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     Creating a herb garden                             

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Why not create your own herb garden. And carry on a tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation since the dawn of time? Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, and if you are a novice to gardening, they teach you a lot.
 Where to site your herb garden?

The sunniest part of your garden. Perhaps near the place where you like to sit in the summer, or a sunny border, which gets sun for most of the day.  Herbs like an open, sunny but sheltered site, with neutral to alkaline soil, with good drainage. Most of the common herbs like lavender, thyme, rosemary, sage, winter savoury and marjoram are native to the Mediterranean, so they like similar conditions to those they originated in.

If you have clay soil, the best thing to do is roughly digging over the soil in autumn, and leave the clods to be broken down by frost over the winter.  This works by the rough soil being exposed to the wet weather, and soaked by water, and when the frosts come, the clods expand, and break down.  My garden is heavy clay soil, and it really does work that way!   Then in early spring - and this goes for sandy, chalky or silt soil as well - dig through plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted garden or mushroom compost. This will provide the free-draining and fertile bed your herbs will love.  You will not need to feed or fertilize your herbs, as they will then produce lots of soft, lush growth, but no flavour, or aroma, and no resistance to frost.

The planning for your herb garden is only limited by the size of your plot, and your imagination.  What would you like to grow?  And how big will it get??
When you buy herbs in pots from a garden centre, on the label it will tell you how tall, and wide your plant will get.  Often, packets of seeds will give you the same information.  When planning your garden, you will need to take into account the eventual size of your plants.  For instance, if you are planning an island border in your lawn, the tallest herbs go in the centre, and the lower-growing ones on the outside.  For example, angelica grows to over 6 feet, so you would not like to have it near the front of your border.  For a garden in an established border, the tallest plants go to the back near the fence, and the lower ones in the front.
The selection of different varieties of herbs is enough to make your head spin!  For instance, there are more than 40 varieties of thyme, from the silver leafed T. Silver Posie, to the golden   and green leafed T. Bertram Anderson.  Purple sage, Tricolour sage…. the list is endless.  You don't need all varieties of one herb, but with a minimum of effort, you can end up with a fragrant, beautiful part of your garden, with colours ranging from cream to glossy green, to silver, and all shades of pink to deep purple.
 Herbs in containers
If your space is limited, herbs do wonderfully well in containers.  Use good multi-purpose compost, and make sure the containers have good drainage.  You must make sure the containers are kept well watered, as they tend to dry out a lot quicker than if they are planted in the ground.  A wooden barrel planted with parsley, trailing thyme, chives, sage, basil, coriander, tarragon, and with French lavender planted in the center looks very effective, and on a balcony or patio outside your back door is very handy for access to your herbs on rainy days! You could even put a selection of herbs in a hanging basket.  Parsley, chives, thyme, coriander, with creeping rosemary, and basil will all be suitable.  However, some herbs are invasive, so you must be careful what you put in your containers, as they can take over.  For instance, mint is very invasive, and is best kept out of the garden, and put in a container of it's own.  
 Herbs in a Hanging basket
Perhaps in its own hanging basket.  It throws out growth from its roots, and you may find a patch of mint making an appearance in your lawn!  If you want to put mint in your garden, set it in a pot in the ground, or a large bucket with the bottom taken off.  In my experience, it is a lot easier to give mint its own pot, and then you have no worries about a surprise patch of mint suddenly appearing amongst the busy lizzies in the next border!  And they won't like that at all…. they like all the attention to themselves!!!

A selection of different sized pots, planted with herbs looks lovely grouped together.  Lavender in the largest pot, marjoram or oregano in the second pot, mint in the third, and trailing thyme in the smallest.  Matching pots, or pots painted in colours to compliment their occupants looks very cool.  Strawberry pots planted with lavender or chives on the top, and other herbs peeking out of the holes are also very effective, and handy for small spaces, or for quick access near your kitchen door.

Using your herbs>>              History & uses of herbs>>


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