Growing Herbs In Your Garden (Ed Crain)


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Posted with permission from Ed Crain:

Herbs are one of the top gardening options. They don't take

a lot of skill to grow and they are the most useful of all

plant groups. For cookery, aromatics, medicine and

decoration, herbs come in useful. From a gardener's

perspective bugs and plant diseases seem to avoid herbs, so

they are close to the perfect choice for the household

garden.

Herbs used for medicinal purposes include garlic, which

can improve cholesterol levels, Echinacea for cold and flu

prevention, and chamomile for stress relief. Many herbs

are used in cooking, the most popular of which include

oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill, and ginger. Both lavender

and mint are popularly used for their fragrances and most

herbs make aesthetically pleasing additions to any garden.

There is a vast array of herbs for the garden, and each

will have it's own needs to learn about. Overall however

your herbs will benefit from good draining soil and

shouldn't receive much fertilizer. To get that all

important drainage in your soil you could incorporate some

rock pieces. If you over fertilize your herbs will be less

flavorsome.

Keeping herbs pruned helps keep them healthy. You should

take out the new buds when you see them. (Unless of course

you regularly use them in your cookery in which case you'll

be doing all the pruning you need.) Herbs are best gathered

before the sun's heat is really felt but after the dampness

of first light. If you pick between these two points you'll

enjoy your herbs all the more because the flavorful oils

are at their best.

With the onset of winter some herbs need to be harvested or

brought under cover. If you choose to harvest then there

are plenty of ways to keep the herbs for a long time. To

begin with always wash and carefully dry the cut herb.

Drying herbs is an old and still popular choice for keeping

picked herbs. The traditional country method is to bunch

the herbs and hang them from the roof beams in a cool,

damp-free, unlit space. If you want a more modern method

then herbs sandwiched between a pair of paper kitchen

napkins can dry out in the microwave. Give them a one

minute blast and then shorter zaps of twenty seconds a time

until you fee they've dried out. They should be a bit

crispy. When it comes to using dried in the place of fresh

in your recipes use about half the amount of dried as

compared to fresh. The most simple thing to do is just to

lay the herb leaves on a tray until the moisture has dried

from them.

Freezing herbs is also a popular method of preservation.

Using a food processor or blender, add a little bit of

water to the herbs, blend, and place the mixture into ice

cube trays. You can then use your herbs, as you need them

by adding the cubes directly to dishes. Another

alternative to the ice cube trays is to put the dried

leaves directly into a freezer bag. Frozen herbs have the

best flavor if used within a few months.

A herbologist is the professional who is best placed to

help you out with selecting a mixture of herbs. Any

herbologist will be able to select the plants you want to

achieve the blend of taste and smell that you have in mind.

Thank you, Ed!

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Evidently they take more skill than I have because I killed my parsely plant within 1 week of owning it. :bones:

Same for me, but with a mint plant

They seem to die quicker when I pay attention to them. :bag:

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first time growing them I was not very good, but have gotten better with a little reading, now I have many herbs, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes growing in pots around here, key is good draining but lots of water when it is hot and a mixture of shade for indirect sunlight and a small amount of direct sunlight, these 100+ degree times i mist them a few times a day to keep them from frying. but most days I just water them in the early evening when shade hits them, cools them down and they get to soak in water all night. Love having fresh stuff need to plant a garden proper

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I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I cannot imagine why anyone would have a problem growing herbs. They're hardy and drought resistant.... basically they're just cultivated weeds. (You must have OVER-tended them, too much water or fertilizer or....)

As for watering plants in the evening or applying a mist on them during the heat of the day.... Unless you're using a drip hose, where the water is applied directly to the soil and never touches the foliage, I wouldn't do it. Any water left on the leaves over night can lead to leaf mold. (Nights being warmer in Fla, Crzy, the water may evaporate over night, but up here where I live, it's not a good practice.) I never water in the evening or the heat of the day. I water my garden for 30-45 minutes (every other morning) before direct sunlight strikes the plants. As for "misting" a plant during the day.... Indoor plants- sure! Outdoor plants- maybe, maybe not... if it's not in direct sunlight it may not do any harm, but just one bead of water on the foliage of a plant in direct sunlight acts like a magnifying glass and will cause severe burns and can kill the plant.

Edited by Songster
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I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I cannot imagine why anyone would have a problem growing herbs. They're hardy and drought resistant.... basically they're just cultivated weeds. (You must have OVER-tended them, too much water or fertilizer or....)

As for watering plants in the evening or applying a mist on them during the heat of the day.... Unless you're using a drip hose, where the water is applied directly to the soil and never touches the foliage, I wouldn't do it. Any water left on the leaves over night can lead to leaf mold. (Nights being warmer in Fla, Crzy, the water may evaporate over night, but up here where I live, it's not a good practice.) I never water in the evening or the heat of the day. I water my garden for 30-45 minutes (every other morning) before direct sunlight strikes the plants. As for "misting" a plant during the day.... Indoor plants- sure! Outdoor plants- maybe, maybe not... if it's not in direct sunlight it may not do any harm, but just one bead of water on the foliage of a plant in direct sunlight acts like a magnifying glass and will cause severe burns and can kill the plant.

lol. I am definitely NOT a green witch. But I am doing better. I got seeds and they are sprouting alright. So far so good. Though we did have one mishap with it falling out of the window sill. Doesn't seem to have hurt it though.

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I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but I cannot imagine why anyone would have a problem growing herbs.

