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planning an herb garden - help please?

Posted by canokie 7a (OK) (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 18, 12 at 14:10

Hello everyone,

I am planning my first herb garden, and would really appreciate some advice. I have very little experience growing herbs, other than some Genovese basil grown from transplants last year (which did very well in my vegetable garden). First, I guess I need help figuring out which herbs are perennial and which are annual here in the OKC area. I am also trying to figure out if there are cool season and warm season herbs like there are vegetables. Where I come from (Canada) fresh herbs like chives and dill grow all summer (and nothing grows in the winter lol) but I'm not sure about down here. Do I need to plan on growing chives and dill in the fall/winter/early spring only? Chives are perennial where I grew up, but do they die in the heat down here, or just go dormant for the hot part of the summer? Which herbs will grow/produce well during our summers? Are there any herbs I need to keep in a pot rather than plant in the ground (or dig up in the fall?)

Here are a few of my favorite herbs, but I am open to new ones if they do well here:

chives
dill
basil
rosemary
sage

I understand that some of these herbs produce flowers, but I would also like to mix in some other flowers, preferably edible but don't have to be. Can you please suggest some flowers (perennials or annuals) that would be good companions for herbs?

I was planning to grow herbs in my backyard potager that is nearly completed, but after learning that most herbs are perennials, I decided that it might be best if they have their own permanent place to grow, and I keep the raised beds in back for annual vegetable crops.

Thanks!

Shelley


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 18, 12 at 15:54

My mothers rosemary made it all winter outside and my chives died back but came on strong when the temps warmed up. Basil croaked at 32 degrees. My chives did just fine in the heat we had last summer.
The others you posted I did not try. Im in south Tulsa

Mike


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

over here in Eastern OK my parsley, sage, rosemary, and cilantro stayed green all winter. a friends dill was still going in the middle of winter. my basil went with first frost. of course we had a mild winter. basil and dill handled last summers heat fine, the others stayed alive but didn't really thrive till the drought broke. POOL


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Looking forward to the posts on this one. My sweet basil is finally happy with it's first two real leaves. Aside from chives, every herb I try to grow "croaks". Not sure why. Rosemary? Ppftt It hates me. lol


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Shelley,

Many herbs need good drainage, so make sure your herb bed drains well. Some herbs grow fine in amended clay that doesn't necessarily drain really well including basil, chamomile, catmint, catnip, lemon balm, onion chives, garlic chives and mints. Mint will grow in just about any soil and is highly invasive and the best way to control it is to keep it in containers.

Tnere are cool-season herbs. Cilantro, dill and chamomile are cool-season, although at least the dill and chamomile can bloom late into the warm season as long as you keep them deadheaded. With cilantro, if you are growing it for the leaves, it does best if planted early and harvested before it goes to seed. If you are growing cilantro for the seeds (which are the spice sold as coriander), once they go to seed, they're obviously done for the year. Choose slower-bolting varieties of cilantro in order to keep it going for as long as possible once hot weather arrives, and you can succession sow every couple of weeks so you always have more cilantro coming along.

A few herbs that are annuals are basil, dill, borage, and cilantro. Parsley is technically a biennial, but often grown as an annual. Some of the herbs that are perennial are rosemary and lavender if they have good drainage, and chives, comfrey, fennel, lemon balm, marjoram, the various mints, lemon verbena, Mexican mint marigold, sage and thyme. Some annuals like chamomile reseed so well that once you plant them, you'll have them forever if you let them go to seed.

I love chives, but if you let them reseed they'll take over, so even though I let them flower, I deadhead the flowers before they can go to seed.

My chives don't die back in the summer, but I keep them well-watered and deadheaded. If you water less or don't deadhead them, I am not sure how they'll perform. The heat doesn't seem to bother them at our house though.

I have found that thyme needs better drainage than I can give it, so I don't even try to plant it any more.

Mints are invasive in general and will take off and spread like mad so are better restricted to pots. I do like to put them in areas that are getting too shady for grass to grow and where they can spread rampantly and it doesn't bother me, but I keep them away from my actual garden. I think last year's drought killed all my mints. I didn't think anything would kill mint but won't know for sure for a while yet. They might surprise me by coming back.

