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Growing Guide: Herbs

Herbs are a fragrant and tasty addition to any garden.

Preparation

  • Before planting anything, be sure to choose a space that has six or more hours of sunlight a day.
  • Most herbs prefer a soil that is loose and well drained. Break up any soil that has become compacted and get rid of large clumps.
  • Use an inch or so of compost on the top of the soil to help with drainage. If you don’t have compost, use peat moss and coarse sand as a substitute.
  • Herbs are plants grown for fragrance, medicine, and cooking! Depending on your uses choose herbs that are most fitting for your needs. The most common herbs to grow include: basil, chives, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, sage, and thyme.

Growing an herb garden

  • Herbs typically need 2 inches of water every week.
  • If you want to keep herbs separate, consider a container herb garden
    • Containers can go on a patio,  steps, or even a classroom windowsill.
    • Containers should be large enough for the herb’s root system and have holes that can properly drain water.
    • Potting soil is recommended for containers because it is light, less likely to clump, and has plenty of organic matter.

Harvesting

  • Don’t be afraid to harvest herbs! Regular picks actually encourage new foliage to grow.
  • You can begin harvesting from plants a soon as they appear to be healthy and mature.
  • Choose tools that will make sharp cuts to avoid mangled edges. Be sure wipe the blades off each time, with rubbing alcohol, to avoid potential diseases.
  • Only cut off about ⅓ of the branches when the plant reaches maturity — plants will regrow very quickly.
  • Harvesting herbs after it has bloomed typically has less flavor so try to enjoy the plants during their peak.

Uses

  • Preserve herbs for cooking by laying the stalks in a single layer on a towel and allow them to air-dry for 6-8 days. Once the leaves are dry store them away from light. Fluff the stalks each day during the drying period.
  • Herbs can be enjoyed all year round by drying or freezing their plant parts.
  • Simply use herbs for their beauty and fragrance in the garden.
  • Herbs such as garlic, have proven to be a natural resistance to insects and pests.