Where to plant my herb garden?

zengeos(5 Maine)January 19, 2008

OK.. perhaps this has been asked numerous times before, but...WHERE should I plant my herb garden? I can't plant in the front yard as that is just tooo wet. The side front is the leech field for my septic system, so it's dry in the summer.

The side yard is a pretty steep hill.

The back yard, out about 50 feet from the house seems pretty rich, but is heavy soil. I have been using it as my veggie garden, amending with compost yearly, to lighten the soil and improve micro nutrients. Further out it is much sandier and drier. Part of that area (1000 square feet or so) I made into a new flower/bulb garden this last fall, amending with 4 yards of good quality, rich compost.

I have about an acre in the back that is usable, still, so it's just a matter of placement. Further out will be difficult to water regularly.

I also plan to intermingle herbs with my veggie garden for companion planting purposes, but I want a specific herb garden besides.

Thanks for your responses.

Mark-

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Intermingle in the vegetable garden is fine. Herbs all need different growing soils and conditions. Some like dry sandy, some like moister heavy soils. Some like lots of sun, som don't. Some like cooler shady areas, while others like heat. You would have to research the specific herbs you wish to grow and then decide on what location you think is best for them. Not everything will grow everywhere. About the only place you do NOT want to grow in is a leech field or over a septic system. I have a plastc pipe I buried in the ground next to my garden, and its inlet is nearby a faucet at the side of my house. Its below the ground level, so a mower will not harm it. The other end is about 65 feet away and comes up at a hose fitting with faucet and a 4 way splitter. I need only to plug in a 'quick disconnect' at the faucet end and then turn on the faucet. The other end goes to several pourous hoses used as drip irrigation, and my garden gets well watered as well as controlled watering due to the various outlets fitted to the outgoing faucet which is mounted on a post. I do NOT use any sprinklers as they tend to increase risk of fungal disease on the leaves of the plants. Another help is a heavy duty plasic fabric that I use for weed prevention. Its worked well for several years now and I think I can get 2 more years out of it before its finally too old to deal with. Its 6 foot wide strips that go down quite easily and fast. The nice thing is not to hav to weed all the time, and because it helps to prevent moisture losses, its great around areas like cukes and watermelons where they need a lot more water than most other items.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 11:29AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

"Herbs" run through a wide variety of needs and conditions. Are there some herbs you are specifically wondering about? Letting people know the specific plants may help you to get the information you are looking for.

I intermingle herbs in perennial flower beds, vegetable beds, and any other place I have were the conditions and the plants needs match up. The caveat is that if you intermingle your herbs (especially in flower beds), take care as to what if any pesticides and fertilizers you use. If you have to use one of these, look for an organic gardening product.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 8:45PM
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zengeos(5 Maine)

OK here's my little list of herbs and companion plants I have ordered seeds of...

It's easier to just say....most herbs that grow in zone 5 ;)

Genovese Basil
Dark Purple Opal Basil
Chinese Chives Mix
Thyme - French Summer
Lemon Balm
German Chamomile
Hyssop - Blue
Bee Balm - Lemon
Dill - Bouquet
Catnip
Oregano Vulgare
Parsley - Giant of Italy
Chives - Common
Summer Savory
Borage
Russian Tarragon
Peppermint
Broad Leaf Sage
Lovage
Feverfew
Rue
Tansy
St. Johnswort
Curly Parsley
True Oregano
Caraway
Cilantro-"Caribe"

I am getting seeds for ALL of these. Some, I beleive, won't *do* much for a year, others will show relatively quick results. I may also buy established plants of some of these herbs.

I may have gone a little *overboard*...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 10:05PM
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zengeos(5 Maine)

One last thing, my last frost date is around may 20-25th. Should I start some indoors, or winter sow some? If so, which ones, and when, relative to last frost date?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 10:19PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Again, you need to know what the 'days to maturity' are. Without that knowledge, you can't determine if direct sowing or starting indoors in small pots is needed. Most any herb will have specific requirments as to germination. Some sprout in the dark, while others need light. Some need a moist soil, and others wetter. Some need heat and some need cold to sprout. Every seed packet sold, usually has a date to maturity as well as any other specific germination requirements. Here is an example- Tomatoes started outdoors from seed, might not ever reach bearing age if you live in a zone of 3-4. These obviously need more growing time, hence the need to start plants indoors. Other seeds don't need this extra time. Again, planting zones are also important and even if you believe that the last frost date is May 20, and you get a frot on the 27th, you could loose everything unless you took some frost protection actions. Some plants do poorly in the heat of summer, example- Cilantro, is better when planted late in the season, or very early for two harvests, as it cannot tolerate a lot of heat and strong sun.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 9:19AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Most, if not all, of your herbs are sun loving plans so no shade locations as a rule. Some have different moisture requirements so be sure to read (google is great for this!) what are the growing conditions for each plant.

Basil - of all sorts, I've direct sown as well as started indoors. The indoor starts mature faster but the direct sown (at least for me) seem more robust. Try both and see what works for you.

I've done well with direct sowing: chives, thyme, lemon balm, dill, catnip, borage, sage, feverfew, parsley, cilantro. Parsley is slow so indoor starting is good too. Both borage and feverfew are prolific self-seeders and will be forever yours once planted. Chives are slow and will take a number of years to be nice and full from seed - have patience. I haven't done caraway but it would be much like dill and you could direct sow that one as well.

Some of the others I would start indoors: German Chamomile, Hyssop - Blue, Bee Balm - Lemon, Oregano Vulgare, Summer Savory, Russian Tarragon, Lovage, Rue, Tansy, St. Johnswort, True Oregano. Some of these may have special germination conditions so look them up or check the seed package.

Peppermint. Hmmm. The seed does not really result in true peppermint. You will need to get a live plant for this. The seed will result in more spearmint like plants.

If you're going to be herb gardening, find a nice book on growing them. It will be an valuable resource that you will keep referring back to. There are lots of books on this. Find one that you like the format and the information in it. This is truly the best advice I can give.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 4:56PM
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