With herbs, a few plants go a long way and the herbs, like basil for example, that like our weather can become huge monsters.

Herbs have many uses in addition to the usual culiary usage. Edible flowers like nasturtiums, violets and lavender can be grown in your herb beds, and many other herbs produce flowers that are edible, including borage, basil, bergamot, scented geraniums, rosemary, roses, chamomile, chives, and pot marigolds (calendula). You can use the edible flowers in salads and in some recipes. Lavender cookies, for example, are very good.

With herbs, I prefer to grow the organically and I always let some of them flower because their flowers attract beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden.

To harvest herbs, you can harvest them any time they are large enough to tolerate the pruning, which in essence is what you're doing when you're harvesting herbs. Be careful not to cut back the plants too hard or it can kill them. That is especially true in very hot weather where it may that too much cutting at one time stresses them so much that they cannot recover.

I like to harvest herbs at mid-morning when the dew on the plants has dried. If you are going to harvest herbs for fresh use, only cut as much as you need right then. If you are cutting in order to preseve them, cut them late in the day when they are very dry, especially if you intend to preserve them by drying them. Damp herbs can mold before the dry. There are different ways to preserve herbs--drying them, freezing them alone, freezing them in oil, freezing them in soup stock or water, or by making herbal oils or herb butters. Some herbs, like dill, can be harvested as foliage (dill weed) or as seed (dill seed). You can make jellies with different kinds of herbs too.

Most herbs tolerate partial shade quite well or dappled shade.

Herbs have many uses: culinary, as tea plants, as medicinals, as insect repellents, or for dyes, potpourri and for various crafts. When I was in my 20s I met a woman who was an avid herb gardener and she'd cut various culinary herbs, fashion them into swags you could hang in your kitchen and present them as gifts. You could hang the swag in your kitchen and use it over time as dried herbs, just snipping off what you needed with kitchen scissors.

A few herbs are grown for their roots. With those, most people tend to leave them in the garden all season and harvest them in the fall, often replanting some of the roots for plants for the following year.

True French tarragon is very hard to grow in our climate, but Mexican Mint Marigold, also sold in Texas labeled sometimes as Texas Tarragon, is a great substitute that grows very well in our climate.

Tansy is a beautiful herb but tends to become a huge monster, so I've moved it out of the garden and into a part of the landscape where it can run rampantly and I won't care. I have tons of space for it though. I wouldn't try to grow it in an area with limited space.

I mix my veggies, herbs and flowers together in a large cottage garden but dedicated herb gardens are quite beautiful. Just be sure to group together plants with the same moisture and drainage needs.

Dawn


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Dawn, try the flowers from chives in a salad. Pretty and taste good too!

Moni


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Moni, I do use them that way. I also use them to decorate platters. One year I took a platter of deviled eggs to an Easter gathering and had the platter covered with lettuce and parsley with the chives flowers scattered around in between the eggs and it was spectacular. I just have to be really careful about harvesting all those flowers before they go to seed, or I'll have about a million chives plants the next year!

That same gathering, a friend of mine also brought a platter of devilled eggs to a gathering and she had her platter lined with a frilly type of lettuce and had violas and pansies scattered on her platter. We joked about our "inner Martha Stewart" coming out in those well-decorated trays of eggs.

Dawn


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I have been watching this thread with much interest. My wife is a great cook but we do not know anything about fresh herbs. I have tried to grow a few in the past but they were never used. We both need to educate ourselves on the growing, harvesting and use of herbs.

Could any of you suggest a book that might help us.

Thanks, Larry


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Larry, That's a good question and I hope someone has an answer for it. I know how to cook with most of them (that I like), but I never know how to plant them. Most of the books that I have will tell how to use them instead of how to grow them. I hate cilantro, and it makes me a little sick to smell it, so that one is totally out for me.

I wish that I had a book that separated the annuals from the perennials, told me which ones did best in containers, but most of all, how many plants you need so I knew how many seeds to plant. Obviously a plant or two of Rosemary would be fine, and mint is invasive if you don't control it, so a pot is best, etc.

