Herbs – they make food taste better so they have to be great. They also look nice to grow and you get the satisfaction of contributing to what you eat. The are so many different herbs that you can grow.
I won’t be talking about all the possible herb plants that you can grow or buy but I will look at some of the ones that I use and which I believe are worth investing in if you want to start growing herbs.
Of all the herbs for cooking, basil is my favorite, however I can’t say that it is my favourite to grow, as I can normally only keep a basil plant that I buy alive for approximately a week. I am shortly going to try growing basil from seeds. I believe it may be the way basil plants are kept in grocery stores, etc that make it difficult to keep alive when you take it home. I will provide an update once I start to grow the basil from seeds.
Basil is from the Lamiaceae family – it’s scientific name Ocimum basilicum. It has a fresh, yet spicy taste and smell. I consider it to be one of the most sensitive herbs – it is a tender annual. It is extremely sensitive to cold so if you have it outside, I would recommend taking it inside if frost or very cold weather is expected.
There are a number if different types of basil:
- Mediterranean which is a sweet basil with lighter green leaves.
- Asian basil have larger leaves with pink flowers and in contract, purple/pink leaves.
- Thai basil which has narrow, pointed, light leaves with a sweeter taste.
Basil is a great container plant. It needs well-drained soil in a warm environment or sunny area. From my research, basil is easy to grow from seed and should be planted approximately six to seven weeks before the last frost. Basil can also be propagated but placing a basil cutting in water. Cut section of approximately 4 inches and place in a glass of water – you should expect roots to form within a week. Once the root system has established, you can transplant it into your garden or container. Basil plants should be watered once the soil is dry to touch.
Basil can vary in height from 12 inches to 24 inches. If you have a smaller area and have to plant basil in containers, then spicy globe basil is the variety for you. It grows to a much smaller, rounder plant than other varieties. Basil can be planted with other plants – if you want to create a herb container, basil and parsley make good companions. Basil can be picked as you require – pick the larger leaves and allow the smaller leaves to grow.
Rosemary in contrast to basil is much easier to care for – it requires well-drained soil with sufficient sunlight (six to eight hours – although I have a large rosemary plant that has survived a winter with much less sunlight). Rosemary likes warm environments. If you live in an area that gets very cold weather, below -1C, then I would recommend planting rosemary in contains, which can be taken inside when required.
Trimming Rosemary makes the plant bushier, something that I have neglected to do so have a taller, lighter plant. I am going to trim my rosemary bush this week to ensure that it grows more over the summer months. No more than one third of the plant should be trimmed at each time.
Rosemary can be propagated from cuttings, by cuttings from the existing plants. The stem should be cut approximately two inches long and then leave one third of the top of the cutting with leaves, remove the rest. Place the cutting in a well draining soil and water lightly until roots form. Rosemary can be repotted once a year.
Thyme is an attractive herb with long lasting flowers. It is also a compact place and therefore good for container planting if you have a small area to grow plants.
There are a number if different types of Thyme:
- Thymis serpyllum is a ground cover thyme.
- Golden-scented Thyme has a lemon scent and lavender coloured flowers.
- Garden Thyme is the original thyme we are used to using for its flavour for cooling.
Thyme can be grown in a rocky, sparce area and therefore needs free draining soil. As a Mediterranean plant, thyme similar to Rosemary, requires full sun. Thyme should be watered once the soil is dry to touch. It is recommended that Thyme should be mulched to prevent is being affected by frost.
Thyme can be propagated from cuttings. It is advised to do this should be completed every three to four years as the plant starts to deteriorate and produce less leaves at this point.
When propagating thyme is can be propagated from seeds, cuttings (as mentioned above) and dividing the roots. Dividing the roots is considered the easiest method for Thyme. To divide the roots, dig up the plant, divide the roots by removing the soil and splitting into three to four parts. These division can then be planted into the ground or planted in pots for container gardening.
Mint in contrast to other herbs is very east to maintain. Mint is a perennial plant. It needs deep moist soil, with partial shade. Mint needs to be water frequently. It also spreads very quickly both above ground and just below the surface. Mint can become very invasive and therefore makes a good container plant as it can be controlled.
Mint can be harvest at any size. In order to have a bushier plant, before blooming, cut the plant and it will promote increased growth. It is typical for mint to have three harvests per season. Mint needs to be water frequently
Mint can be propagated from seeds and root division. The root division is completed in a similar process to Thyme, outlined above.
Due to the strong scene from mint, there are normally a natural repellent from plants.
Happy herb growing!!