Planning a new herb garden

nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)December 21, 2013

I have about a 3x12 area that I've been using for herbs in pots. Many of these have outgrown their pots and this year have frozen with our week long temps of 19-25 or so (yes, I know I know, but we're in sunny CA! ;) )
I'm thinking of putting the herbs in the ground this year with 12x12" blocks throughout to hopefully slow down the nastursium that has taken over!
When I first started with herbs, I planted them all in a 3x3' box, and they all grew crazy and I didn't know what was what! I tore that out and went to pots.
So, with my 3x12' area, what's left alive through this freeze is rosemary in a planter, looking healthy, thyme (I love several kinds) is getting a bit root bound, Sage-very small, might want to go into the ground.
Dead is marjorum, chives, tarragon basil (of course)
So, anyway....thoughts on doing a checkerboard-type herb garden? What herbs would be good in clay-like ground, and a pretty layout? Nancy

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I doubt the chives, tarragon and marjoram are dead. They naturally die down to the ground in winter but regrow in the spring.

Most Mediterranean herbs like a free draining soil so clay will not be ideal. You might need to loosen it up with organic matter and grit. Parsley and chives prefer a moister soil so will be better suited to the clay.

12 x 12 blocks are a bit small. 24 x 24 would be better for sage and it can get much bigger. And you might need to clip the rosemary to keep it in bounds. A bay tree would go in there well too but would need to be trained/pruned.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 8:42AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I've got plenty of compost to work in if it ever rains enough to soften up the clay!
1x1' cement blocks are what I have. These will be on top of the ground with a space here and there for whatever plant I put in.
I think you thought blocks of planting space. I will space the plants further apart. Nancy

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 11:37AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Ah - I get the picture now.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 1:17PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

So, basically, you're using the cinder blocks to build raised beds for your herbs? Or just using them to 'wall' each plant apart from each other.

As stated, most herbs prefer a very well draining soil, so the raised beds might help you a lot if your soil is that heavy clay. As Flora stated--I highly doubt your chives or tarragon are dead (they survive here for me)--so they'll come back. Marjoram is iffy--from what I know, it cannot freeze, but it may depend on the varietal. Some are more hardy than others. (for me it's an annual or comes inside for winter)

I would do a little research so that you're able to group your herbs according to preference--basil, parsley, chives like water...rosemary, thyme, sage do not. Then you can just water the one corner regulary and the others only when needed. I think it's best to keep each 'square' to one plant, and do your research on how big. Sounds very cute!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 1:55PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Balloon- Actually, picture a checker board made of paving stones (1'x1'), then pull up, say every third one to place a plant in. Some will still be in pots on top of these also.
Sorry if I didn't make things clear!
I do like your thought about planting them by water preference! With all of my herbs in pots right now, I never thought of that!
Nancy

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 9:47PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Since Nancy is in CA zone 8 I think the Marjoram could well survive over winter.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 5:09AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

We'll see. Like I said, we had over a week of temps in the teens and low 20's. Something we aren't at all used to!
I think I'm going tp pretty much re-do the whole thing anyway =) Nancy

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 9:05PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

I have chives, tarragon, sage, mints, etc. and they all do well with our very long and cold winters! They will come back, as long as they're protected by being in the ground. We can't overwinter pots here...but snow is a great insulator :)

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 10:26PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Sinking pots into the soil is also another option for winter.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 2:53PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Well, we've taken everything out of the 3x12 area and soaked it so that we can dig/till it to even the area out.
We only found 2 places that creeping Thyme is still growing, so I think I'm going to up root it and do all painted 1x1 pavers with herbs in pots.
We live right next to a weedy horse field and the wind blows weed seed in like crazy!
I'm OK with covering the vege gardens for the winter, but it doesn't really work with an in ground herb garden. At least here!
Starting tomorrow! I'll take pics, but I still have to learn how to post them with my new stupid phone! Nancy

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:14PM
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