The Perfect Herb Garden
There is nothing more satisfying than wandering around your garden picking fresh herbs to jazz up a home cooked meal.
Plus – herbs look pretty & smell fantastic!
The great thing about growing herbs is you really don’t need much space. All you need is a spot with 6 hours or more of sunshine & you are good to go!
Annual herbs need to be replanted each year because they die off in the cold weather. Some of the most popular annual herbs are: Basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, chamomile, chervil & sweet marjoram.
Perennial herbs like mint, thyme, sage, tarragon, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary & sorrel come back each year of their own accord.
Starting with seeds is the most economical option but staring with plants is so much easier & will save you weeks of waiting.
Let’s start with some of the most commonly used herbs:
Parsley is biennial, which means that it grows for two seasons and then dies and needs to be replaced. You can find curly and Italian types. It’s great in soups, as a garnish & if you chew on it after a meal it will freshen your breath.
Sage – perennial – looks great in a rock garden because of the interesting colour & texture of its leaves. It’s wonderful with pork and lamb.
Rosemary – perennial – is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind. This herb loves sunshine and dislikes having wet feet. Delicious with garlic on lamb roast.
Thyme – perennial – is a fabulous groundcover to plant between pavers or to crawl over rocks in the garden. Lemon scented thyme releases a beautiful citrus aroma when walked on.
Basil – annual – very popular herb, found in most herb gardens. Perfect companion plant for tomatoes, it will deter pests & your tomatoes will adopt a richer, herby flavour. Use to make your own deliciously fresh pesto & sauces. Basil hates cold damp weather and will die.
Chives – perennial – great with eggs, salads & tuna. Chives produce lovely purple flowers that not only look great but will bring a host of good bugs to your garden.
Dill – annual – great in egg dishes, on grilled or fresh salmon & baked fish. Dill is feathery & easy to grow but does not cope with too much hot weather.
Oregano – perennial – is another great groundcover, especially in the base of pot plants. Oregano is used in sauces (especially tomato based, Italian style) and on chicken. It grows in a nice clump & comes back year after year.
Mint – perennial – do yourself a favour and grow this in a container – even in the garden – as it LOVES to spread and will take over. Mint has a gorgeous aroma and is great with chocolate, as a garnish for sweets & as a refreshing flavour burst added to a jug of icy cold water. Also great made into a sauce for lamb. Loves a moist, semi shaded position.
Yarrow attracts wildlife, added to compost it’s leaves speed up decomposition & its cut flowers dry beautifully for display.
Step By Step Planting Instructions.
- 1. Choose a sunny spot close to the kitchen if possible, for convenience.
- 2. Mix some Organic Xtra through the soil.
- 3. Plant when the sun is low and the weather cool.
- 4. Dig a hole about 1.5 times as wide as the plant.
- 5. Gently squeeze the sides or the container to loosen the soil.
Carefully remove the herb from the container.
- 6. Plant the herbs 45cm apart, (30cm if in a container to save room)
Do not plant any deeper than it was in the original pot.
- 7. Place taller herbs, like sage, rosemary and marjoram, towards the back of the garden or pot.
Parsley and cilantro are good for the front.
8. Water your newly planted herbs with a liquid fertilizer at ½ the recommended strength.
Once established, make sure your herbs get an inch of water each week throughout the growing . season
9. You can harvest your herbs as they grow, but take only small amounts so that you leave most of the plant in tact.
10. Pinch back the tops of the herbs regularly to keep your plants compact and bushy.
BUILD A HERB SPIRAL
Herb Spirals are great for a number of reasons.
They take up less space because they expand upwards, not outwards.
This also creates different micro-climates, from shady, moist areas to warmer, drier areas.
In wet areas, herb spirals create well drained spaces, especially at the top.
In dry areas, the plants at the bottom of the spiral thrive on the extra moisture.
You will need: soil, rocks, seedlings, mulch & water.
Start with a mound of soil the size you want the spiral to eventually be. Make sure the richest soil is on the outside. Reinforce the inside with any old rubble you want to get rid of. Mix Organic Xtra through your good soil & put a generous amount of this rich, fertile soil over the top of the rubble. The rubble will also improve drainage.
Place the largest rocks around the bottom of the mound and spiral them up to the top as the rocks get smaller. Make sure you leave plenty of soil uncovered for planting.
Try to make sure all parts of the spiral are easily accessible.
Mulch, plant & water thoroughly.
Plant herbs that prefer moist conditions near the bottom, facing the softer morning sun:
Bergamot, Borage, Coriander, Cress, French tarragon, Ginger, Lemon balm, Mint (in a pot), Mushroom plant, Parsley, Rocket, Vietnamese mint (in a pot), Watercress.
Plant herbs that prefer drier conditions near the top, facing the summer sun:
Garlic chives, Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Yarrow, Society garlic, Thyme.