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The Herbal Garden

Getting Started

At Herbs and Natural Remedies we are committed to organic methods of gardening.  This is the healthful way to make your garden grow.  It's more simple than you might think.  Stick a seed in the dirt, let it have plenty of sun, give it water, compost and pull the weeds.  The seed will know what it's supposed to do!

Okay, so maybe it's not quite that easy.  But close!  Probably the most important thing to be concerned with is your soil.  That's the first thing to deal with.  Your soil needs to be nutrient rich, weed-free and able to drain well.  All of these can be achieved even if your soil is not that way right now.  Here's how:

  • Pull or cut weeds.  Remove deep-rooted weeds with a knife or spade and be sure to get as much of the root as possible.
  • If your soil drains poorly, dig out about 12 inches and fill in with 6" of sandy loam, then with organic topsoil.  On top of the beds, place about 4" of compost and top soil mix.  This may look to "tall" but remember that soil settles.
  • If your soil is rich and drains well, you might consider using a bit of compost mixed in your soil for extra insurance.

Organic compost that you make yourself is the best however, you can buy it.  To make your own, pile up your grass clippings and leaves and let it sit for a few months.  You can also add coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, sawdust and other organic waste (manure, etc).  Turning the mixture with a shovel every so often helps to quicken the process.

The next step would be to pick seeds and plants that are suited to your growing region.  To find out which region you live in, check with this website: Garden - Hardiness Zones

When choosing your plants at the store, be sure to get healthy ones.  Examine the plants carefully.  Avoid plants that are wilted or yellowing.  Look for insects.  Also, look at the plants surrounding the ones you want -- If they are unhealthy, yours probably is to, just not showing the signs yet.  The soil can also tell you something as well.  If it smells bad, there's probably something wrong.

There are three classifications of herbs: annuals, biennials and perennials. Annuals are plants that die every year.  You'll have to replant them every year. They include plants like borage, flax, german chamomile, basil, sweet marjoram, anise, and dill. Biennials are plants that only grow for two seasons.  These include plants like the parsley. Then there are perennials which are plants that once planted they will come back every year.  Some examples of perennials are yarrow, chervil, arnica, wormwood, roman chamomile, fennel, chives, mints, oregano, and some of the lavenders.

Consider designing your garden layout on paper first.  It's a lot easier and cheaper to make mistakes on paper than in your garden.  Measure your garden site and then draw it to scale on paper.  Mark where trees, buildings, etc., are located.  If you are designing a large garden, make sure to leave room for pathways and keep beds narrow enough to work in.  Choices for plants can be based on color, height, conditions and/or type. Plant in order of descending height.  The tallest in back, the lowest herbs in front.  Or, in an island bed, tallest in the center. 

There are many books published on growing herbs that will prove useful to you. It's a small investment that can bring you rich results. My favorite book is Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.  It offers a wealth of information about herbs including gardening, garden design, companion planting and a lot more.

Once you've made your choices and you're ready to plant, scoop out a hole in your soil and place each plant so that the top of the rootball is even with the soil line and fill in with a mixture of compost and top soil.  Do not plant the stem.  Water each plant well and regularly.

Your first garden is going to be your learning experience.  You will have some successes and some failures.  That's just how it goes.

For more information that you can find online, try these links...

Organic Gardening - an online magazine

Lingles Herbs - a great source of information

Horticulture Online - another good online magazine

More gardening information on this website:

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