Herbs

Perennial, Annual and Self-Seeders

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Growing Herbs for :

Culinary and Health Benefits

Herbs generally need very little care once established.
Herbs like soil that is slightly acid with PH around 6.5, moderate rich with well drained soil and full sun, but it will tolerate only 6 hours of sunlight a day. Prepare your soil by "double digging " it and add compost. If your herb garden is still too wet, maybe you should consider a raised bed, but not too high because the soil can become too dry in the summer and winter. Most herbs can be heavy mulched except for the Mediterranean herbs like; thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram and oregano. Most of the Mediterranean herbs prefer to be weeded instead of mulched since they are used to be grown in rocky soil with very little vegetable matter around their woody stems. In the winter, I do cover my herbs with pine branches or whatever branches I have to give them some protection from our ice storms. I have some culinary herbs that I cook with, but most of my herbs are used to make teas.

Soil and Caring for Herbs:

Planting and Caring for herbs are basically the same as any other plant. The soil has to be well drained with 6.5 PH and get full sun for at least 6 hours. The main thing to consider with keeping herbs looking beautiful is to keep them pruned. So, pruning herbs for cooking will keep your herb plants in good form. For best results prune herbs in a cool cloudy day so the undergrowth won't be suddenly exposed to the hot sun.

Best Herbs to Grow in Pots:

I say "grow what you like ". Well drained soil, water and lots of sun is the key. Growing Herbs in pots or large containers are a good option for a gardener who is short on space or time. Maintenance chores are reduced except for water. I plan to pant a large pot, full of herbs this spring by my backdoor, with herbs that I use most frequently. I will plant Basil, Parsley, Thyme, Sage and Rosemary and some type of flower, probably Marigolds. As for the soil; I will potting soil with extra perlite for drainage. Rosemary and Basil is not a perennial where I live so I'll try to over-winter Rosemary and just collects seeds from the Basil for next year. I also like Mint and Lavender, but I will leave those in the garden because they like growing where they are. Lavender will be nice for colour in a pot full of herbs.

Perennial herbs in Zon6

Garlic, Chives, Oregano, Lemon Balm, Sage, Garlic Chives, Onion Chives, Thyme, Dill, Parsley and Mint.

Annual and Self-Sow Herbs in Zone6

Annual: Basil, Tarragon and Rosemary. That's all I have tried.

Self-Sow:

Dill, Chamomile, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Onion Chives, Garlic Chives and Italian Parsley. I am constantly pulling out the extra blessings.

Harvesting, Storing & Drying Herbs:

Pick and use your Herbs while they at their best. Herbs leaves are at their peak of goodness just as the plant is about to form flower buds. Cut Herbs in the morning just after the sun has dried out the morning due. Cut the herb plant up to 3/4 off before hurting the plant. Plants like Parsley, remove the outside leaves and leave the centre part intact, so the parsley plant will continue to grow.

Drying Herbs:
Wash or not to wash before drying them. I wash mine in a week solution of vinegar and water. Going to hide now. :)

Air Drying:
Air Drying is the easiest. Cut the Herb with seeds, put in paper bag, label bag and hang to dry. Or just cut herbs, dry them on racks in a cool, dry and dark place. Cover them with paper to keep them dust free.

Oven Drying:
I line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Turn oven at very low heat - 150 degrees. When the herbs are crisp, remove the leaves from the stems, crumbles the leaves and store them in jars.

Microwave:
I have burnt a few of my herbs in the microwave. Basil smell the worst. :) The herbs do retain their colour and potency when they are microwaved. Line the microwave glass tray with paper towel and spread the herb leaves on it. Cover with paper towel again. Microwave for 1 minute and check. If the leaves are still soft do it again at 20 second intervals.

Culinary Herbs:

I only have a few. Garlic, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Mint, Dill, Fennel, Basil and Thyme.

Herbs for Tea:

Rosemary, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Mint, Fennel, Lavender, Oregano, Rose hips and Basil.

Companion Planting:

Everyone and Everything needs a friend. :) There are a few things to consider when selecting plants as companions. Some plants are heavy feeders and some not so much. Deep-rooted plants will grow well next to a shallow-rooted companion. Some plants have odors that will attract beneficial insects that will helps other plants around them. Many herbs are used as companion plants for vegetables and flowers. Basil is grown with Tomatoes. Garlic with Roses. Mint and Marigolds with Cabbages. Catnip discourages flea beetle on eggplants.

Where to Grow Herbs:

I grow my Herbs at the edge of my vegetable garden, but quite often I find them growing in the lawn. This year I will grow some in a big pot that I have by my backdoor. Maybe a Sage Plant in the middle, around on the outside, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary and Marigolds. Basil and Rosemary is not a perennial where I live. So I'll collect the seeds from the Basil and try to winter the Rosemary. I did winter Rosemary one year and it grew into a pretty Herb Standard and then I forgot to water it and it died. I love the scent of Basil and Rosemary.

Growing as a Standard

I grew a Rosemary as a standard, but I got busy and forgot to water it and it died. I find a piece of bamboo stick that was the size of the herb standard I wanted to be. I poked the bamboo next to the Rosemary trunk and attached with twist tie every 3" As the Rosemary start to grow I started shaping into a ball. By the time I killed my little herb tree; it was so fragrant and it bloomed tiny little lavender blooms and I was so sad when it died. I will buy another Rosemary herb as soon as I find some and see how long it will last before :(
Gifts from the garden || Container Gardening || Infusing Oils and Vinegars with Herbs

Templates at Homes-n-Gardens.com:

Herb Seed Packet Templates
Earth Day seed packet template
Small envelopes to share favourite Herbal tea
Aromatherapy for Baths