Herb gardens are popular with many home gardeners because they can be grown with little space and yield crops that can be used in many favorite recipes. Many chefs prefer the taste of fresh herbs over dried products you purchase at the store. Some popular herbs to grow in your garden include basil, rosemary, chives, mint, cilantro, sage, and dill. These herbs require many of the same growing conditions, and can be grown in the same area.
The Kemper Center for Home Gardening provides the following tips on growing an herb garden.
While most herbs require a lot of sun, in Missouri summers, they do best with some afternoon shade. Look for an area that gets 6-8 hours of sunshine, but does get a little break from the heat in the afternoon. Mint plants can tolerate more shade than other herbs.
Most herbs do best with even moisture. Soil should not be sopping wet, but shouldn’t be dry either. How often they need watered depends on where they are located (in a bed or in a container), how quickly the soil dries out after watering, and of course the weather. Having well-draining soil really helps to achieve the best level of moisture.
All herbs do best in well-draining soil. Herbs generally don’t require much fertilizer, but adding peat moss or compost will improve the soil quality and improve drainage. Three herbs, basil, parsley, and dill, will benefit from supplemental fertilizer.
Where to Grow
Growing herbs in containers can help you maintain both of the above cultural requirements When grown in containers, most herbs will benefit from an occasional feeding with a liquid fertilizer. Raised beds can also be a great place to grow herbs.
If you choose to go with a raised bed or in-ground garden and are looking to add variety, or a pop of color, considering mixing in flowers or vegetables. Herbs can be planted alongside pretty much any vegetables or sun-loving flowers.
Herbs generally aren’t susceptible to many pest problems. If you have a minor infestation on your herbs, you can handpick insects from your plants. Other pest-control methods include using a forceful spray of water to remove pests, or pruning and infested area.
Most leafy herbs have the highest concentration of aromatic oils when they are just about to bloom. Mints are an exception; they have the most flavor when in full bloom. It’s best to harvest leafy herbs in the morning before the hot sun has broken down some of their flavor compounds.
Some herbs, like cilantro, prefer cooler growing conditions. When temperatures get too hot they will go to seed and not produce any more leaves. Allow the plant to go to seed and harvest the seeds to use for a fall crop. The seeds can also be harvested and used in cooking.
Growing Herbs Indoors
Herbs grown in containers can be moved inside for the winter, but indoor herb gardens can be challenging. Indoor herbs will require grow lights because there isn’t enough natural light in the winter for them to survive without supplemental lighting. Even with grow lights they are more likely to have pest and disease problems in the winter.
You can find more information on growing herbs, including tips about specific herbs, on the Kemper Center’s website.
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