Herb Gardening, You Can Try It!
One of the best ways to get excited about creating fresh, affordable menus for your family is to create and maintain your own herb garden. Do not be afraid, the task is not as daunting as it may seem. Wide varieties of herbs can be grown either indoors or out of doors, with very little effort on your part. If you follow a few simple guidelines, your herb garden should begin yielding a usable crop in just a few weeks.
The Right Location
If your home includes a large backyard, you may wish to cordon off a section of it for herb garden planting. If not, you should consider either a hanging window box or an indoor windowsill or counter top as your primary growing location. Herbs need plenty of sunlight every day, approximately 6 to 7 hours of it. If you live in a foggy city, you will need to get creative with where you plant your herb garden. However – even in cities that tend be overcast – it should not be difficult to locate the areas of your home that get the best sun exposure on a daily basis. If you cannot find a spot that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, do not despair. Just be ready to pay a bit of extra attention to your herbs in order to give them a ‘boost’ if they begin to droop, via plant food supplements that are readily available in most hardware or general stores.
The Right Soil
The quality of your herbs will only be as good as the soil in which they grow. To this end, you will need to invest in fertile soil that drains well. If your yard soil is not rich, consider building garden boxes in which to plant your herb garden. If you are growing indoors or via a window box, you should fill the growing vessels with nutrient rich soil and place pebbles and rocks on their bottoms, so that the water has some place to go where it is not flooding your plant roots.
The Right Planting Technique
You have two basic options when creating an herb garden: planting seeds or planting herbs purchased from a nursery. In either case, care must be taken to ensure that your plants ‘feel comfortable’ in their new home. If you fail to plant your herbs correctly, they may refuse to grow or wither quickly and possibly die.
For nursery plantings, be aware that many herbs get ‘root bound’ in their small nursery pots. Therefore, when transferring them to larger growing pots you will need to loosen the roots gently, without tearing them. Make sure you know exactly where each plant is going prior to replanting, so that you do not need to replant more than once, which would add undue trauma for your plants. You may wish to soak your nursery plants in a B vitamin supplement right before planting, as this can help to reduce shock and ease your plants comfortably into their new environment.
Seed plantings are more cost effective than nursery plantings, though they require a bit more work to encourage healthy growth. While you can plant multiple herb varieties in a single planter box or garden patch, this is not advisable. Cross-contamination and tangling shoots occur easily in herb gardens and should you choose to plant all of your herbs together, make sure that you leave a minimum of 6 to 8 inches on either side of your species plantings in order to ensure that they have plenty of room to grow without entanglement with other varieties. Follow the instructions on the back of your seed packets to the‘t’, as each seed variety has specific requirements for healthy growing. Seed growth requires abundant sunlight. If your natural environment cannot provide it, consider installing fluorescent lights to supplement your natural light source.
Feed your seedlings or nursery plants once a week in order to ensure that they are receiving all the nutrients they need. Organic fertilizer is a terrific option, though you should dilute it in order to avoid overwhelming your infant herbs.