GROWING HERBS HEALTHY PASTIME
In the early days of America,growing herbs was the largest avenue for seasoning of foods.Many herbs were well known to the American Indian as herbs medicinal,tea herbs and common herbs for allergies. The gardening of herbs was also employed in storing linens,scattering on floors,hiding the bad taste of meats before refrigeration was invented,and used in fragrances.
The development of your local food store resulted in less growing herbs because a large selection of herbs in the dried state appeared on food store shelves. Then came the flood of immigrants from all over the world who were interested in maintaining their ethnical foods. The popularity of these ethic foods caught on with mainstream America.The realization that fresh herbs provided much more distinct flavor then many dried herbs resulted in growing herbs for fresh use as well as drying or freezing. In recent years a growing segment of the population has become very interested in herbal remedies.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUNLIGHT AND SOIL FOR GARDENING HERBS
Herbs are extremely easy to grow with correct sunlight and soil mix. A good sunny location with at least six to eight hours of sunlight will result in the manufacture of the largest quantity of oils essential to the flavor of the herbs.Some herbs cantolerate a less than sunny location but their growth and flavor will be diminished.Several come to mind as examples such as chives and parsley which can be grown in light shade.
An herb will grow in any good garden soil. It is better to have an alkaline soil than one with a lot of acid.If you think about it a soil with nearly neutral qualities is best for herbs and a ph reading in the range of 6.5 and 7.0 will result in healthy herb growth. It is best not to provide a highly fertilized soil because usually it results in over production of leaves with a reduced flavor.The best thing you can do for growing herbs is have sufficient organic matter. In establishing the soil you should include at least 4 inches of peat moss or compost which will improve the condition of the soil and aid in moisture retention.
The growing herbs require a good location with drainage. All of the highly regarded herbs do not thrive in wet soils.There are a few like sweet basil,which I do not consider to be a low regarded herb,peppermint,and sweet woodruff which is an excellentground cover to be in the moist soil class.
See how to harvest and dry herbs on this web site click here
Growing herbs from seeds is possible using small pots or flats indoors in the late winter or early spring.However as in any other endeavor there always are exceptions to the rules. It may take longer for some seeds to develop requiring a start date in February.You can transplant these later from a flat to pots and cultivate them in the garden after the danger of frost is gone. All of your herbs big seeds or small seeds will need a sunny window or a set of grow lights and temperature of 60 degrees for best growth.This picture depicts the seeds of coriander or cilantro. Review our web page on seed starting to get the particulars on using grow lights.
Seed starting will provide you info on grow lights
There are some herbs that do not transplant very well including coriander or common name cilantro pictured here.The 0thers include dill,anise and fennel as ones that come to mind.These should be planted directly into the soil as soon as temperatures allow.Incidentally when sowing your herbs indoors the finer the seeds the shallower you show sow them. It is best to use flatsfor this purpose and with the small seeds just press them to thesoil media you are using.
TO CUT DIVIDE OR LAYER THAT IS THE DILEMMA
Propagation by cutting works well with lemon balm,sage,lavendar, and rosemary pictured here.You can take cuttings from well established and healthy plants either in late spring or summer. The cuttings taken in the fall will take longer to root.You must have healthy tip growth and try to avoid the use of strong soft shoots or old woody stems.
Engage your sharp garden shears and cut just below a leaf node. The cutting should be 3-5 inches long and remove the lower leaves making it resemble a little tree.This will help to promote root formation. You may need a little more help with herbs like bay and rosemary which are slow to root. Just purchase some rooting hormone at the local garden shop and dip the point of the stem in the mixture.I would insert the cut end into a moist soiless mixture of perlite and vermiculite making sure that several leaf nodes have contact with the moist medium. I recommend small pots or any container that has good drainage.Our Gardners Monthly is now available FREE of charge just click here In about 4-6 weeks you can check your rooting skill to see if roots are forming.It is very easy to accomplish by gently tugging on the tiny plants to see if there is resistance. If you can detect resistance than your herbs are ready for transplant. It is advisable to place your new growing herbs in the shade for a few days before planting them in the bright sunshine. Want to know about growing lavender I have an entire web page about growing lavender just click here. Get the scoop on growing lavender
PART B DIVIDING YOUR HERBS
The dividing of well established herbs is a great way to start a group of new ones as the plants do increase in size each season and maybe invading more garden than you would desire. Early spring and fall are best for dividing your perennial herbs. The air temperature is much lower and the moisture should also be higher.Gardening herbs best suited for division include chives,germander,horehound,majoram,mint,sorrel, tansy,tarragon,woodruff,and many others.
In some instructions that I have reviewed it calls for digging up with a spade or a shovel that would be like cutting a 2" tree or bush with a chainsaw. I would use a common ordinary trowel not much bigger than 12" long to slice around the outer edge of the plant's root system. Once you obtain an eight or nine inch slice push your garden trowel under the base of the plant and lift it up bringing soil,roots and all. The reason I recommend this method,is in my experience if you make one sloppy move with a spade or shovel,you could damage the plant with such a large garden tool.
The nice clump pictured should then be put in touch with the ground and be divided into smaller clumps using your handy garden trowel.It maybe necessary to pry apart sizeable clumps or older clumps with a fork.Ease the younger shoots from the outside edge of the clump by either breaking them or cutting them off.It is important to cut all the leaves back to within 1 inch of the root.These should either be planted immediately or put in pots in a shady area until you ready to replant.In gardening herbs this the best method to divide.It allows for controlled increases in such herbs as chives,mints and French tarragon. Growing herbs can bea delightful pass time.
PART C LAYERING YOUR GROWING HERBS
Layering is no doubt the easiest and the most reliable approach to multiplying your perennial herbs perhaps best with thyme,lemon balm,sage,bay and rosemary. The reason for this method is to grow roots on the stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. It is best to choose a branch that is long and easliy bent and growing close to the garden soil maybe the top 6 to 10 inches of the branch.Once you have selected a good healthy branch of this size hold the branch in a vertical position close to the ground using the top 6 to 10 inches. Before lightly burying this branch, I would make a small nick in the branch with a knife to produce faster rooting. I would also recommend removal of leaves along the section of branch to be buried. The soil should be mounded on top of the branch no deeper than 3 to 6 inches. It will be essential to hold all of this in place with stakes or pins.
You should wait at least 3-4 weeks until the new plant has shown some growth and have assured yourself that the plant has taken root.Then detach the growing herbs from the stem connecting the old plant and the new plant by pushing a trowel into the soil between the new and old plant and cutting the stem with your garden shears. You should wait at least two weeks before digging up the plant(s).Enjoy your growing herbs hobby,
LOTS MORE GROWING HERBS TO COVER
I just realized there is a lot more to cover about growing herbs. The harvesting, drying,drying of seeds,and herbs medicinal purposes. I would also like to cover cooking and some flavorful recipes for using herbs. You will find references to these web pages here as they are developed. It is an abundance of information that is way too much for one web page. I will try to prepare these pages as fast as I can.
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