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How to grow herbs in your garden

Herbs are very simple to grow, and very satisfying. They are a good way for a non-gardener to start, and will reward you with flavour and fragrance.

Herbs can be grown in a garden bed or in tubs and pots on a patio, balcony, even a sunny window sill.

All but the tallest herbs can be grown in pots, old laundry troughs, barrels or planter boxes, giving a rustic touch to the area.

herbs small

As well as providing colour and perfumes, flowering herbs such as rosemary, oregano, lavender and nasturtiums will attract insects such as butterflies, stingless native bees and wasps and honeybees, which will help pollinate your garden.

Easy to grow herbs

The most commonly grown herbs are parsley - curled and the flat Italian style - chives, basil, oregano, rosemary and mint.

Other easy to grow herbs include all the different types of thyme, coriander and nasturtiums grown for their edible leaves and flowers.

Planning a herb garden

What you grow will depend on three factors:

  1. The space you have:
    even on a small balcony its possible to have a few pots with parsley, chives, basil and oregano. In a bigger garden you can plant just about any herb you like, even the tall herbs like dill, lemon balm and sunflowers, and the spreading thymes.
  2. The amount of sun it gets:
    Most herbs like to have full sun, but many will be happy with several hours of morning sun, and a few, like mint, prefer a spot that's shady and damp. (Beware of mint ' if it's happy it will spread quickly by underground stems and roots. Confine it in a large pot.)
  3. The soil:
    Most herbs prefer light, well-drained soil and are not happy on heavy clay soil. If you have clay, plant your herbs in pots filled with a mixture of 2/3 potting mix to 1/3 soil.

Creating Your Herb Garden

Herbs can be grown in amongst the vegetables in your vegetable garden, or in a flower bed, and smaller trailing or compact herbs such as nasturtiums and aromatic thymes do well in a rockery, or as a border to cottage garden flower beds.

You could also create special garden bed just for your herb collection.

Lay out your herb bed to get the maximum sun, protection from wind, and ease of watering, cultivation and picking.

  1. Sunlight:
    If possible, site the bed to face north to north-east, to get the maximum sunlight, especially in winter. The individual beds should run north-south, so every plant gets lots of sun.
  2. Wind protection:
    All plants need some protection from wind. Cold winds slow down growth; hot winds evaporate water. Strong winds can damage plants. Windbreaks of trees, walls or lattice fences can be placed south or west, to provide protection without blocking the sun.
  3. Watering:
    Install micro irrigation systems. These are extremely efficient way of watering as the water is delivered directly to the roots and not lost to wind and evaporation. Mulch around plants to protect the soil and keep the water in.

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