Herb gardens can be therapeutic, fragrant, beautiful and delicious. Planting an herb garden is easy and fun. You can grow it indoors or out. Even starting from seed, you can start to harvest your own fresh herbs within about a month.

Start with small pots, window planter or plant directly in your garden. Planting in small containers can give you a little bit more control over your herbs’ sun and weather exposure. Make sure that the containers you choose allow for plenty of drainage. Most herbs have delicate root systems that can easily rot if they are kept too wet. You can add rocks, moss or sand to the bottom of each container to encourage drainage.

The next step is to prepare the soil for your herb garden. You can just use potting soil, but a little extra effort can go a long way. Ideally, twenty-five percent of your mix should be compost material. Manure, humus and peat make good compost if you do not have your own compost bin. If your soil has a lot of clay, you may need to work in a little sand. Clay soil is usually orange or reddish in appearance. It is hard and does not drain well. If your soil has too much sand, it may drain too much. In this case, add more potting soil or compost.

Once your soil is prepared, you will be ready to plant. Sprouting from seeds will help you avoid soil borne diseases that may be lurking in nursery potted plants. Soak new seeds in water overnight if you have time. Another method is to place the seeds on a wet paper towel inside of a plastic sandwich bag for a few days. Make sure that you keep it sealed. When sprouts are about an inch long, very carefully transport them to their permanent location. If you want, you can plant seeds directly in their containers. Make sure that you cover them with plastic wrap to protect them while they are so little. Soil should be moist when you plant.

When plants are about two inches tall, remove the plastic and let them get some sun. Be careful about temperatures over eighty degrees at this stage. Baby plants can easily get too hot or too dry and die. Bring indoors at night if you are in an area that is still experiencing any colder weather. Most people choose to keep their herb garden inside until plants are more mature. A window sill is a great place to ensure that you are letting your herbs get enough light.

Watering is very important. Since you want your planters to drain well, you will also have to watch for dryness. Ideally, the soil should be moist, not wet. Water your herb garden about daily. Watch for wilting, yellowing, crusting or extra dry soil. If your herb garden is outside, use a hose reel to keep your water hose close at hand for easy watering. Enjoy harvesting your herbs for months to come!

By: Stacy Pessoney

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