An Herb Garden Close At Hand

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An Herb Garden Close At HandIf you love to cook, planting your own herb garden is something you should look into. It has several advantages over buying herbs at the store. You have them close at hand, so that when you start cooking, you can snip off the herbs you will use for a meal. Your herbs will be fresher and they will be far less costly. Here are some tips on growing your own herb garden.

If you cook a lot of Italian or Mexican or Chinese food, you know which herbs you use. There may be some spices and exotic herbs that you will not be able to grow at home. But, there are far more that you can easily plant from seed and grow yourself. You may not have room to grow everything you would like. So make a list of those you use the most. Include the herbs that benefit most from being freshly picked.

Buy good quality seeds. If you live in a cold climate, see if you can devise a way to start your seeds early. You can construct a cold frame outdoors. If you have a sunny, south-facing window, you can plant seeds in small pots indoors in early spring, so they will be ready to transplant outside in late May. Use the plastic seed packs you bought plants from the nursery in. Or use empty plastic egg cartons. Place them in a tray that is waterproof. Put fine soil in them, plant the seeds in the moist soil, cover with plastic wrap, and you will soon have little herb seedlings sprouting.

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If you have a porch or deck with a wide railing, this is a perfect place to put your pots of herbs. If it is right outside your kitchen, that is even better. Transplant your seedlings into the pots, and put a marker in each with the herb’s name. Arrange the pots so the herbs needing the most sun get it, and the part sun/part shade herbs get what they need. Also, do not water them all the same. Some herbs like dryer soil, some moist soil. Mark the pots with a D or an M so you won’t forget.

If you have a vegetable garden, you can also plant your herb seedlings there. Use companion planting to select the locations. Basil loves to be near tomato plants, so surround your tomato plants with some basil seedlings, and they will both grow better.

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Even if you are just doing container gardening, you need to remove weeds that may spring up in the pots. Do this once a week and it will not get out of hand. Use some fertilizer periodically to increase growth. You can buy a natural fertilizer. You can also make your own by soaking weeds in a pail of water for a week, to make a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer.

When you sprinkle tiny seeds into your nursery pot, you are bound to get more seedlings than the pot has room for as they grow. Divide the seedlings when they get to be an inch or two high. Plant them in a larger pot with room to grow.

With herbs, you can begin to harvest in June and keep harvesting well into the fall. Just pick the ones you plan to use that day. Pinch the sprigs off with your fingers, or use kitchen scissors for herbs with woodier stems. Rinse them off in a pot of water in the kitchen sink. Then, they are ready to use.

In the fall, when it gets too cold to leave the pots of herbs outside, harvest them and tie them in a bunch with string. Hang them up somewhere indoors to dry. When dry, you can remove the leaves from the stems, place them in a jar, and use them all winter.

If you have a window that stays sunny all winter, place a few pots of your hardier herbs, such as rosemary, in the window and keep them going until spring.

As you can see, growing your own herbs can be easy and rewarding.

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