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Herbs are easy to grow, indoors and out, winter and summer, for decoration, aroma or for cooking. The biggest problem you may face in growing herbs is deciding what you want to grow.
As a gardener, you need to know that herbs are either annual, biennial or perennial. Annuals bloom one season and then die. Biennials live for two seasons, and bloom the second season only. Once established, perennials bloom each season.
Annuals include anise, basil, chervil, coriander, and dill; parsley and caraway are biennials; perennials include chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, tarragon, and thyme.
Herbs for Cooking
If you’re interested in culinary herbs, but not sure what you might want to grow, survey your spice rack, open your favorite recipe book or visit your local supermarket as a guide to the various herbs used as food seasonings. Chives, thyme, savory, marjoram, mint, basil, sage and parsley are among the most popular.
Herbs for Aroma
Aromatic herbs have pleasant smelling flowers and foliage. When dried, many of these herbs retain their aroma and can be used as sachet and potpourri. Popular aromatic herbs are mint, marjoram, lovage, rosemary, and basil.
Herbs for Display
For decoration, some herbs display brightly colored flowers and foliage. Some ornamentals like mint, lavender, chives and thyme have variegated foliage while others, such as Roman chamomile, ornamental oregano, flowering fennel and blooming chives, may blossom.
Herbs for Health
Medicinal herbs should only be grown and used with extreme care. Some herbs are harmless, but others can be dangerous if consumed. The medical community acknowledges that there are some herbs that may offer healing properties, while others are highly overrated.
Tips for Herb Gardening
Include herbs as part of your vegetable garden, or plant herbs in containers such as coco planters, hanging baskets and flower boxes. Whether in a garden or container, keep perennials and annuals separated.
Drainage is probably the most important single factor in successful herb growing when selecting a site. Herbs will not grow in wet soil so be sure drainage is sufficient and don’t overwater. Coco planters are an excellent choice since they provide good drainage.
Most herbs can be grown from seed. Seeds should be sown in shallow boxes in late winter.
These methods will require more care, especially watering. Transplant seedlings to the outdoors in spring. Some herbs, such as anise, coriander, dill, and fennel should only be planted directly in the garden. They don’t transplant particularly well. Also many biennials should be sown in late spring directly into the ground.
Don’t cover the seeds too deeply in the soil. Sow the seeds in very shallow rows and firm the soil over them. Sow fine seeds, such as marjoram, savory, or thyme, by as little as one-eighth of an inch of soil. The smaller the seed the more shallow. Keep the soil moist, but not soaked, during germination. A fine spray will prevent washing away of the soil.
Fresh leaves may be picked as soon as the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. Pick leaves and seeds after the morning dew has disappeared, but before the sun rises and becomes too hot.
Indoor Herb Gardening
You can also grow herbs year round. It is no more difficult to grow herbs indoors than it is to grow them in your garden.
Indoor herbs need essentially the same conditions as herbs grown outdoors, namely sunlight and a well-drained soil mix that is not too rich.
Annual herbs can spend their full life cycle in a pot indoors. Perennial herbs, however, will do better out of doors over the summer.
Growing herbs may be the most versatile form of gardening. You can grow herbs for their scent, for their taste or for their beauty. Grow them inside your home or in a garden, in all seasons and all year around.
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