January 22, 2009

How to Plant a Kitchen Herb Garden


If you love to cook, there’s nothing more satisfying than stepping out of the kitchen and into an herb garden to pick your own fresh herbs. Essential ingredients in recipes from around the world, herbs awaken our our palates and appetites with the flavor, character and aromas they add to any dish.

In addition to culinary herbs, aromatic herbs can be grown for their scent and used in oils, candles and home made toiletries and potpourri. Medicinal herbs have been used since ancient times to prevent or ease many ailments from bug bites to digestive problems. Ornamental herbs not only look great in the garden, but can be added to floral arrangements and wreaths.

Many herbs are crossovers. They fit into more than one category. It’s nice to know that the garlic you ate at dinnertime for its great taste will also keep you safe from vampires later on that night (kidding!).

Herbs are not difficult to grow and you don’t need a lot of space. They are even resistant to disease. Easy for even the beginning gardener, they are also simple to harvest.
[ad#ad-2] 1. Pick a sunny site as close to your kitchen as possible with well-drained soil. Herbs grow best in six to eight hours of sun per day for denser, healthier foliage and more intense flavor.

2. Turn the soil over for aeration and easy planting and add a layer of compost.

3. Choose whatever herbs you like to cook, decorate or craft with. Many herbs are difficult to grow from seed, so you may want to purchase them as seedlings from your neighborhood nursery.

You’ll notice that some herbs are annuals and some are perennials. Annuals will need to be planted year after year, while perennials will grow back in the spring.

4. Plant your seedlings 12 to 18 inches apart. This might look a bit sparse at first, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly they grow and fill in the gaps.

Tips for Your Kitchen Herb Gardens:

* Water your herbs in the morning. Herbs do not like to be wet. Watering in the morning allows leaves to dry quickly in the morning sun.

* As your plants grow, pinch leaves from the top a little bit at a time. This will help your plants branch out and produce better.

* Do not remove too much of the leaves at once or it will become difficult for the plant to recover and produce more leaves.

* By separating your annuals from the perennials, you can replant annuals the next year without disturbing your already established plants.

* Keep plant size in mind. Taller plants look better toward the back or against the house, while shorter, spreading plants are better near the borders. This will aid in harvesting too.

* Some herbs, called tender perennials, have a hard time wintering over in the colder climates. If you live in a colder region, you might want to bring herbs such as rosemary indoors

Check out this no-fail system for planting your indoor herb garden

Creative Commons License photo credit: Schilling 2

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