Herb Garden Basics

green bushes
Knot Garden

Fresh herbs are a great addition to any recipe, in addition they also bring color, fragrance, and texture to a garden.  There are many types of herb gardens such as kitchen, medicinal, ornamental, knot, colonial, and fragrant. Herbs can be worked into a vegetable garden, landscape beds, or planted in containers both inside and outside.  For your herb garden to perform its best keep in mind the following conditions.

Sun light -although some herbs will grow in shade the majority require six hours or more of sunlight a day.

Location – the closer they are to the house and the kitchen the more likely they are to be used.

Soil – Moist well drained soils are best for growing herbs.  For our area sandy soils are rare but clay is predominant.  Compost is an excellent way to feed the soil and break up the clay, that being said planting herbs in a low-lying spot even with compost is not a good idea.  If your soil is poor, consider planting in raised beds or planters.  Avoid using composted manure due to its high nitrogen content.  This wall force a lot of growth from the herbs and likely reduce the flavors they produce.

Care – Once the herbs have been planted, they need approximately 2” of water per week.  This amount may need to be adjusted based on the soil.  Some additional fertilization in the form of an organic fertilizer or compost may be required during the growing season depending on how densely you plant the herbs.  Frequent harvesting will keep the herbs producing more foliage.  If you are growing the herbs solely for harvesting, you can remove flowers as they will divert energy from leaf production and can change the flavor.

Plant selection – Begin with what you like.  If you really like pesto plant plenty of Basil.  If you are a salsa fan plant cilantro.  If you enjoy mint you may want to plant it in a container in the ground to contain it, otherwise you will end up with a mint garden and not a herb garden.