Starting Your Herbs
First make sure the spot you pick has sunshine and well drained soil. Add a bit of compost or fertilizer. Pots may be used and have the advantage of being moved to more prominent areas when herbs are in bloom, however herbs are healthier in the ground.
In cooler climates place herbs in full sun. If you live in hotter climates consider placing herbs under a tree where the plants can receive morning sun, about 4 hours, but then has a reprieve from afternoon blazing sunlight.
Prepare soil by digging down about 12 inches to loosen dirt and amend with compost. A lot of herbs are perennial and this will be the only time you will have to get this right, so make sure the soil has good drainage. Feel free to add an inch of compost to top dress as well.
If you are starting your herbs from seeds, make sure to follow the directions on the package for your area and plan to place in garden bed at the correct time for your zone.
You can also purchase healthy plants from your local hardware store or online. Just make sure you start with healthy, happy plants and don’t be tempted by the end of year bargains. Oregano, Mint and Rosemary are best put in the ground as plants.
Hardy Favorite Herbs;
Bay: One of my favorites, this herb is so versatile, much more than for soups and beans. Bay is hard to propagate, so purchase small plants. Must be grown in pots and brought in for zones higher than 10. Loves sun and does not like to be overwatered.
Rosemary: A perennial in zones 8-10 and if you mulch it you may be able to overwinter in northern regions as well. great to be planted in a pot. This can be used for so many dishes, especially chicken or lamb and it can be used fresh or dried. Bees and I love its blue flowers in the spring. How to Grow: Full Sun, tolerates rocky and poor soils, but must have good drainage. Likes alkaline soil
Oregano/Sweet Marjoram: A hardy perennial that will make it through harsh winters. It like to sprawl. Sweet Marjoram is better suited for growing in pots. They are very similar herbs, so I only grow Oregano. These herbs are a must for Italian cooking. I love adding Oregano to my crackers along with Thyme.
Mint: Best gotten as plants. There are so many different varieties and flavors. Mint is a great plant to get from friends as it sends out runners and it easy transplanted from just a small piece of root. Mint is one of the hardiest plants going and can thrive in almost any soil. Just make sure to corral it as it loves to spread out and can take over quickly.
Cilantro/Coriander: A hardy annual herb that should be grown from seed in succession plantings every couple of weeks in full sun. You can keep it from bolting if you keep it trimmed frequently. This plant may self sow if left to seed. The seeds may be harvested when pods start to turn brown.
Lavender: Bought mostly for it’s fragrance and flowers, this fairly hardy evergreen bush is also edibe. In some European countries, it is used as a insect deterrent. Lavender loves the sun and will do well in a drier soil as long as it has good drainage. It is best to purchase plants. Deadhead flowers after blooming.
Sage: There are a variety of flavors of sage, that range in in colors from dusty green to bright red (pineapple sage). Some are hardier than others. Sage loves sun, dry, well drained soil that is not overly rich. Buy as a plant or propagate as a stem cutting. Can grow quite large up to 3-4 feet. Lovely for Chicken or Lamb dishes.
Thyme: A low sprawling, woody plant that has tiny little leaves that are not only great for cooking, but are known to boost your immune system. Thyme goes with almost any dish. There are many varieties to choose from just make sure to get a variety good for cooking and not just ornamental. Grow in full sun. Thyme likes sandy, well drained soil with a bit of organic matter. Buy plants or get from a friend who Is dividing their patch.
Whether you are growing herbs indoors in your kitchen window or outside to add to a flower or vegetable garden, herbs are worth their weight in gardening fun.
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