Do you love to use fresh home-grown herbs in your meals? Creating your own herb garden might be the answer! Don’t you know how? Thorough preparation is the keyword, so please allow us to help you and get started.
1. Choose the correct location
Most herbs need sunshine and prefer a sheltered spot, protected from the wind. So, the best location for a herb garden is a sunny, sheltered bed or other area in your garden. Should your garden lack such a location, don’t worry: you most certainly will be able to grow herbs, as some of them do very well in half or light shade.
Herbs for sunny spots: put herbs like these (like lavender and sage) in the sunniest spot available, allowing at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
Herbs for half shade: half shade means at least 3 hours of sunshine per day, which is ideal for chives, lovage and rosemary.
Herbs for light shade: in spots where sunshine is practically non-existent, plants preferring shade will do fine, for instance lemon balm, chervil and mint.
2. Soil preparation
Before you start making your very own herb garden, it is important to know (just as in how to create a kitchen garden) to find out the quality of your garden soil and how to improve it, if necessary. The thing is that some herbs have particular needs: absinth and mint, for instance, love clay or loamy soil, whereas light, sandy soil is perfect for Mediterranean herbs like tarragon, lavender and thyme.
Soil analysis will tell you if improving your soil is necessary. By checking acidity, using a pH meter, you’ll know whether your soil is chalky or acid. Generally speaking, any figure between 5.5 and 7.5 pH is OK. Lower than 5.5 pH means soil is acid, but adding lime will do the trick. Soil measuring 7.5 pH or more means it’s very chalky indeed, so in that case add garden peat or, more environmentally friendly, add homemade high acidity compost, consisting of leaf mould, coffee grounds and used black and green tea-leaves.
3. Planning and making a herb garden
Now you are almost ready to make your herb garden. The only matter in hand is its layout. Perhaps you are keen to let your herbs grow haphazardly and thereby creating an unspoilt, ‘naturally disorderly’ harmony. Although this may look good, it’s hardly practical. By dividing your garden into beds, interwoven with paths, it’s much easier to harvest your herbs and deal with weeds. Besides, in this way you can group together herbs that share the same characteristics, or group annuals in designated beds, making it much easier on yourself, as annuals need to be sown every year.
Herbs have various purposes
Cooking and using your home-grown herbs is simply great. But a herb garden may also be of other benefit to you, for instance because of the healing powers of herbs. Chamomile and lavender, to name but a few, are known for their relaxing and soothing qualities. Marigold is often used to relief external inflammations. And, apart from their medicinal uses, herbs make lovely teas. Many herbal teas are calming and will help you to fall asleep.
Do experiment! Naturally, in your very own herb garden you will want to grow favourite herbs for regular use, but do experiment by also choosing new and extraordinary herbs. Or try different species of one particular herb, such as basil, of which many colours, and indeed flavours, are available, ranging from lime to cinnamon. Simply find out which flavour or herb species you find attractive.
Beware of invasive plants: a number of herbs may grow rampant in your garden, for example mint and lemon balm. Should you put them directly into soil, chances are they will invade the whole of your garden… So, it’s much better to put these herbs in pots in order to inhibit their growth. Would you prefer to put all your herbs straight into in the soil, which of course looks much nicer? In that case dig them in pots and all.