Food just doesn’t taste the same without a little seasoning to gives it that “Iron Chef” touch. Any cook knows the best ingredients are fresh, so instead of reaching for that old spice rack create your own herb garden. Follow these easy steps to a fresher yummier meal.
Growing a garden may seem as a no-brainer, but it actually takes a lot of time, nurturing patience, and effort. First, start by planning out and deciding on the size and location of your garden. Do you want to have an outdoor garden, on your window sill or in one large pot? Whatever you decide just keep in mind the fundamentals water, soil, and sun- the most critical factors involved. Look for an area where your plants will get at least six hours of light each day. Herbs react better to areas that receive indirect sunlight with neutral to alkaline soil. All herbs will appreciate soil that drains well, but make sure to water them regularly and add natural fertilizer.
All soil is not created equal. Good soil is composed of 50 percent solid and 50 percent porous space. This space is supposed to provide enough room for water and air to travel. The soil should be a mixture of three things: clay, silt, and sand. With that said, the ideal garden soil would be 20 percent clay, 40 percent silt, and 40 percent sand.
Next test the soils nutrient levels which will indicate the pH (acid-alkaline balance) as well as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content; no this is not a science project!
Expect to have a few unwelcomed pest on your herbs, but make sure to eliminate them all. Some bugs actually benefit the soil so take care of each case individually. The best practice is to remove the bugs by hand first and then if necessary use an eco-friendly repellent. Remember nothing with strong chemicals since the herbs will be used for cooking. Most herbs do best in soil with a 5.5 and 7.5 pH balance, from a scale of 1-14, 7 representing neutral. The pH will either allow your herbs to receive the essential nutrients it needs from the soil or not.
If you decide on an outdoor herb garden, begin by amending the bed with organic matter like compost or a rich soil mix. Unlike container gardens the outdoor herbs will be more susceptible to bugs and the weather. If your herb garden will remain in pots use a high-quality potting soil which allows for better drainage and use pots that have holes. Then dig a hole an inch deep into the center of the soil and fill it with herb seed. Afterwards cover the seed with soil and water it until the soil is thoroughly moist. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. Place the pot in an area that will receive adequate sun. Once the plant begins to sprout remove the plastic and continue to monitor growth while watering when necessary.
If you decide to use herbs already developed (usually best with mint, rosemary, and tarragon) then simply prepare your soil and distribute nutrients in the soil by fertilizing and tiling the ground. Dig a hole twice as big as the root ball and place the herb in, fill in the remaining space with soil and generously water the herbs. Continue to monitor growth and water on regular basis.
If you’re a beginner start off small and as time progresses add on, but every herb garden should have the basics essentials: Basil, chives, dill, marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsley, and rosemary. With most herbs it’s best not to expose them to extreme weather or temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To encourage your herbs growth and bushiness pinch it back as frequently as possible. This will help the herb extend their cycle and focus its energy into foliage production rather than making seeds.
With some attention to detail and patience you could have an herb garden in no time.