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If you are still a rookie gardener, starting a herb garden would be a great way to commence your gardening journey. A herb garden does not need a lot of effort or space.
You can start your own herb garden in your backyard and use them to add flavor to all sorts of foods and drinks. Not to mention the amazing sights and fragrances your herb garden will let you enjoy.
Most of the herbs require at least six hours of bright sunlight each day for proper growth. Else, they will get leggy or spindly, and you will leave you with long stems and few leaves. However, some herbs may grow well in partial or dappled sunlight as well.
Growing herbs can be a fun experience. They are easy to maintain and do not require a lot of know-how. Starting a herb garden would not only add flavor to your meals but will also add beauty to your backyard. However, there are a few things that you can do to help your herb garden thrive.
Read on to get all your questions answered about growing herbs.
What Should I Consider While Starting a Herb Garden?
It is important to keep in mind that most of the herbs are native to the Mediterranean. So, providing them with conditions similar to the region will help them thrive. Here are a few factors that one must consider while starting a herb garden:
Location and Sunlight
Location plays an important role for both outdoor-grown as well as indoor-grown herbs. Other than this, spacing is also something that should be taken into consideration. While herbs like cilantro, chives, and parsley would need around 1 foot, rosemary, sage, and mints may require as much as 4 feet of space. You can easily know about each herb’s requirements by having a look at the seed packet. Also, it is important to pick a location that provides plenty of sunshine to the herbs. Most herbs need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day.
A site with well-drained loam soil would help your herbs grow well. You can also carry out a soil test in different areas of your garden to get a better idea. Herbs usually thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH between 6.0 and 7.0). You can also consider raised bed gardening if the quality of soil is unsatisfactory.
You might not a lot of fertilizer if you are building an outdoor herb garden. Herbs like sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme would hardly ever need any fertilizer. You can just throw in some organic nutrients to help them grow better. You can also use time-release organic fertilizer or liquid fertilizer in moderate proportions.
However, indoor gardens or herbs in containers would require some extra care. This is because they use up nutrients constantly while they grow. Also, potted plants dry out quickly which means you would also have to water them more often.
Herbs usually require plenty of water. So, you need to be sure that you water them daily. While thyme and sage can be allowed to dry a bit, most of the herbs should remain moderately damp to semi-dry soil. But this does not mean that you should flood them as it could lead to root rot. Also, some herbs are more drought-tolerant and would prefer slightly damp soil.
Beginners are usually afraid of harvesting herbs. However, frequent harvesting will help them grow and produce more foliage. All you need to do is simply cut around 1/3 of the branches when it is at least 6 to 8 inches tall.
Should I Grow Herbs Inside or Outside?
Herbs can be grown both indoors and outdoors, depending on your availability. As mentioned earlier, you need to offer them Mediterranean settings to help them flourish. So, if you are able to offer those conditions to your herbs at the location you choose, you don’t have to worry. One can also combine the two by growing them in containers. The herbs can be outside during the growing season and you can move them inside when it starts getting cold.
If you do not have a proper outdoor site that gets proper sunlight, you can grow your herbs inside. Lemon balm and tarragon are among a few herbs that can do well in indirect lighting. You can keep them on your windowsill and rotate pots often so that each side receives sufficient light for uniform growth. Windowsills facing southwest offer maximum sunlight.
You can also grow them in your room with a maintained temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius during daytime with 30 to 50 percent humidity. To offer them sufficient light, you can use fluorescent lights or special grow lamps for around 14 to 16 hours every day.
Which Are the Best Herbs to Grow Indoors?
Tender herbs that are leady and fast-growing can be grown indoors. Take cutting frequently, and they will be able to grow better and quicker. Chives, lemon balm, mint, parsley, and tarragon are some of the herbs that will be a great fit for your indoor garden.
Even herbs that require less watering like thyme, oregano, sage, bay, and rosemary could prove to be good options. However, all these herbs will thrive only if they are provided with all the previously mentioned conditions.
Which Plants and Herbs Can be Planted Together?
You can plant a lot of other plants and herbs together in your garden. Annual herbs such as basil and dill go well along with vegetables or perennial herbs.
If you plan to start perennial herbs like oregano, thyme, or sage, it is better to create an exclusive herb garden for them. Some herbs thrive when planted along with other herbs and plants and promote their overall health and growth.
Moreover, watering, harvesting, pruning, and overall maintenance would be much easier when more herbs and plants are planted together.
Which are The Best Herbs to Grow from Seeds?
Planting herb seedlings are considered to be much easier as compared to starting them from seeds. So, if you plan to grow herbs from seeds, there are quite a few things that you should consider. Firstly, you need to pick the correct time to start the seeds, especially while planting outdoors.
The weather and temperature in your area will play an important role in germination. It is better to plant herbs outdoors during spring after the risk of frost has passed.
But, if you are growing your seeds in a container, you would need a seed starting mixture that will help the tiny seedling roots to grow. Some of the herbs that you can grow from seeds are basil, calendula, chives, dill, fennel, lemon balm, and oregano.
How to Maintain a Herb Garden?
Once you have successfully established your herb garden, you would need to do little maintenance to ensure your herbs keep flourishing. Since herbs are usually quite hardy, they would not require a lot of effort.
A lot of herbs even produce oils and chemicals that naturally repel pests. Regular watering, pruning, fertilizing, mulching (if needed), harvesting, and cleaning would promote better growth and offer you flavourful and aromatic herbs.
How to Preserve Herbs?
Preserving fresh herbs allows you to use them all year round. You can use them to add flavor to your everyday meal. There is more than one way to preserve herbs. You can either freeze them or dry them.
To freeze your herbs, you need to place a few leaves in freezer wrap. Then, it would be best if you spread them on a tray place them in the freezer. You can store these when they are frozen. You can also dice the herbs and pack them into ice cube trays, filling the gaps with water. Pop the frozen cubes and store them in an airtight container to be used later.
To dry your herbs, you can use a food dehydrator, microwave, or oven. If the temperature and weather allow, you can even try indoor air-drying.
When the leaves crumble off the stem, it means that the herbs are dry. However, avoid crushing the leaves as they would lose their flavor. Only crush the leaves when you are going to use them.
Once the herbs are dehydrated, you can store them in an airtight container and use them to add flavor to your foods and drinks. You can use dried herbs for about 2-3 years. However, for the best flavor, you should use them up in a year or so.
Conclusion Do Herbs Need Bright Sun to Grow
Whether you wish to start a herb garden for healthier and flavourful meals or as a hobby, it can prove to be an adventurous and insightful journey. Whether you build a herb garden on your windowsill or in your backyard, you would get to know how much we are dependant on herbs in our daily lives.
Hoping that this answers most of your questions regarding starting a herb garden. Now, it’s ‘thyme’ for you to build your own!
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