Learn how to grow herbs and get some ideas
about herb garden designs and herb growing in general. You may also be
interested in our page on Growing
if you have limited space.
Herb gardens have existed for centuries to produce both cooking herbs
for herbal teas and potions. Having a herb garden is
one way one can heal oneself very cheaply when you have the odd cough
or scratch. Herbs are also ideal to use in homemade
Most herb gardens are grown in a formal layout with a centerpiece of
either a bench where you can sit and enjoy the perfume of the herbs at
twilight, or a fountain, sundial, bird bath or the like so that the eye
is drawn to the center. Brick or stone paths are laid to keep the mud
down when harvesting your herbs, and formal box hedges are usually
grown on the outer edges for neatness.
The best time to establish a herb garden is in the spring
This is the
time where the plants are experiencing new growth, and it won't be long
when the herbs finally establish themselves through the summer and grow
vigorously. So therefore, learning how to grow herbs beforehand is a
There are 2 types of herbs that you will be planting. Perennial
that as plants are often sold in nurseries
in pots and will grow for several years before they either need to be
divided or be replaced. The other type of herb is short lived, only
existing for a season and can be raised from seed. During the winter
months it is advisable to mulch your perennial herbs that will offer
some protection to the plants from the cold after they die back.
Where and How to Grow Herbs
Herbs are really fairly easy to grow, and will grow virtually anywhere.
For those of you looking for formal herb gardens you can see
fine examples of these in heritage houses in the UK, France and Italy.
Of course, not everyone wants the back-breaking work that goes with
maintaining such a herb garden, but you can learn how to grow herbs in
a similar way just by growing them in a circle.
Herb Garden Design
Using a Wagon Wheel
If you have an old wagon wheel
lying about the farm or homestead they
make the perfect framework for planting herbs where each section of the
spoke can be planted with a different herb. However, even if you don't
have a wagon wheel you can still plant your herbs in a circle.
The center section of the wagon wheel is usually used to grow taller
as lemon grass, French lavender or rosemary. In the spaces between the
spokes you can plant medium growing herbs such as English
lavender, lemon balm, lemon or rose-scented geraniums and
Around the outside edge of the beds plant thyme, chamomile,
garlic and onion chives and some penny royal that will benefit from the
shade of other herbs.
Avoid growing herbs in your herb garden that will be invasive and take
over. Lovage and borage are very prolific growers, as is tansy and
However, tansy is an ideal herb to grow in an area where nothing else
Growing Herbs at Home
How to Grow Herbs - The Best Soil and Ideal Growing
Conditions for Growing Herbs
Learning how to grow herbs is simple when you realize that the two most
important growing conditions are some sunlight, good soil and a steady
supply of water. Other than that, they are not fussy.
Herbs don't like wet feet
, therefore your
soil should be free-draining
but it must also have enough nutrients in it for good growth.
Sage and thyme are two plants that hate growing in
waterlogged areas and will soon turn their toes up and die.
When preparing the best soil for growing herbs make sure that your soil
has a good mixture of
farmyard manure and a good amount of blood and bone to provide the
nutrients your herbs will need.
Break the soil to a depth of
2 feet and add 5 pounds of blood and bone per a circular bed with a
diameter of 12 - 15 feet. If you don't have a circular bed
then add 4-5 large handfuls of blood and bone per square yard. If you
overfeed you will end up with sappy, leggy plants with no flavor, and
they will be an open invitation for your garden insects to come and
feast to their heart's delight.
Also make sure that your soil has the correct pH balance. Herbs like an
alkaline soil where the pH is above 7.0
If your soil is acidic add
lime or dolomite.
After you have planted out your herbs add another layer of compost as
this will prevent the soil from crusting when it is watered, allowing
the surface roots to breathe.
How to Grow Herbs - Pests and Diseases
by comparison to growing vegetables and other garden plants, herbs do
not suffer from too many pests and diseases.
The main garden
pests that attack your growing herbs are grasshoppers;
both the large green and speckled brown variety, and they seem to love
eating comfrey, catnip and lemon balm. When the weather is humid caterpillars
seem to visit to feast on the young leaves of tarragon, salad burnet
and marjoram. Slugs and snails also seem
to like fresh horseradish leaves. Occasionally, you will also see a few
aphids on fennel or dill stems just below
said that, because of the oils in most herbs, pests tend to stay away
and if you look after your herb garden, and have conditioned your soil
well, then your pest invasion should be kept to a minimum.
Garlic, chives, tansy, rue, lavender, and
are always pest free herbs because of their strong aromatic oils. As a
result, these herbs, either individually or together, make a very
powerful insecticide. Wormwood and southernwood are also very pungent
herbs that are not delicious for pests as the leaves give off a strong
smell of ether. If you plant either wormwood
outside your back and front door of your house you won't have a fly
problem. These are also ideal herbs to grow in your chicken coops as it
keeps the lice population down.
