You may have thought that herbs are just for cooking. Not so–an herb is any plant that serves a purpose other than providing food, wood, or beauty. Herbs give us dyes for cloth, essential oils for fragrances, medicines, and even insecticides. And herbs are not just annual or perennial plants–many of our most important herbal products come from trees and shrubs. Every plant in the National Herb Garden, including all of the trees, is an herb.
A lot of people who love to cook with herbs use whatever little place they have in their home to cultivate their own herb garden. Having a small herb garden at home can be very helpful especially when you want to get some fresh herbs whenever you want. What is more interesting about having your own small herb garden is that you can be sure that your herbs are fresh and chemical free!
If you are one of those lucky people who have a small space in your backyard for gardening, it would be a good idea to allocate a space in your backyard for planting herbs. A nice corner of the yard where your plants will be least disturbed would be ideal for your herb garden. You may also put a fence around your herb garden to make sure that people and pets will not accidentally step on your plants. To get the soil ready for planting, use your garden tools to till it. If you are not sure how to prepare your garden plots for planting, it would be a good idea for you to consult some gardening books and magazines just to be sure.
If you happen to live in an apartment with a small terrace, you can set up a small herb garden without much trouble. The key here is to use some pots and some iron racks. Fill the pots with garden soil and put the pots in the rack. Make sure that your iron racks are sturdy to avoid accidents. Do not put pots on the ledge of your terrace. There is always a danger of the wind blowing off your pots and hitting some passersby below. Just stay on the safe size, try not to stack pots beyond the level of he railings of your terrace.
There are many types of herbs that you can plant in your herb garden. You may plant basil, dill, oregano, bay, angelica, rue, mint, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley and marjoram. You may plant just a few of your favorite kinds so that you will have a variety of herbs to choose from when cooking. Since most of these plants are not really hard to grow, even if you are a very busy person who only has little time to spare in your garden, you will not really have a hard time making these plants thrive in your herb garden. Just make sure that you water your plants everyday so that they will not welt and die.
BASIL, SWEET (Ocimum basilicum) Can be grown from seed. Germination usually occurs in 7 to 10 days. Basil is not difficult to transplant. Grows to 18 inches; space 12 inches between plants. Basil is very good to use to flavor tomato juice and tomato pastes.
CHERVIL (Anthriscus cerefolium) This plant will germinate in the fall and live over the winter. Grows to about 2 feet and should be spaced about 8 inches apart. Quick growing and is mature in 6 weeks. Fresh leaves can be frozen in small packets after washing carefully. Does not transplant well.
DILL (Anethum graveolens) This is an easily grown annual. Blossoms are tiny and pale yellow. Grows to around 2 and ½. Germinates in 7 to 10 days. Can be spaced as close as 4 inches apart.
LAVENDER (Lavandula). This is a hardy perennial with gray foliage and spikes of fragrant lavender flowers, which when dried are used to perfume the linen chest and for sachets. Dries easily when hung free in a dry garage or attic.
MINT (Mentha spicata) Mint is very easy to grow. It is a hardy perennial and spreads by root stolons. Sown indoors seed germinates in 10 to 15 days. Space 12 inches apart. Is at its best in good rich soil. Fine to use for mint jelly and in mint juleps, lemonade and other fruit drinks.
SAGE (Saivia officinalis) Seed sown indoors germinates in 14 days. Grows to 2 feet and should be spaced 12 inches apart. Can be sown outdoors in April with germination in 21 to 30 days.
THYME (Thymus vulgaris) This is a hardy perennial being of somewhat shrubby growth. Leaves are cut for drying before the blossoms are open. It is easily grown from seed sown indoors with germination in 20 to 30 days. Grows slowly when young. Space 8 inches apart. It needs rich soil. Grows to around 12”.
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