Planning Your Herb Garden

Herbs are virtually care free when you compare them to other plants in your garden. Consider roses, even orchids, for example, how many hours have you spent, composting, pruning, and fighting off garden pests to get them to thrive? On the flip side herbs do not require fertilizer, do well in poor soil and require minimal watering. Basically, just ensure that they are getting enough sun and a bit of water and they should grow well.

That is not to say that you can toss some seeds and the ground and walk away, good planning is a must and then you can plant.

Herbs will do well even in poor soil, they can even get in a state of being overgrown. Lavender and Yarrow are some examples of herbs that can take over if you let them. Another herb that has been known to get packed tightly together and get bushy is the chive plant. So keep this in mind, and allow for enough space in your garden for the number of plants you want to grow.

Most herbs are just fine if they are given about a foot or so of space between the main sections of the garden.

Chives grow well in a bunch but the roots need a certain amount of water and nutrients to thrive. All plants are competing for those elements as well, so plan ahead for their needs.

If you plant too many herbs or even other plants within a section it will make it difficult for the plant to get the sunlight that it needs to grow. So give them some breathing or growing room. As they mature it may be necessary to thin them out to avoid overgrowth.

Even though herbs are not that particular about their soil, it doesn't mean that you can ignore soil preparation. The best soil environment for them is a mix of clay, sandy soil or loam and compost. This is a good foundation for almost any herb to grow in. Another important aspect to the soil is to be sure that there is good drainage. Most herbs originate from the Mediterranean, so rocky, dry but adequately drained soil is fine for them. This is not to say that you should have your herbs go bone dry, but remember 'some water' does not mean drenched.

Herbs like Sage and Lavender many times can thrive with just a little help from nature. You may be able to get away with an occasional rainfall and not have to intervene with the trusty watering can. This is not the same with peppermint, it does require more watering and prefers the soil to be moist rather than dry. They respond well in an area where a drip system is installed.

You can cut down on weeds by laying down some landscape fabric. No one likes to deal with weeds, and using landscape fabric now can cut down on weeding or spraying later. Besides, pesticides can kill the herbs along with the weeds because biologically it is hard for the 'spray' to tell them apart. And let's not forget you probably will be ingesting these herbs later, so, who wants to eat pesticide laced cuisine?

Herbs are resilient and can hold their own against insects. But, there are methods that many gardeners use to help ensure the best harvest. One such method is called 'trap crop' and it is done so that some herbs are sacrificed so that others can thrive. Dill is a good example of this. Dill is purposely planted to deter pests from the tomato plants. What will happen is that the Dill will be attacked by the pest, but they will stay away from your tomatoes. However, it you want to grow Dill, you might want to use a little pesticide, and I stress 'a little' to take care of the problem.

Once you know what kind of herbs you want to plant then you will want to plan not only where to plant them but when. Different herbs take to cooler temperatures so they don't mind getting started in early Spring, while others prefer the heat and mid-summer is better for them. Then again, others, it simply doesn't matter, just about anytime will do. A good suggestion is to plant the herbs in four week intervals, depending on the herb as soon as the threat of frost is over.

A little bit of planning can go a long way when it comes to herb gardening. Take the time to do it and your herbs will be growing with minimal effort.

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