Growing position and soil:
Most herbs do best in a sunny position in well-draining soil containing plenty of compost and sand. Mint and parsley can take a slightly shaded position, heavier soil and more water. A layer of organic mulch (compost, leaf mould or well-rotted manure) keeps soil temperature even, evaporation minimal and slowly replenishes nutrients.
Weather you choose a formal herb garden , a loose arrangement of herbs in a mixed bed, a chequerboard paved area or just a few pots and hanging baskets, depends on your space and the purpose your herbs are to serve. Bear in mind the growing habits of the plants- tall to the back, low- growing as front edging, creeping as groundcover etc. isolate the invasive mints and tarragon to keep them under control.
Watering and feeding
Most herbs are hardy and tolerant of dry conditions so water only as the soil begins to dry out, never allowing it to remain soggy. Use dilute solutuions of organic fertilizers regularly rather than infrequent heavy chemical applications.
Herbs in containers should be planted in good Herb Potting soil and fed and watered more frequently than those planted out. Mixed plantings in troughs, hanging baskets or pots can be most effective and space saving. Make sure that the plants are compatible ( mint and parsley do not mix, neither do sage and basil) wont compete for root space and enjoy similar conditions. Containers should be deep and have plenty of drainage material at the bottom. Plant thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage at the outer edge or where they can enjoy drier conditions. Theres nothing better than to have herbs readily available near the kitchen.
Most herbs can be grown from seed or bought as healthy young plants. Annuals need to be replaced each year, while perennials can be cut back and rejuvenated with compost & fertilizer at the end of winter and can be divided, layered or grown from slip.
Using fresh growth is usually best but if you are drying your herbs it is best done when the plant is at the peak point of it growth cycle when the volatile oils are most concentrated. This is in the morning after dew has dried. Hang small bunches in shade, dry quickly and bottle when completely dry. Store in a dark place.
TIME- SAVING TIPS
Micro-wave drying spread herbs on paper towel and give 30 sec bursts on high. Remove herbs as they dry to eliminate possibility of fire.
Freezing- chop fresh herbs, put a tablespoon full in ice cube compartments & fill with water. Freeze, remove and store in labeled containers or bags. Frozen herbs retain color and fragrance.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Most herbs are trouble-free but be vigilant and treat any problems with organic insecticides or fungicides.
- Herb potting soil
- - Organic fertilizers eg. Bionamix, Talborne products, Wonder Organic, Nitrosol.
- Organic insecticides eg. Biogrow, Margaret Robert, Agrivo, Efekto Natural
Courtesy of lifestyle