Landscaping with Herbs
This is the first factor to consider when starting an herb garden. Most herbs like full sun and well drained soil. When placing your garden make sure it receives as much direct sunlight as possible. A minimum of six hours will help to ensure healthy plants. Remember that winter wind will kill more plants than temperature. The use of windbreaks such as building walls, hedges, and other garden features will help to protect plants and create a microclimate in which you will be able to grow plants tender to your area.
The next important factor in good herb growing is preparing the soil. The make up of the soil will determine the health of plants and the amount of harvest. Soil amendments such as compost, peat moss, and well composted manure will improve the soil’s structure and friability. The best solution for the herb garden is the raised bed, which ensures good drainage and warms up faster in the spring.
Herbs should be selected based on variations in color, texture, and height. Try to choose a few larger and architecturally bold herbs for structure if the space allows. Consider not only appearance but function. Many herbs have culinary and medicinal uses that may be incorporated into daily life. Other herbs can provide cut flowers throughout the growing season which can improve quality of life indoors. Do not be afraid to mix herbs with other perennials in border plantings or in vegetable gardens. Be creative and enjoy!
After your herbs are planted, you will need to monitor them on a regular basis. During hot weather they should receive at least one inch of moisture per week. Some plants, such as thyme, require less water. Regular, gentle pruning will help prevent fungal disease by improving air circulation around the plant. It will also keep the plants more compact and less woody. Mulching will help to reduce the amount of work by eliminating weeds, retaining soil moisture, cooling summer soils, and protecting the plant’s roots in winter. Whether harvesting herbs for fresh use or preserving them for later use, there are a few things to keep in mind. Wait to harvest your herbs until the plant has reached sufficient growth to withstand cutting. Ideally, herbs should be harvested mid¬morning, after the dew has dried, but before the sun can wilt them. Harvesting just before the plant flowers ensures the highest level of flavor, since that is when essential oils are at their peak. Refrain from major pruning of perennial herbs 45 days prior to the first hard frost. This will allow new growth to harden off and enable the plant to store up energy for winter.