I always plant a lot of basil and I use it. I have killed more Rosemary than you can imagine. I have grown parsley, cutting celery, chamomile, ginger, horseradish, and probably a lot of others I am not remembering, but I never know if I should be planting 3 seeds hoping to get one plant, or 30 seeds hoping to get 20 plants. I guess the bottom line is that I have cooked with a lot of things that I have never seen growing, and don't know how they grow. I snicker when I hear people say they grow like weeds, because maybe I am weeding them out along with the weeds, because I have never had good luck with most of them. Dill is another example, and I plant seeds about every year, but if I get a couple of plants, I am lucky. I have some fennel seeds that are several years old, but I think I will plant them in the flower bed, not in the garden. My chamomile also lives in the flower bed because I think it has a cute little flower and I don't plan to use it for anything.

I have a stack of herb seed packs on my table right now that I plan to plant, but it is a guessing game for me when I start planting seeds.

I have also learned that all plants called by the same name have very different tastes. While I love Genovese basil, I dislike lettuce leaf basil. I don't like the strong taste of licorice. I had some of both last year, and was very careful to pick the nice sweet one each time, and I know not to plant the other one again.

This is what I have in my stash that I plan to start. I have others, but this is what I have chosen. Black Sesame, Stevia, Rocket, Genovese Basil, Broadleaf Sage, Common Winter Thyme, Flat Leaf Parsley, Curled Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic Chives, Chives, Oregano Vulgare, Amaranth, Fino Verde Basil, Catnip, Mint, Dill, Russian Tarragon, and True Greek Oregano. That is.....if this blasted rain ever stops.

I will take all of the culinary herb education I can get, but most of the books don't separate those out. I plan to put the Amaranth in my flower bed because it is a pretty purple one. I would like to put the mint in the ground, but with a barrier so it wouldn't spread. Would six inches down be deep enough to keep it from escaping? I need knowledge.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I have a bunch of herb books, I'll try & remember to look at them tonight & list the ones I like. Here's my experience with herbs (one of the few things I can grow without murdering):

Chives: Not sure which kind they are, but I bought a container full of chives 2 falls ago. While they struggled in last summer's heat, they came back once it cooled off, & did pretty well in this winter's mild conditions. One container died back completely, but I saw little green shoots this weekend.

Dill: grew it for the first time last summer, & it did pretty well even with the heat. I only grew 2 plants since I didn't know how it would do, but managed to harvest a pretty good supply of dill weed & seed.

Basil: Love the stuff & grow lots of varieties every year. The purple basil looks great in salad; the lemon & lime basils have a little citrus-y flavor; the cinnamon has a little different flavor to it. And if you like herb tea, they give it a unique taste. My suggestion is to plant as much as you can, but that's just me. It's an annual, but you can take cuttings in the fall & keep it over winter.

Rosemary: love the look & smell, but can't grow it worth a darn. I've killed too many potted plants to keep count, & the ones I grow in ground all die off in the winter.

Sage: Love it about as much as basil, & it grows about as well for me. It's a perennial, so it'll spread. My mom had one in a pot one year, & at the end of the season emptied the pot into a corner of one of her beds. That one sage plant took root & has now spread to about 4'x6' diameter, & that's with me cutting it back pretty severely several times a season.

A few others that do great for me are oregano (started with one 4" plant, now have 6 bushes about 3ft diameter each, & I keep dividing it), mint (once established, it's almost impossible to kill), & lemon balm (mint family, so keep it contained or learn to live with it taking over the world).

Containers: chives, basil, sage, cilantro, mint, lemon verbena (it doesn't like cold, so bring it in in the winter so you'll have it next year)

In ground: mint (if you can let it spread), oregano, sage, basil, dill, rosemary, lavender


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Larry, My favorite book is an oldie but a goodie written by Madalene Hill and her daughter, Gwen Barclay, with Jean Hardy. Its title is "Southern Herb Growing" and it was published in 1987. There is a later edition of it that was published in 1997. My copy of the book is a hardback with beautiful photography and I don't know if there is a paperback edition of it or not. One thing I love most about this book is that these women actually raised herbs in the south and know what various weather conditions and soils common in this part of the country do to/with/for various herbs. At the time the book was published, Madalene Hill was president of The American Herb Society and she really knew her stuff. She passed away in 2009.

