Friday, June 8, 2012

Growing Culinary Herbs Outdoors

Every summer I grow herbs for cooking and for tea.  I use to grow herbs for healing but when I moved my space for growing herbs outdoors was limited as there are too many trees in my yard.  

 My husband suggested that I grow herbs year round in the greenhouse where we have grow lights. This of course is always a good idea as you do not have to worry about groundhogs eating your parsley or the brown grasshoppers.  It is the best to grow in way to grow healthy and organic herbs, however the bees and butterflies are not able to forage off the basil and rosemary blooms.  

I watched the sunlight in my yard and found that a small section received 4 hours of morning sun, followed by part shade in the afternoon and at 4:00 pm the section had full sun for another 3 hours.  The sun was enough and I decided to plant a small herb garden.

Photographs of my small culinary herb garden:

I set my herb garden up with a rock boarder.  I laid a thick newspaper lining to keep the grass and weeds from growing into the bed and then I added two inches of pea gravel mixed with sand for proper drainage and on top of that I added 12 inches of top soil mixed moisture control beads and equal parts compost.  I then planted; dill. African Blue Basil, Honeydew sage, oregano, Rosemary, chives, cilantro, Italian parsley and lemon mint. 

If you are contemplating growing herbs outdoors then here are some tips for growing herbs outdoors.

Grow Herbs in the Ground
  1. Use a tiller to break the ground and loosen the soil to 18 inches.
  2. Remove grass and rocks
  3. Break up soil lumps so that it is fine in texture
  4. Add organic compost to the garden soil and mix well
  5. Add slow release fertilizer

Grow Herbs in Raised Gardens
  1. Raised garden beds get more sun and dry out quickly so it is wise to set the raised garden in an area that is close to a water source; rain barrel or sprinkler head.Choose a flat surface for the raised garden.  A leveled garden will provide a good water balance.
  2. Buy a raised garden kit and set it up according to the directions.
  3. Fill your raised garden with a mixture of Scott's miracle grow moisture control garden soil, Scott’s compost and course sand. This mixture will provide your raised garden with hydration, nutrients and drainage.
  4.  Another way to fill your raised bed is to mix half organic compost with half potting soil.  Add water pearls to help retain moisture. .

Grow Herbs in Container Garden

  1. Drill holes on the bottom of the container to aid in water drainage.  For large containers you may want to drill holes on the side close to the bottom of container.
  2. Fill your containers with all purpose potting soil mixed with compost or manure.  Add water pearls to help retain moisture
  3. Fill soil to one inch bellow container top. This will prevent the water from draining off and will also allow you to apply peat moss or mulch around the herbs.

  1. Herbs need a minimum of six hours of direct sun to grow.
  2. Plant herbs after you have installed your patio, walkway. Once planted it is best not to disturb the soil.  As compacting the earth for patio or walkway will shift the earth from the herb roots and cause the plants to suffer.
  3. Water herbs daily; for containers and raised gardens, water in the morning and early evening.
  4. Avoid allowing soil to dry out.

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