Getting Started with Herbs!

Herbs can be grown indoors or outdoors. Indoors herbs have the advantage of a year-long growing season as well as ease of use (no heading outside to weed!). The disadvantage of growing herbs indoors is that they are generally less productive and less flavorful. Of course, the opposite is true for plants grown outside – more work, but higher yields and, more flavor. Whether you choose the great outdoors or the window sill in your kitchen, the needs of your herbs are the same: plenty of sunshine and good, well-draining soil.

Indoor Gardens

Start planting your indoor Herb garden by choosing your herb growing spot. Window sills are great, particularly those that face south or west.  A good growing medium for herbs is a soilless mixture of peat, vermiculite and perlite. Water well, but be sure that your pots have drainage holes.  Keep the soil moderately moist. That means not sopping wet, but not so dry that your herbs wilt from lack of moisture.  If you’re using seeds, plant annuals in the late summer. They can be kept indoors in pots or other receptacles for their entire life. For perennial herbs, it’s best to keep them outside during the summer and then bring them in before the first frost. While your herbs are outdoors, keep them in containers in a sunny area that is well protected from intense heat and/or wind, soil in pots dries faster than soil in the ground, so they require more frequent watering during the summer months.

Outdoor Gardens

Before you decide where to put your herb garden, figure out how much sunlight the herb you want to grow need. Most herbs enjoy sun, however, a few are better grown in partial shade, it is best to check light requirements before planting. The other important factor to consider when deciding where to put your herb garden is ease of access, you don’t what your herb garden so far away from the kitchen that it becomes inconvenient to harvest them.   The size of your garden is determined by how many herbs you want to grow – usually a dozen or so will give you great variety – and how much space they need.  It is not a bad idea to map out your garden on paper, it will help you with your planning.

Choose a site that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.  Your herb garden will also need to drain well.  Drainage can be improved by adding organic matter like compost, peat moss, and composted manures to your soil.

Fertilizing is important but too much of a good thing will defeat the purpose.  Too much fertilizer will cause more growth, but will decrease the concentration of the oils and will make your herbs more prolific but less flavorful.

Prepare you’re herb beds by turning the soil over, digging down 10 to 12 inches.  If you have a roto- tiller great makes turning the soil much easier, but if not use a spade or garden fork.  This is a good time to add some organic matter we mentioned earilier.  Mix your soil well and level it off with a rake.  Once your herb bed is complete all that is left is planting.  Some of your herbs can be planted as seeds and others will do much better if purchased as young plants.

Enjoy your herb garden, many dishes that we prepare that call for dried herbs, will taste that much better if you use fresh!

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