There are plenty of good books, but it is best to choose one that addresses issues caused by our weather and our soils here in the southern plains or the south. Books written about growing herbs in climates that are milder and less extreme than ours have not been as helpful to me with regards to growing herbs here.

Another favorite of mine is not strictly a garden book or strictly an herb book, but I wouldn't know how else to categorize it. In order for this book to make logical sense to someone who's hearing about it for the first time, I have to explain that China Bayles is a fictional lawyer-turned-herb shop owner in the Hill Country of Texas featured in a series of herb-related mystery murder books written by author Susan Wittig Albert. They are great books and I read each new one as soon as I can after it is released. In each of those books, one herb plays a prominent role in the book, and you learn a lot about that herb, including ways to use (or misuse) the herb and recipes too, while reading the work of fiction. So, what if China Bayles took time out from her busy life of running an herb emporium and solving crimes to write a book? Well, you'd get this book: "China Bayles' Book of Days" which has a one-page article for each day of the year, featuring herbs and how to use them and relating them not only to history, etc., but sometimes to the characters' from Susan Wittig Albert's series of books featuring China Bayles. I have learned more about the history and usage of herbs from this book than any other single book other than the first one I mentioned here. This week's entries in China's book? Yesterday the feature was "A Fragrance Garden" and included ideas for planning a fragrance garden and a list of herbs you could use in a fragrance garden. Often, though not in every single case, at the end of the page there is a list of other sources of info about planning the topic of the day. Sonetimes they are books related to herbs, sometimes they are more related to cooking with herbs, and sometimes the other resources are more related to history. On today's entry, the feature is the spring equinox and herbs ruled by Aries, how to use these herbs, and suggested further reading resources to learn more about the link between herbs and astrology. So, it is a fun book where you learn something new every day and are referred to other info sources if you want to dig into the topic more deeply.

Herbs can be finicky about soil so providing good drainage is essential, and for growing in pots this often means mixing up your own well-draining mix because commercial mixes often don't drain well enough. Also, our extreme fluctuations from cold to hot to cold to hot again in winter and spring can be as hard on some herbs as our perpetually hot and usually humid summers. I have found herbs pickier about their conditions than most veggies and many flowers, but once you get them in the situation they like, they grow like mad.

Dawn


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Carol, and Dawn, thanks, I think I have been pointed in the right direction. I have a place to start now.

Larry


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Larry, You are welcome.

Dawn


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

both lavender and rosemary need good drainage! You might hill the spot, where you plant them. Also, lavender doesn't like mud splashed on it. It does well, if you put gravel around it... covering the soil.

Both do really well in full sun.

Moni


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Dawn, I'm a huge bookworm, so your book description has intrigued me. I'm gonna have to look that one up now.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

All kinds of herds growing in my garden.

Cilantro become one of the cool season weed in our garden! I grow them for fresh leaves, freezing and leave half of them for seeds. last year trashed couple of plants with seeds in rose bed, we have been harvesting fresh leaves since Jan.

Dill is easy to grow, we treat Dill as green vegetable rather herb. We grow lot of them for cooking, chapped dill goes very with lentils or just saute them with some onions and garlic!

Thyme, Oregano, Lemon balm, Chives, Sage. Mint are growing in "herb bed" especially meat for herbs only. Basil reseed them in that beds every years. I pick few seedling to transplant them to other vegetables beds, they grow pretty large.
Our three years old rosemary become small bushy tree. Cold won't bother rosemary. Same with Russian sage.

Mint: be very car full with it, it is very invasive! Last year while I was planting strawberry, my daughter planted a mint twig in the same bed, now it has covered all half of the strawberry bed. I tried to remove but their roots pulling strawberry plant along... I don't know how to remove them without affecting strawberry plants. Another mistake I did was to grow some in green house for winter harvest, now it is showing up everywhere... it is one of the worst invasive herb.

here are some pics of the herb taken this morning;

Fall sown cilantro over wintered, now growing really fast

Dill

Chives in corner

Rosemary back of the asparagus pot

Mint in strawberry beds

Mint in greenhouse

Spring sown cilantro and fenugreek in greenhouse beds

Other herbs for cats and fragance

Sorry I not taken all herbs pics, after seeing this post i just picked some from the morning shots.

