilizer.
Sowing Herb Seed
With few exceptions herbs can be successfully grown from seed by the gardener. Herbs are resistant to almost all insects and diseases. One of the few exceptions is that anise, caraway, fennel and dill sometimes bothered by aphids.
It is recommended to sow seeds in boxes in the late winter and then transplant the seed sprouts outside in the garden in the spring. Herb seeds can be very small so care has to taken to not sow them too deep. Usually one eight of an inch of soil is sufficient for finer seed like savory, thyme or marjoram. During germination finer seed should be covered with burlap to keep the soil moist during the process. Fennel, dill and coriander seed should be planted straight into the garden because they are not amenable to transplanting.
You can begin harvesting fresh herb leaves as soon as there are enough on the plant to maintain growth after you take what you need. Good oil content insures excellent flavor and aroma. The best time to pick leaves or seed heads to get the best oil content is just after the dew has gone away and before the sun gets too hot.
Now you are ready to start your herb garden adventure. Get All Your Gardening Supplies Here