Gardening With Herbs

Herbs are a great way to landscape small spaces around the home or, if you don’t  have any outdoor space they can be planted in containers

Plan ahead, as you would any garden.  Keep it simple at first, choose just few varieties.  Decide if you want you incorporate perennials and annuals in the garden.  If you have a rocky area that needs planting, herbs are an ideal candidate since they they prefer slightly drier conditions and warm environments.  Just be sure to chose a sunny spot for the garden.  Raised beds work well for herbs and are recommended in areas where the soil is poorly drained.  Raised beds are better drained than gardens at ground level.  A variety of materials can be used to build the bed.  Stones works well as do landscape timbers.  Build the beds about 3′ across, this will make it working in the garden easier since you can reach across to harvest the herbs and remove any weeds.  Though herbs will grow in less than ideal rocky soils they’ll do best in a fertile, well drained, sandy loam. 

pH for Herbs

Test your soil.  Herbs prefer soils with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5.  If your soil is acidic, any pH level below 6.0, add lime or wood ash to your garden.  This will raise the pH level.  Adding the lime in the fall will give the lime time to react with the soil resulting in optimal soil conditions the following spring.  Fertilize your herbs in the spring.  Be sure not to overfeed the herbs, this could cause burning.  Compost is actually a great fertilizer for herb gardens so if you have a compost pile just spread and cultivate the compost into the garden in the spring.  Add a layer of mulch as well to help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds.  It will also cut down on time you’ll spend weed the garden. 

BasilGrowing herbs in containers requires much the same prep work as herb gardens in the landscape.  Certain herbs, however, are more suited to containers.  Smaller herbs will generally do better in containers.  Thyme, parsley, sage, basil and chives will all work well.  Pinch of the terminal bud of the plant to allow the herbs bush out rather than grow tall and leggy.  Herbs don’t like their root to be too wet so make sure the soil is well drained.  Place a few stones at the bottom of the pot, this will help with drainage.  Also, let the herbs dry out between watering.  Place the container in a spot which receives at six hour of sun each day.

Related Articles: Vegetable Gardening, Perennials, Annuals