-Chandra


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Chandra, those are very nice pictures. I trier growing 2 or 3 different kinds of mint some years ago and was unhappy with it. It grew very well but I could not figure what to do with it, and it was almost impossible to get rid of. I had the same luck with Horseradish, but I can see where Horseradish would be great if a person learned how to use it, it seemed very hot but I was eating it like a radish.

Larry


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Larry, I grew horseradish last year and read some instructions that you should not dig it the first year, but I did dig mine. I grew 3 containers, so it was easy to dig. I saved the small pieces in a large pot where they stayed all winter and are now coming up. I saved some roots in the refrigerator just in case. Once you make the horseradish it needs to be refrigerated and used in a few months. It is pretty bland until you start releasing the oils which is what you did when you started cutting.

The recipe that I used said to put one half cup of water in the food processor and a large pinch of salt and to add eight ounces of scrubbed and peeled horseradish root, cut in pieces. Have 6 tablespoons of vinegar ready and close as this is what controls the heat. You have to add the vinegar to it before the horseradish starts to darken, but each minute you wait makes it hotter. The processing releases the oils and the vinegar stops the enzyme action. I added the vinegar at about 2 and 1/2 minutes. Some recipes say to add a pinch of sugar when you add the salt, but I didn't.

The recipe said to be in a well ventilated room with a window open (or outside) and that the fumes would be many times worse than cutting a strong onion. I didn't find that to be the case, but I did wear rubber gloves as advised. My husband thought it was wonderful, and I am sure he has forgotten that I saved some or he would want me to use it to make more.

I can see several shoots where it is coming up in the pot where I put the small pieces last year. I think the plant is pretty, but since it has a reputation of being invasive, I am keeping it contained.

I'm sure you will get other ideas from people who grow it all of the time, but last year was my only year to grow it and that is what I did. I ordered 3 roots from Simmons Plant Farm in Arkansas to get my start.

I am not a tea drinker so the mint doesn't interest me there, but I lived in Greece for two years and you frequently find a hint of mint in their main dishes which I learned to enjoy.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Thanks everyone for the replies :) And Chandra, those pictures are gorgeous!


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Carol, thanks, where I lived at the time I had running water in the garden. I just lifted some out of the ground, washed it and tried to eat it like a carrot. I had never seen any before, but wanted to try different things.

I hope to try different herbs this year and horseradish may be on the list now that I know what to do with it.

I like tea, but the stuff I boiled up out of the mint leaves really had a bad smell.

Needless to say that I was single at the time and knew nothing about cooking (still don't) and needed a woman to take care of me.

Larry


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I forgot to digout the Horseradish planted last spring, it was growing luxuriously in drought conditions as well. This year it is shooting out in 5-6 location around the original plant location. I like its crunchiness with other salads.

Thanks Carol for the recipe, will try that time time.

Larry I am glad to know that it is an invasive! But I guess it will not be in our garden! -Chandra

Another invasive spices by seeds is morning glory. Already thousandths of seedling started show up in flowers beds. I am going to shallow till flowers beds when soil become dry. -Chandra


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

With Rosemary, it depends on the cultivar you grow. Rosemary 'Arp' is the hardiest. A lot of the little pots of Rosemary offered in herb sections at various garden centers and big box stores, is Rosemary officinalis and it is not hardy in our zone 7. Another one that may be hardy here is Rosemary 'Madeline Hill' aka 'Hill Hardy'. Less hardy than any of the upright Rosemary's is prostrate, or creeping Rosemary. I see the variety, Tuscan Blue, sold in OKC a lot, and it is not hardy here either. Some of the less hardy cultivars may have survived this winter of warm temps, but will eventually be killed in a cold winter unless you grow it in a container and bring it in, or you have a very warm microclimate.

Rosemary needs full sun, sharp drainage, and good air circulation to survive as well.

Susan


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

The herb I use the most (besides basil in the summer) is thyme. I was able to harvest from it this winter too. I have a variegated variety so cut off the all-green part to use.

I love the mint I got from Chandra at the swap. I kept it in a pot and brought it in for the winter and it is back outside now of course and it is doing fine.

