If you’re not the type of person that wants to spend their time managing an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and maintaining a herb garden. While herbs might not seem as significant, you can start enjoying the constant availability of fresh, delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.
First you should choose the herbs that you want to plant, the best way to do this is to look at what you use in your kitchen. By planting your own collection you can save money while having the added benefit of freshness and quality.
When choosing an area to put your herb garden, you should aim for an area close to your home with extremely good drainage. Two ways to fix the drainage problem is to dig 30cm (1 foot) deep in the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing all the soil. This will allow all that water to escape, thus saving your plants. The other way is building a herb spiral, spirals not only provide good drainage but can be used in restricted areas by providing space upwards not outwards.
Spiral structures provide a variety of micro-climates ranging from shady moist areas at the bottom of the spiral to warmer drier areas at the top of the spiral. Herbs that prefer moist areas and the milder morning sun are mint, coriander, bergamot, borage, ginger, parsley, rocket, and watercress. The herbs that prefer warmer drier areas are garlic, lavender, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and yarrow.
When you are ready to begin planting herbs, you might be tempted to buy the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much easier and more economical to grow them from seeds. Note that some herbs grow at a dangerously fast rate, and can take over your entire garden really fast. The best way to prevent this problem is to restrict the more fast-growing plants to pots only, as in the case of mint.
Harvesting your delicious home grown herbs is very satisfying as you can use them in cooking. The best way is to pick your herbs fresh, however if you want to dry them, then this is achieved by placing them on a cookie sheet and baking them 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius) for 2 to 4 hours. After they’re sufficiently dried, you can consult the nearest cookbook for instructions on using them to effectively flavor a dish.
If you want to store your herbs for later usage, you should keep them in a plastic or glass container. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage, you should regularly check the container and see if any moisture has accumulated. If it has, you must remove all the herbs and re-dry them . Any left over moisture from the drying process will produce unwanted mildew in your stored herbs.
So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, then you should probably consider setting up a herb garden. It initially requires a little bit of work but you will have access to fresh produce and start becoming self sustainable.
Copyright Robert Mijas 2011