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HERBS: CARE GUIDE

by dig the dirt editor

Herbs have been cultivated for thousands of years for both their culinary and medicinal purposes. These fragrant and flavorful plants still play an important role in every kitchen garden. Even a tiny plot can provide you with enough herbs to use fresh, frozen, or dried.

                   Annual herbs | choosing a site | containers | drying herbs for cooking |

                    repotting herbs | packing and unpacking | care for indoor herbs | index

Herbs are easy to raise, even if you've never gardened before. If you have the space, you can plant a formal herb garden that is both attractive and plentiful. If you are short on space, you can tuck your favorite herbs amid other plantings in your vegetable or flower garden. Many low-growing herbs, such as creeping rosemary and thyme make lovely edging plants for vegetable or flower gardens. In our Test Gardens, we always edge our rose borders with lavender or variegated sage and our vegetable beds with parsley. 

                                    Thyme.detail

                                                          thyme

                                  Lavender.detail

                                                        lavender

                                   Creeping-rosemary.detail   

                                                       creeping rosemary

General care for all herbs

  • Watering: Determining how often to water your herbs depends on the season, the plant, ambient humidity, air movement, exposure to the sun, and temperature. In general, plants should be watered before they get completely dry, but not so often that the soil stays soggy. Under most conditions and in most areas of America, a deep (so that the soil is wetted 8"-12" below the surface) watering once a week should suffice after the plants are established. If you are potting your herbs, it is very important to use pots with drainage holes, and that they're not left to stand in water for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • Fertilization: Plants confined to pots need more attention paid to their nourishment than garden plants. The easiest way to accomplish this is by feeding with a weak (1/2 strength) water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during periods of active growth. A natural, slow-release formula will nourish the soil as well as the plants. When foliar feeding, apply the fertilizer in the early morning hours before the sun has warmed the plants. Scratch pelletized or granular formulas into the top 1 to 2 inches of soil. During periods of dormancy, do not fertilize at all -- the plants are resting and will not benefit from the fertilizer. In fact, fertilizing your plants during dormancy may kill them.
  • Harvesting: Harvest annual herbs in the morning after the dew dries but before the day is hot. Give annual herbs their final cut before the first frost. Wait to harvest perennial herbs the year after planting, doing so only once a year. Avoid cutting into the older woody growth.

Tags

Herbs, Thyme, creeping rosemary, Care Guides, lavender, Sage

comments

I love the idea of edging the veggie beds with parsley! Will put that on the to do list for this year.
Sprite
gardengirl commented on 01/12/10

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