I don't plant chives because I have so many wild onions I am always pulling so use those.

I couldn't grow rosemary for a long time, but now I can. I planted it in very well draining soil and non-soil medium and added lime. I lost a section of it after the ice storms but it has grown back even better.

I love sage but have lost mine so am going to plant more this year.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

How very helpful this post has been while I pondered my mistakes. Thanks to everyone.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I've just added China Bales Book of Days to my wish list and I am going to be looking for Rosemary Arp. I will have to read this thread again. I am sure there are some posts I need to clip. Thanks all for the information.


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I have read most of the China Bayles mysteries by Ms. Wittig. I love mysteries, especially some of the English mysteries and, of course, any mystery that has something to do with gardening.

I am surprised that you don't grow Oregano, Dawn, with all those tomatos! I love Oregano, Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel (with Fish), Garlic Chives, Chives, Rosemary, Bay Leaves, Winter Savory (better than Summer; good in tomato sauces), and Lemon Grass (great for stir fry). I don't grow all of them all of the time, but usually have a few growing. I always have Fennel, Garlic Chives, Oregano, and Basil growing. Some of those mentioned are annuals in my zone, such as Lemon Grass and Cilantro. Bay is a perennial, but is a very tender plant here that I can keep going indoors over the winter.

Dianthus also has edible flowers, and while I've not tried them, how pretty would they be in a salad? Gorgeous!

Susan


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Susan, I think I've read all of Ms. Wittig's China Bayles mysteries except the most recent one.

I do grow oregano, although I may have failed to mention it in this thread. Because it likes well-drained soil, it usually is not happy in the amended clay in my raised beds, so I tend to grow it in pots. Because clay soil holds so much water for so long, none of the Mediterranean type herbs are happy in our soil. However, Tim and I have broken ground for a new garden plot out west of the barn and in a good portion of that area, the soil is sandy loam. I finally may be able to have a place where plants that need well-drained soil will be happy. I haven't done the soil jar test to see exactly what the composition of the soil is, but in the area that is pretty sandy it looks like it is a blend of sand and silt. The part that doesn't have that sandy/silty soil has soil that ranges from dense red clay marbled with an occasional splotch of whitish-gray clay to a sandy/clay blend similar to what we have in the back yard about 80-100' away.

I hope to have this area amended and to have the raised beds built and the fence finished in time for the planting of warm-season plants. It likely will not be ready in time for cool season plants. All we've done so far is rototill the entire area and put up part of the fencing. It has a long way to go before it will be plantable, but with more pretty and sunshiny winter days in the forecast, I hope to make good progress on it in the next few days.

That area also has gophers, so I guess the war is on. Still, I'm excited to have soil that will drain well enough that I can plant sand-loving herbs, flowers and veggies, even if it means waging war on the gophers. After I rototilled up all their little mounds, they left and built new mounds just outside the tilled area, so I need to do some more things to send them fleeing farther away.

We do have a little band of sandy/silty soil at the west end of the big garden where I used to grow sweet potatoes, but it has become too shady for much of anything now so I've desperately needed an area with well-drained sandy soil in sunlight as opposed to shade. With us already being in Extreme Drought before planting season even arrives, it probably isn't a good year to start a new garden plot in a new area, but I did it anyway. I'm thinking that if I wait for the weather to return to normal rainfall before making any new garden areas, I might be waiting forever.

Dawn


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Dawn, I am glad to hear you are expanding your growing area. I am also planning to expand a little. When Madge and I moved here we planned to only have 200 sq. ft. of growing area for fresh eating. We have expanded every year, we have passed 2000 sq. ft. now and still plan on expanding ( while I am saying we are cutting back).

We have also ordered the book you suggested, Southern Herb Growing, also the book Jo suggested a week or so ago, plus another one. Grow Great Grub I think is the name of the other book.

Larry


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RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

Larry,

My garden started small, and I added to it every year until about 2005 when we started having more persistent drought and our family started spending a lot more time fighting grass fires, brush fires and wild fires. Since then, my expansion efforts have been hit and miss. Every now and then I've added a little more growing space, but I've wanted to add a lot more. This year, I am adding a lot more. I don't know just yet how much more we'll add this year, but the area we just rototilled and fenced adds about 2000 s. f. more. However, that doesn't necessarily mean I will have 2000 s.f. more than before because we are abandoning a lot of the west and north end of the original garden because it has become too shady to grow many veggies.

