Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tips for an Herb Garden

Let me start by telling you I do not have a green thumb.  I have an inability to keep any plant alive.  I don't know exactly why.  I think in the past, I forgot about them.  Or maybe I didn't do the research to learn how to properly care for my new plant(s).  At first, my husband was supportive in getting new plants for the house, and surprised when they turned up withered and dead in a month or two (if they even lasted that long...).  Eventually, he quit letting me buy plants and told me it was like a death sentence bringing them to our house. (Do you understand how bad I am??)  Now that we have a large yard, he has been in charge of the plants, and does a beautiful job caring for them, and six months later, they are flourishing.  We have one house plant right now, and he cares for that as well

I love cooking with fresh herbs.  Herbs are expensive though (with the exception of cilantro and parsley usually), and hard to keep on hand.  I have wanted an herb garden for years, but never had a good set up for one.  I have the perfect set up for one now.  So, I am trying again. (I did have basil make it through a summer once)  This time though, I am determined to keep them alive, and to see them do wonderful things.  I have been researching herb gardens, reading everything I can to learn how to properly prepare for my little garden, and my neighbor owns a nursery, so I pick his brain as well.  

I want to share some of what I have learned so far, and probably write about this again in the future as I learn more.  (I know this is an odd time to post about this, but I live in such a warm climate, that I can leave them outside for months still, and bring in only on the coldest days, you can start yours inside now and have growing herbs for next year!)

Here is a picture of my line up so far:

So far, so good.  I have Chives, Basil, Cilantro, Sweet Basil, Dill, Italian Oregano, Sage, Apple Mint, and Rosemary.  I still want plain Mint, Parsley, Fennel, Lavender, Thyme, and Tarragon.  I guess I will see how my 9 do first!

I picked planting them in pots for a few reason.  First, animals eat my other plants.  In pots, I can have them up off the ground.  Second, I can move them around to find the best spot for lots of sun, but if it is a very hot day, and especially right at first, I can move them into the shade.  Third, most of the year I can leave them outside, but for a few possible days that it may freeze, I can bring them inside.  Lastly, we have really hard, nutrient poor soil.  I wanted them to have great soil and the best chance for survival!  

For my pots, I decided to go with 8 inch plastic pots with drainage built into the bottom.  They are light-weight and inexpensive.  (light weight is good as I move them around to protect them from animals, storms, and too much sunlight at first).  Drainage holes are good to protect the plants from drowning, and 8 inches will allow the plants to expand as they grow (hopefully).

Because my pots are not that big, I bought potting soil for them.  I bought a 32 quart bag for 9 pots, and I have enough left over for at least 2 more.  My potting soil has time released food for the plants.  For large pots, you can use peanuts or wine corks to fill the bottom (this and other great info from Alanna Kellogg).

Herbs need a sunny place to live.  All the herbs that I have need 6+ hours of sunlight daily.  Herbs love SUN.  My neighbor recommended leaving the little info stick in, and calling that the south side of the plant.  Plants get "sunburned" on one side, and he says it is best to keep that side south.  

Herbs need watered daily, and some, like cilantro, need soil kept moist.  On really hot, dry days, it may need watered more than once.  Remember to water in the morning, before it gets too hot.  When the days cool down, that isn't as important. 

It is a good idea to fertilize them every 3-4 weeks for best growth, you can of course find organic fertilizer for this!  Herbs need nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, which can come from organic sources.

For the most part, harvest herbs as you need them.  For perennials, like basil, do not let them bloom.  The plant will spend it's energy on that bloom, when you really want the leaves.  Snip the bloom as soon as it appears.  Also, when that bloom appears, you will have the best and most fragrant leaves, so snip some of those too. 

Do you grow herbs?  Tell me which ones in the comment section, any tips you have, and if you want to send me a picture, I will post it here!  (send it too jennasteprd@gmail.com)



Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading! If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right. Also, we would love to have you join us! Join this site in the "followers" box to the right. "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right. Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

2 comments:

  1. Hi Jenna! these are some wonderful gardening tips and this is my first visit and so happy to bookmark.

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    1. Hi Sara! Thank you so much for reading, and for your sweet comment! I'm glad you found them useful :)

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