Choosing An Outdoor Site For Growing Herbs

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This article provides how to tips to grow herbs outdoors in garden beds
by Brett · All Zones · Food Gardens · 0 Comments · June 14, 2010 · 10,454 views

Little wonder that herbs have earned a place in American gardens. Freshly harvested herbs have pungent and aromatic qualities that far exceed those of their commercially obtained counterparts - whether fresh or dried. Even after the outdoor growing season is over, you can still enjoy dried herbs in fragrant potpourris and sachets. You can also grow herbs indoors in pots on sunny windowsills, and use them for culinary purposes, either fresh, dried, or frozen. You will enjoy growing herbs because their culture is easy. They require little care and space, have very few insect and disease problems, and generally require only moderate fertility levels. Above all, herbs provide you with a continuing and satisfying hobby.

Below are basic instructions for planting herbs, outdoors in the garden, and indoors in containers.

Choosing An Outdoor Site For Growing Herbs

Herbs flourish under the same conditions that you provide for your flower or vegetable garden. Although most herbs will grow in partial shade, it is better if the herb garden receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day.

What Type of Soil Do Herbs Like?

A majority of herbs will grow well under a wide range of soil conditions, with the exception of extremely wet, poorly drained soils. Note, however, that sage, rosemary, and thyme require a well-drained but moderately moist soil. If the garden soil is poorly drained, you can improve the situation by modifying or amending it. Even more effective would be the use of raised beds. To improve soil fertility and tilth, add several cubic feet of compost per 100 square feet of soil before planting. Spade or till it into the soil thoroughly.

In general, herbs do better in soils of low to medium fertility, so additional fertilizer applications are not needed. Soils with high fertility tend to produce lots of foliage that is low in flavor. Prepare your garden site in the same manner that you would a vegetable garden, spading or tilling it to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. Then level and rake the site to remove any large clods and debris.

What Size Should An Herb Garden Be?

The size of your garden will depend largely upon the quantity of herbs that you need and want to grow. A dozen annuals and/or perennials will provide you with a good variety.

Where To Plant Herbs In The Landscape Garden

Decide on a type of garden. An herb garden can take any form. They can be planted in a formal garden; informally with flowers, trees, and shrubs; or in theme gardens. Most herbs prefer lots of sunshine so pick a sunny spot.

Formal Herb Garden: A formal herb garden generally is composed of a series of beds that are not identical but appear balanced. The herbs are arranged by height, foliage color, and/or use, often in rows. Wide walkways are used to separate the beds and give the garden a sense of spaciousness.

Formal gardens of the 16th century were designed as knot gardens. This style used plants to create intricate, geometric designs within a square or rectangle. The designs were often edged with low-growing hedges of lavender or boxwood that showed off the subtle characteristics of the herbs. When choosing plants for a knot garden, select those that are compact, low-growing, and are manageable. Some suggested herbs are thyme, germander, rue, hyssop, rosemary, and santolina. Avoid invasive herbs such as the mints. In addition to the herbs, statuary, topiaries, and container-grown plants are important features to include in a formal garden.

Informal Herb Garden: Herbs are typically planted in a garden by themselves. Unfortunately, many herbs look great in Spring and Summer, then become more scraggy and unattractive the rest of the season. For this reason, they are often informally combined with annual and perennial flowers, trees, shrubs, groundcovers, vegetables, or other plant materials in an informal garden. This allows you to take advantage of the various colors, textures, sizes, and shapes that other plants have to offer.

Herb Theme Gardens: Some gardeners prefer to select a specific theme for their herb garden and choose the herbs accordingly. Some examples are a kitchen garden (including thyme, sage, basil, tarragon, dill); a single color garden such as gray-green (including horehound, lavender, artemesia, and wormwood); a scented garden (including mint, scented geranium, lemon balm, silver thyme, and rosemary); or a garden with different varieties of a specific herb (common sage, Tricolor sage, golden sage, purple sage, clary sage, pineapple sage). The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Dont limit your use of herbs to specific situations. You can use them to enhance most any garden. Of course, some grow better as groundcovers, others as edging plants; still others are best when intermingled with different plants in a mixed border. Most, however, are best used where their fragrance and beauty can be appreciated upclose.




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