Monday, April 20, 2009

Tending your Herb Garden

Now that you have selected your sunny well drained site, chosen the herbs you will find most useful and planned a simple design, your herb garden is very close to reality even if it is still entirely on paper.

For a small garden with just a few plants, it is sometimes better to purchase herbs in pots and already sizable enough to plant out.

Prepare the soil as you would any new bed, by deep spading and incorporating compost. It's quite true that herbs do not do their best in overly rich soil, so ordinary garden soil will produce a generous crop. On the other hand weeding and cultivating is made easier with proper preparation. Incorporate lime in the area because herbs like an alkaline situation and give them a hearty meal of bonemeal. That's all the special treatment they require.

Referring to the design charted on paper, set the plants in place according to your plan, adjusting the spacing as necessary until it gives you satisfaction. Now you are ready to plant the herbs.

Be absolutely sure to plant them with the labels, an essential means of developing familiarity with your new friends. It will help others too, who come to view your herb garden. Visitors who read "chives' or "tarragon" or "savory" know what they are looking at.

Water them in and continue to keep them watered if they wilt. However, pampering them is not necessary once they become established.

Besides weeding and cultivating (a thick mulch will take care of this chore), the most important herb gardening task is cutting and trimming. Keep them clipped!

When the mint gets out of hand and sprawls beyond its allotted space, cut it back. When the chives are a foot tall, keep them cut and used. Trim the thymes and sages with shears into neat little clumps, occupying only as much area as you wish them to have.

Collect the clippings, the precious harvest, to freeze or dry. Enjoy the fragrant little bouquets on your kitchen table and desk at work. There you can finger them, sniff them, call them by name and get to know them better.

PS: The most important advice here is "keep them clipped" This is the key to successful herb gardening!

1 comment:

Steph said...

I love the drawing! I'm putting in my herb garden now, as well. Working on lavender, lemon verbena and rosemary. We already have mint, dill, basil and fennel. :-) Fun!