It might be that if I measured the area we are abandoning to the shade (I will grow shade-loving flowers there and maybe some herbs there), it will just about equal the size of the new gardening area out back.

My expansion plans include another area of about 1200 s.f. north of the garage. It is the worst possible clay in the world and there is no way we'll be able to rototill that very deeply, so we'll likely build above-ground using hay bales to build the outline of the raised beds and filling in the interior like a hugelkulture bed topped off with compost from our big compost pile. Then we'll put down cardboard on the remaining area around the two long raised beds and cover it with spoiled hay and chopped/shredded leaves. If we don't have too much rain the next couple of days, this is the area where we'll be working this week. I've always let my pumpkins and winter squash roam and ramble throughout the entire garden which makes it hard to harvest the other stuff at times because the vines are everywhere, so I'm looking forward to being able to let the pumpkins and winter squash roam and ramble without having the vines bury the rest of the garden. If the vines grow outside the fence, I am sure the deer will prune them back as they do when the vines escape the big garden.

Then there's the lily pond......which sits right outside the sunporch, in between the house and the detached barn-style garage. You walk right past the lily pond as you go back and forth from the garage to the house to the dog yard. I love my lily pond, but ever since we started having more persistent and long-lasting droughts, it has been hard to enjoy it because once the creeks and ponds dry up, the water moccasins move to the pond. We never had water moccasins in the pond regularly until the drought of 2008-09, but we've had them for part of every year since then. For the last couple of years we've contemplated taking out the pond. After one-too-many close encounters with a water moccasin being a foot or two from a human being, dog or cat, we've decided to fill in the pond this spring. I'll miss having the little fish, frogs and turtles there close to the house, but I sure won't miss the water moccasins. We can't fill it in until enough rain falls that our one remaining pond that still holds water has enough in it for us to move the fish and the water lilies there. Once that happens, we'll fill in the lily pond and plant some sort of a garden with raised beds on top of it. It might be a garden of strictly ornamental plants, or it might be a small potager filled with herbs, flowers and just a few veggies....likely a couple of tomato plants, peppers, and some greens.

If we get all this done this spring, that will give me three new growing areas to make up for the northern and northwestern edges of the current big garden where the shade from the adjacent woodland is taking over.

Then, there's two more areas I want to develop into new gardening areas, and I also want to do something to change the Peter Rabbit Garden. Maybe I'll take it out completely. It sits directly north of an adjacent cow pasture and is a snake and bug haven throughout the warm season. I've always worried the neighbor's cows will reach through the barbed wire fence and eat the Peter Rabbit Garden's plants, though they never have. In its early years, the Peter Rabbit Garden didn't have those issues with snakes and tons of bugs migrating into it, but as the droughts have worsened, all the wild things have, naturally, flocked to any area still green and moist.

This is a year of many changes on our property, and it sounds foolish to be making all these plans and new areas when we are in Extreme Drought, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

I always say I'm cutting back, I'm simplifying things, etc. but I rarely do it. I also would like to plant a lot more fruit trees and grow more than just peaches, plums and figs. I now have my eye on a new area south of the new garden we're building. I haven't checked its soil yet, but it looks like it might have some fairly decent soil there. We could fence it off and plant a small orchard there.

For the last few years I've put a lot of gardening plans on hold because of persistent drought. I've been waiting for better weather. Well, I don't know that we'll ever have better weather, so I'm just going to go on and expand and do the best I can with whatever weather we get.

Dawn


 o
RE: planning an herb garden - help please?

I took a store-bought sprig of rosemary and placed it in a small glass of water. It has done well in the kitchen window sill with partial shade. The roots are fairly long. I'm terrified to pot it lest I kill it.

Prior experience tells me it's very finicky. I think prior rosemary plants were kept in soil that didn't drain sufficiently.

I really need to pot that bugger. Perhaps I'll take a sprig from it and place that in a glass jar lest I kill this one. lol

Love this post. I think I'll start some cilantro, too.


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