Herbs are the mainstay of good cooking and for many people they are also valuable ingredients in beauty products and home made remedies. Whether you’re interested in growing your own parsley for fish dishes or lavender for skin care, you will find that herb gardening is a wonderfully calming and fulfilling hobby.
Where to begin is a question which bothers most people who have little or no experience of growing herbs. The answer lies in where you are planning to grow your herbs! If you have a large garden then you can grow a beautiful herb garden in any sunny spot…herbs like full sun in general. If you have a smaller garden or even a balcony then you can still have a wonderful herb garden…in pots!
Looking at what to grow is part of the pleasure of setting up your herb garden; you may be growing for specific needs or you may just love the idea of a beautifully scented garden which will be wonderful for wildlife as well as for your senses. Some herbs grow well together and some don’t, some will take over an area within a month whilst others will remain relatively tight in the spot they are planted. Be aware of how large your chosen herbs are destined to grow and also how far they spread and you will be able to keep your herb garden under control!
Some ideas for beginners regarding the space necessary for certain herbs are as follows!
- Rosemary, Sage, Oregano and Marjoram will all need around 3 feet clear growing space each. That’s quite a lot of space and if you are not blessed with a big garden then you may be best keeping these in large pots. They will do passably well in deep planters.
- Basil, Thyme and Tarragon will all need slightly less space than those herbs mentioned above. 2 feet for each plant should be plenty to maximise growth.
- Dill and Parsley only require around 1 foot each and they will thrive as long as they have plenty of water.
Preparing the bed
Once you have chosen your spot then you need to dig it over well and ensure that the soil is not compacted but is nice and loose. Dig in some good quality compost and then plant your herbs. Water the plants as soon as they are in the ground; herbs do not like to become too dry and so may require watering on a daily basis.
Harvesting your herbs
When it comes to harvesting your herbs you only need to ensure that the plants have reached a height of around 6-8 inches before you begin cutting them. Cut herbs close to the intersection of two branches and this will help them to continue to grow and thrive.
If your ambitions lie in less common herbs then you may need to split your herb garden into several sections. Tea herbs such as Chamomile and Lemon Balm will thrive best in partial shade whilst Oregano, Thyme and Dill like full sun.
An herb garden is a wonderful way to fill your garden or deck area with scent and colour; remember that most of the varieties mentioned here will be happy in herb planters and the great thing about pots is that you can move them to follow the sun. This means that Mediterranean varieties may be kept happy all day!