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Beginners Guide to Herb Gardening

Even beginners can grow fantastic herbs which are remarkably easy to deal with. Provide them with a little sunshine, well draining soil and a dash of compost or fertilizer and you can have a healthy herb gardening ready right outside your door. You can even grow herbs without a garden – many of them will grow happily in a pot although the majority of them do prefer to be in the ground if you have the space.

Some herbs can grow quite large (around 6 feet) and can become stressed and stunted in a pot – you really don’t want unhappy herbs do you?

The big secret to successful herb gardening is location, location, location. I don’t mean that you have to live in the best part of town you just have to put the herbs in the right spot in the garden. The majority of herbs are happiest in full sun but only if your summer temperatures won’t regularly go higher than 90 degrees – if you live somewhere very hot your herbs may prefer a little early morning and evening shade. You could even plant your herbs somewhere they will get dappled light through the leaves of a tree.

You also need to give your herb plants plenty of space – as a rule of thumb you’ll need somewhere between one foot and 4 feet for each herb plant.

• Rosemary, Mint, Sage, Oregano and Marjoram need around three to four feet each.

• Basil, Tarragon, Basil and Savory need a couple of feet for each plant.

• Chives, Cilantro, Parsley and Dill need only one foot each.

Soil Preparation for Herb Gardening

Good soil preparation is essential for growing healthy herbs. Dig over the soil with a garden fork if the soil has become compacted which allows the water to drain through as well as creating space for the roots to reach down deep into the soil. If you don’t do this properly your plants may not survive – you have been warned. Next add around one inch of compost and mix it thoroughly with the loosened soil to add a little fertilizer and prevent you from having any drainage problems.

You are almost ready to plant your herbs. Make sure that you buy the strongest, healthiest herb plants you can find and don’t allow the soil to dry out. The majority of herbs need to be watered as soon as they become dry but be careful not to overwater your herb plants, this can be just as bad as not watering them enough.

Harvesting your Herbs

If you snip off around one third of the branches when the plant grows to around six or eight inches close to the intersection of the leaf you will encourage faster re-growth. Some plants grow new leaves out from their center (Parsley does this) in which case it may be necessary to remove old, dead branches to allow new growth from the plant center.

Herb gardening really is very easy and extremely rewarding – from the garden to the kitchen in just a couple of snips for a beautiful garden and delicious food.

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