How to Grow Herbs and Natural Pesticides
you only have a small herb garden, then remove the pests by hand. Never
spray with any commercial pesticide as you will be using these herbs
later in cooking or for cosmetic purposes. However, there are a few
natural pesticides that you can use to keep your herbs healthy.
is a pure organic powder made from the derris root. It kills on contact
caterpillars and grasshoppers, but if you mix it with pyrethrum it is
more effective. Dust your herbs just before dusk in order to keep the
bees safe who will be out in the morning as you don't want to end up
killing the bees.
can also be
used on your herbs to keep pests away. Cut up 3 pounds of the leaves
and boil in 3 quarts of water for 30 minutes. Strain and add 4 ounces
of a soft soap. Dishwashing liquid is fine for this as all you want it
for is to use it as a sticking agent. This spray can also be used on
aphids when growing roses. If you use the rhubarb spray don't harvest
the herbs for at least 2 weeks.
off the floors of tobacco drying sheds, or breaking up cigarettes to
extract the tobacco work as well. Boil 4 ounces of tobacco dust or
contents of the cigarettes (without the filter) in a gallon of water
for 30 minutes. Strain the clear brown liquid, and bottle it carefully
labeled and keep away from small children. Spray your herbs but leave
the herbs for 3 weeks before harvesting, as this is quite poisonous.
See our page on natural
pesticides for more information.
How to Grow Herbs and Fungal Diseases
seldom suffer from fungal diseases if the soil is well drained,
adequately limed or dolomited and full or organic matter. Many types of
micro-organisms found in organic compost kill off mildew and
fungus-producing spores that normally live in poor soil. Using dolomite
in the soil helps not only to feed the herbs but also works to protect
the herbs against fungal disease and root-rot.
If you find that your herbs do have a touch of fungal disease
you will need to act quickly.
Here is an effective homemade fungal spray:
Boil 1 part dried horsetail leaves
to 50 parts water for 15 - 20 minutes. Do not make the brew any
stronger as this is a potent herb. Cool and water the soil around the
base of affected herb plants that has been well watered the day before.
What Herbs should you Grow in Your Herb Garden?
After people learn how to grow herbs the most common question asked
after that is what herbs should go into a herb garden. But it really
comes down to a matter of taste and why you are planting out a herb
garden in the first place. Is it a mixed-use herb garden for herbal
remedies and for cooking, or is it just for cooking, or just for herbal
teas and herbal remedies.
Herbs for Cooking
My 5 Best Cooking Herbs
1) Having a bay tree
in your garden not only makes a great hedge plant, but it is also great
to use the leaves to flavor dishes. Just remember to remove the bay
leaves before serving as they go brittle and break up in the food. You
can also grow bay trees very successfully in containers.
2) The second best cooking herb is basil
I have my basil growing both in the garden and on my kitchen counter in
winter. It is a summer-growing annual but by growing it inside in the
winter months you are guaranteed of having basil all year round.
3) Then there rosemary
It is such a hardy herb and I am constantly cutting from it for roast
potatoes, roast pumpkin and also essential for your roast lamb where I
make pockets into the meat and add 2 inch pieces of rosemary with
slices of garlic. Rosemary also makes a great low hedge.
is another good culinary herb that we use all the time. There is the
Italian flat parsley, which is packed with flavor, and then there is
the curly parsley. I use both, although I prefer the Italian parsley.
Legend says that you have to be wicked to be able to grow parsley
successfully. Well, I never have much trouble, so I guess that says a
5) Finally, I love mint
There are so many varieties, but they all love a cool, moist spot in
the garden. Once it is established and happy it will spread everywhere,
so plant with care.
These are my favorite culinary herbs, but
planting herbs for cooking depends on what you like eating. There is no
point in planting
a herb if no one in the family will eat it.
like eating salads
then you will want to plant herbs such
dandelion, parsley and chives.
If you cook a lot of
you will want to plant fennel, basil and Italian flat-leafed parsley.
If you like making
iced-tea and fruit cocktails
then mint is
And finally if you like
to cook stews and casseroles
such as sage, thyme, marjoram, dill, chervil and winter savory would be
Here's a Hint:
is not just Basil that will do well indoors during the colder months.
Parsley, chives, thyme and marjoram call all be dug out of your garden
in autumn and placed in pots to line your kitchen window sills.
Herbs for Medicinal Purposes
For those of you who are growing herbs for herbal remedies and herbal
teas then plant peppermint and spearmint, comfrey, chamomile
and lemon grass. Lemon balm, comfrey, horehound, horseradish, hyssop,
rosemary, sage, thyme and yarrow are staple herbs for medicinal
Drying Herbs from the Herb Garden
Drying herbs is the best way to preserve herbs. For best results the
herbs should be picked in the early morning after the morning dew has
dried, and mid-summer is the best time just before the herbs start to
flower. Take either sprigs of herbs or the top 15 cm as this is where
the concentration of flavor, perfume or medicinal value will be.
Tie the sprigs together and then hang them upside down in an airy room
that doesn't get direct sunlight. Make sure that there is enough air
circulating the room and in between the herbs themselves.
An alternative method of drying herbs is to remove the leaves from the
plants and place them on some newspaper or cheesecloth to dry out.
Leave the leaves until they are thoroughly dry and crumble easily. You
will need dry air to dry herbs successfully in this way.
If you live in a tropical climate where you have high humidity, then it
is better to dry your herbs in a slow oven. Place herbs in an oven at
65ºC for a few minutes leaving the oven door open.
Dried herbs can be stored in airtight containers. After a few days
check the containers to see if there is still some moisture evident
through transpiration. If there is, remove the herbs immediately and
dry them out for a couple of days more, or return to the oven for
another couple of minutes.
Some herbs are not successful for drying as they loose their flavour
when dried. These herbs are better preserved by freezing rather than
drying. Herbs that fall into this category are parsley, basil, dill,
chives and mint. Wash and place in plastic bags and freeze immediately.
know you know how to grow herbs there is no excuse to start a small
herb garden where you can enjoy using them in a variety of ways.
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