Growing Your Herbs

Sowing:

  1. Fill your standard size seed tray with a recommended seedling compost. Firm and water the compost.
  2. Sprinkle seeds thinly on top of compost. Cover with a thin layer of compost and lightly water with a fine nozzle.
  3. Cover with a sheet of newspaper, place propagator lid over top and place in desired temperature for germination. Check your seed packet for germination time.
  4. Check regularly for germination and remove paper as soon as germination takes place.

Pricking out:

  1. Place the cell tray inserts into another seed tray and fill with a recommended potting compost.
  2. Remove each seedling carefully by loosening compost around roots with a fork and lifting by the first leaves avoiding damage to the root and place one in each cell.
  3. Lightly water the seedlings and keep moist in growing season.
  4. When the plants have grown sufficiently and weather conditions allow, remove the individual plants in their compost by pushing up from the bottom of the insert, avoiding damage to the root.

Planting out:

Once your seedlings are established, there are various things to be considered prior to planting out, whether they are being planted in pots or directly into the garden.

Growing conditions:

As with any other plant it is essential that the right growing conditions are available for your herbs, to ensure that they are vigorous and healthy. Generally speaking, most species of herb prefer well drained soils in a sunny and sheltered spot, perhaps along a wall or fence. However some herbs may have more specific requirements and it is always advisable to check the particular conditions preferred by each herb prior to planting them out.

Other considerations:

When creating a herb garden or planting them into a bed, it is important to consider the height that plants will eventually reach. Taller herbs, such as dill and lovage should be planted to the back of the bed, medium sized herbs to the middle, and the shorter herbs and those that provide ground cover should be positioned to the front. Herbs such as thyme and oregano are good ground covering plants and can be used to form a carpet of plants.

Wherever possible choose a spot close to the kitchen or back door. This makes gathering easier, especially in wet weather!

Soil Preparation:

Dig the soil over thoroughly, preferably before winter so that winter frosts will break it up and improve its texture and drainage. Immediately prior to planting, dig in some compost or well rotted manure to enrich the soil. Water immediately.

Do not plant herbs too close together as many are spreading plants and need room to grow. Check seed packet for guidelines.

Aftercare:

Once planted, pick herbs regularly to encourage healthy growth. In herb beds it is important to trim back the more vigorous species in spring time to prevent them taking over.

The growing season of herbs planted in pots can be extended, by bringing them into greenhouses or conservatories when the first autumn frosts are forecast.

Common Pests & Diseases:

Herbs on the whole are less vulnerable to pests and diseases than other groups of plants. This is perhaps due to the strong aromatic oils that most contain; these have anti-bacterial and insect-repelling properties. Therefore strongly scented herbs such as thyme, lavender and rosemary are seldom troubled by pests.

However, from time to time pest and disease problems do arise and the most commonly encountered are:

Pests: caterpillars, slugs and snails, aphids such as greenfly and blackfly

Diseases: rust, mildew

The best way to prevent the occurrence of any of these is to prevent their build up in the first place. Keep soils in good condition, by adding compost or organic mulches, and by weeding and watering. Where possible remove any pests by hand!

The use of insecticides and pesticides should always be avoided as these are environmentally damaging to soils and watercourses and can upset the delicate balance of species in certain habitats. Furthermore, as herbs are usually grown to be used as ingredients for food, and health and beauty products, it makes sense to eliminate the use of chemical sprays and toxic substances.

Other ideas:

Although for the purpose of this pack various types of herb have been especially selected for use, in future, when choosing your own herbs to grow , you can be more adventurous and selective in your choice.

Here are some things to consider when choosing which herbs to grow:

I. How much room do you have? Always consider this as some herbs are very vigorous and can quickly take over an area or bed.

2. Also consider what you want the herbs for and which ones you think you will use the most. If they are grown solely for culinary purposes a selection including mint, dill, sage, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme and chives is a good one. Other herbs such as marigolds and nasturtiums, may be grown solely for their flowers, or perhaps even their scent, while others may be grown for homeopathic purposes.

You may also want to group herbs according to their different colours. The following herbs have similar shades:

YELLOW: tansy, feverfew, chamomile, yarrow PINK: chives, some mints, lavender, rosemary RED: borage

ORANGE; nasturtium, marigold.

WHITE: woodruff, garlic, chives, lavender, some mints

Did you know? Rosemary is believed to grow well in the garden of a happy household.

Herbs 101

Herbs 101

Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?

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