Surprisingly Simple Herb Gardens

Can you remember the extraordinarily high price of fresh herbs in your local supermarket last summer?

Would you like to save some money and grow your own? It's really quite easy and all you need is a few seeds and a sunny location.

When you plan your herb garden it is important to decide whether you will grow your fresh flavorful herbs indoors or outdoors. You also need to decide which herbs will be the most useful for you and your family.

I like to start my herbs indoors in peat pots and then transplant them out into the herb garden. It's a good idea to learn as much as you can about the herbs you plan on growing. You want to keep the taller herbs in the back and the shorter ones in the front of the garden so they'll all benefit from the available sun light.

Selecting the herbs

For a beginning herb gardener five or six different herbs will supply ample variety for the kitchen. I would recommend beginning with chives, dill, oregano, sage, basil, and thyme.

These are all herbs with which most of us are familiar. They can be used with a wide variety of popular dishes.

Chives go well with beef, poultry, fish and salads. Dill is also very good with salads and especially over salmon. Oregano is known for its use in pasta dishes and also can be used in soups and salads. Sage is a favorite over any meat or with most vegetables. Basal goes well with poultry, fish and try it in your home made coleslaw. Thyme can be used with poultry, fish, soups, carrots, peas, tomatoes or whatever your culinary experiments require.

Preparing the soil

To get the most productive plants possible you need a sunny area and fertile soil. Most of us will need to do a little work to bring the soil up to an acceptable standard. For a small herb garden this is really not that difficult.

The addition of organic material, compost and manure is usually all that is required to reenergize a lackluster soil. Whether your soil is of the clay type or sandy an increase in the organic material will usually be sufficient to improve drainage as well
as adding nutrients.

The addition of some compost made of old grass clippings, leaves and food material as well as some commercially purchased peat will improve the soil quickly and efficiently. A small amount of sawdust can also be added to increase the organic make up.

If your soil is extremely hard with a large amount of clay, the addition of sand as well as the organic material may be necessary.

Herbs can also be planted among your vegetables or flowers. Just be sure to keep them watered, fed and weeded.

Herbs also do quite well in containers provided they get enough sun. So if you're limited in garden space consider some containers around your patio, deck or window sill.

Planting

Starting this seeds indoors in peat pellets is my favorite method. You can get peat pellets at your local gardening supply store. They are compressed peat which when you add water and place a few seeds on them create their own transplantable pot.

Place several seeds on each pellet, after they sprout and begin to grow you can thin the smaller and weaker plants and be assured of vibrant healthy plant stock.

You can also start seeds by pre-sprouting. To do this you wet a paper towel place the seeds on it then cover with another wet paper towel. Place this inside a sealed container or plastic bag and keep in a warm spot. The seeds should begin to sprout
within a couple of days.

You then can transplant the sprouted seeds into the soil. However by using the peat pellets you don't have to handle the delicate sprouts.

Herbs can also be purchased as seedlings for little as a dollar per plant.

Keep your herb garden watered and weed free and you'll be enjoying fresh succulent herbs throughout the summer.

When the recipe calls for a teaspoon of dried herbs you can substitute a tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Harvesting

It is best to harvest your herbs when they are dry. When harvesting leaves be sure to take them before the flowers start to bloom if you can.

When harvesting seeds wait until the seeds begin to fall off the plants. Herbs that are to be dried just need to have a few sprigs snipped off, tie them into small bundles and hang them in a cool dry area.

You can also lay them flat on a racked made of window screen. This allows air to circulate on all sides of the plants. I recommend the rack method when drying roots.

Storing your herbs

Dried herbs can be stored in clean dark glass jars with tight fitting lids. Regular canning jars can be used as well.

If you save the plastic jars that herbs typically come in you can refill them with your own homegrown herbs, they will already be labeled.

Use and enjoy your homegrown herbs throughout the winter while you plan your expanded herb garden for next spring.

Garden Stores

Blooming Bulb

Brecks Bulbs

Ginnys Catalog

Home Marketplace

Home Visions

Michigan Bulb

Montgomery Ward

Plow and Hearth

Spring Hill Nurseries

Swiss Colony

The Country Door

Terry's Village

Wayside Gardens

 


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