No offense taken here! I think I have whatever the opposite of a "green thumb" is. :shy:

My mint plant came in the original packaging, which was a plastic pot. It was vibrant and thriving when I purchased it. I sat it on the table in the kitchen, by the window. It started to die within the week, despite watering it and making sure it had enough sunlight. I have no doubt that it was my error, as I imagine it always is. I am just uncertain as to what I always seem to do wrong

I am hoping that making a garden will end my reign of terror on plants.

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No offense taken here! I think I have whatever the opposite of a "green thumb" is. :shy:

My mint plant came in the original packaging, which was a plastic pot. It was vibrant and thriving when I purchased it. I sat it on the table in the kitchen, by the window. It started to die within the week, despite watering it and making sure it had enough sunlight. I have no doubt that it was my error, as I imagine it always is. I am just uncertain as to what I always seem to do wrong

I am hoping that making a garden will end my reign of terror on plants.

I think mint really wants to grow outside ..oh, and it wants to take up every available bit of growing space out there too :) learned the hard way ..

if you want to have it indoors, it can grow really well for you with the right, light, soil and watering, at least for a few months

indoor plants can be really touchy about EVERYTHING but once you get rolling, it gets easier; if you want to try again, here's what I do

transplant the mint to a clay pot (with a saucer-important!) two to three inches larger than the original container - buy tiny, mint loves to spread.. if you really like the size and don't want it to get much bigger still repot to loosen the roots and give the soil a tossing, clay is just better for absorption for most indoor plants- it holds water differently

small stones or aquarium gravel at the bottom, about an inch and a half, to water while it is getting established, use a sink sprayer and a mister or a watering can, gentle, try not to be too rough on the roots

gentle sunlight throughout the day .. and if it starts looking really bad, water it thoroughly and stick it under a shrub or something outside, it'll come back, I promise!

I've had a fair degree of success, I have ferns, basil, gerbera's and some little frondy, palm thingie growing on my kitchen counter..

but have murdered an orchid and an ivy

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Neither basil nor oregano are hardy plants - certainly not where I live.

But I've got basil (along with geraniums, lettuce and tomato) on the windowsill. Three peppers, too, waiting to be potted on. Haven't got much room indoors, but we have the skeleton of a greenhouse on the allotment and I plan to grow oregano, tomatoes and peppers there when we get round to replacing the glass - maybe melons too if I can. Yum!

Kimmy, did your mint plant get kind of skinny and discoloured in the stalks, just above the soil in the pot, before it died?

If so, it may be a condition called 'damping off'. I've had a few promising plants die of it. It's caused by fungal infections in the soil, which usually originate due to poor hygiene in the place that sold the plant (or the place they bought the plant from themselves - it's always good to buy as far up the supply chain as you can). It's worse with indoor plants if the place where you put them is a bit humid, and if you water directly into the soil. I stand plants in a plant tray or on a saucer and water into that, instead of into the pot.

I've just dried some of the black spearmint I planted in the spring. Just strew the leaves in a single layer on a dinner plate on the counter and turn them once in a while as they crisp. Then either store them whole in a tin for use as tea, or chop them and store in a small pot to use for seasoning. These are destined to be seasoning: I'm saving the moroccan mint for tea.

I planted five different lavenders. Four are thriving, one has died. The thyme has purple flowers on it. The marigolds look a bit battered but some of them are threatening to flower.

Marigolds - especially french marigolds - are a good companion plant.

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Neither basil nor oregano are hardy plants - certainly not where I live.

But I've got basil (along with geraniums, lettuce and tomato) on the windowsill. Three peppers, too, waiting to be potted on. Haven't got much room indoors, but we have the skeleton of a greenhouse on the allotment and I plan to grow oregano, tomatoes and peppers there when we get round to replacing the glass - maybe melons too if I can. Yum!

Kimmy, did your mint plant get kind of skinny and discoloured in the stalks, just above the soil in the pot, before it died?

If so, it may be a condition called 'damping off'. I've had a few promising plants die of it. It's caused by fungal infections in the soil, which usually originate due to poor hygiene in the place that sold the plant (or the place they bought the plant from themselves - it's always good to buy as far up the supply chain as you can). It's worse with indoor plants if the place where you put them is a bit humid, and if you water directly into the soil. I stand plants in a plant tray or on a saucer and water into that, instead of into the pot.

I've just dried some of the black spearmint I planted in the spring. Just strew the leaves in a single layer on a dinner plate on the counter and turn them once in a while as they crisp. Then either store them whole in a tin for use as tea, or chop them and store in a small pot to use for seasoning. These are destined to be seasoning: I'm saving the moroccan mint for tea.

I planted five different lavenders. Four are thriving, one has died. The thyme has purple flowers on it. The marigolds look a bit battered but some of them are threatening to flower.

Marigolds - especially french marigolds - are a good companion plant.

That sounds like what went wrong with my first parsley plant then. It was fine for a couple days though it looked a little droopy. The next day the stalks got really thin and even more droopy. Then started changing colors and died.

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Kimmy, did your mint plant get kind of skinny and discoloured in the stalks, just above the soil in the pot, before it died?

If so, it may be a condition called 'damping off'. I've had a few promising plants die of it. It's caused by fungal infections in the soil, which usually originate due to poor hygiene in the place that sold the plant (or the place they bought the plant from themselves - it's always good to buy as far up the supply chain as you can). It's worse with indoor plants if the place where you put them is a bit humid, and if you water directly into the soil. I stand plants in a plant tray or on a saucer and water into that, instead of into the pot.

My mint plant seemed to die like cut flowers in a vase generally do. Slowly discoloring, wilting, etc. I don't remember if it started just above the soil or not, though.

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