Topic: Landscaping

Date Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Posted by: Judy Walker (Master Admin)

How to create a Herb Garden in your Backyard

Don't have enough space to develop a formal herb garden? Don't worry. You can grow most herbs in small and medium-sized pots and fit them here and there. Perhaps the best thing about growing herbs is that you don't require much space.

The most common herbs grown in backyard herb gardens are culinary herbs. They are mainly used for seasoning and cooking. In fact, you can even incorporate them into your existing vegetable bed. Or you can grow them separately somewhere close to your kitchen door. You can also grow them in pots placed on your kitchen counter.

Growing herbs is not much different from growing vegetables. However, you have to keep a few things in mind. Herbs must be harvested at full flavor. Don't use any pesticide or fertilizer that is not suitable for edible plants and fruits. Here are some more useful tips for developing a flavorful herb garden.

Planting and growing herbal plants

Annual herbs are quite inexpensive and low maintenance. They can be grown from seeds. Woody, perennial herbs tend to grow better when you plant seedlings or cuttings. You will be able to buy them from your local nursery.

Herbs need to be planted in fertile, well-draining soil. Most herbs don't require fertilizers. So if you feel that the soil is rich enough, avoid the temptation to heavy feed with fertilizers. In fact, herbs grown in lean conditions tend to have more flavor and scent. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to grow them in very poor soil. If the plants do not get enough nutrition, their growth will be stunted.

If you really must spray pesticides choose the least toxic solution. As far as possible, avoid pesticides altogether.

Design considerations for your herb garden

Keep your herbs handy. If you keep them within easy reach, you are more likely to use them often. What's more, their scent and beauty may also inspire you to cook in more creative ways.

Most edible herbs can also act as good ornamental plants. Parsley, for example, makes a great edging plant. Of course, you will have to protect them from rabbits.

Tall herbs can be potted. Bay laurel, for instance, can be used as a good focal point. Herbs with multi-colored leaves will look great in mixed containers.

Herbs like oregano and mint tend to spread. They, too, can be planted in medium-sized containers.  You can either bury the containers under the soil or you can use them as accent pots. Don't allow the tips of the herbs to hang over. If they touch ground, they will take root and grow.

Some tips for using edible herbs

Annuals herb plants taste their best when you harvest them before they start flowering. Once the herbs begin to flower, they will start shedding their older leaves. Newer leaves are usually bitter and smaller.

Pinch often

You can encourage your herbs to branch out by pinching them. Some herbal plants like basil can be pinched when they are just 3 or 4 inches tall. If your herbs start flowering early, you can shear the whole plants by one-third and start pinching them more often.

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