Planning Your Herb Garden

Planning Your Herb Garden

Are you interested in edible landscaping? Do you want to add healthy, low-calorie flavors to your cooking? Would you love to be uplifted by the fragrances and tastes of summer? If so, you need an herb garden and it’s the perfect time to plan one. Here are some tips for planting herb gardens:

  • Choose an area with at least five hours of sun. Try to locate an herb garden as close to the kitchen door as possible so that it will be convenient to dash out for a sprig of this or a snip of that.
  • Most herbs appreciate well drained soil so don’t amend this bed with any peat moss. If your soil is very sandy or rocky a bit of compost is a fine soil amendment, but herbs actually have more flavor when grown in soil that is less-fertile.
  • Plant perennial herbs such as sage, thyme, oregano, and chives early in the spring. Parsley, cilantro, and rosemary can be planted early in the season as well.
  • Wait to plant basil and lemon verbena until the end of May on Cape Cod. Basil, in particular, is more cold sensitive.
  • Plan on growing mint in a large container instead of planting directly in your herb garden…mint spreads aggressively and is difficult to edit out once it has taken root. Oregano is also a plant that is prone to rapid spreading so is best grown in a container in small gardens.
  • Grow bay trees in a container so that you can bring them indoors for the winter. Sometimes rosemary over-winters on Cape Cod but often it doesn’t; you can either bring rosemary inside for the winter or plant it as an annual and be willing to be delighted if it lives through the winter.
  • Water newly planted herbs deeply about two times a week for the first three to four weeks…then ease off and water them deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain. Most herbs are quite drought tolerant once they’re established.
  • In new herb gardens lettuce makes a good filler in between herb plants while they are getting established. Plant your herbs at least 2 feet apart and scatter lettuce seeds in between. The lettuce plants will be pretty, fill the area, choke out weeds and you can eat it! Once the first crop is harvested you can sow more lettuce seeds all summer.
  • If you have room you can add flowers to your herb garden for color: those annuals that are edible such as pansies, marigolds and calendula are especially appropriate.
Young herbs grow quickly. When you buy a small herb, plant it in a much larger container or directly into the ground in late May. You’ll be amazed at how fast the plants grow!
If you’re growing vegetables, you also need herbs. This is the herb garden at the fairgrounds a few years ago. Basil, chives and coriander were just a few varieties grown here.

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