FIVE TIPS TO CULTIVATE YOUR OWN HERB GARDEN
Nothing feels more satisfying and healthy than tossing freshly picked basil leaves into your pasta, or perhaps a few oregano sprigs into your chicken dish. Fresh herbs not only give your cooking a tasty flavour boost, but also improve overall air quality. Try these simple steps to grow your own herb garden
Allocate some space
Whether it’s pots on the balcony, a patch in the back yard, or small jars in your bedroom, herbs can grow just about anywhere, both indoors and outdoors. When choosing a pot to plant herbs, materials such as clay, wood, resin or metal are great choices, so long as they provide proper drainage. Mason jars, for example, are not suitable options for growing herbs because they do not allow excess water to seep out.
Choose your plant
Select your herbs based on the size of the space, sun or shade exposure and drainage levels. To save time, it’s best to stick to starter plants as opposed to seeds, which require more care and cultivation. As a rule of thumb, any spot with six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day is perfect for herb growing. If sunlit areas are limited, choose herbs that can thrive with less sun exposure, such as chives, parsley, cilantro and tarragon.
Be strategic about soil
If growing in a container, the best approach is to use potting soil as opposed to garden soil. Potting soil is lighter and more porous, containing higher nutrients and a better drainage capacity. Potting soil comes in different types so be sure to select the best variety suited to your herbs. For example, drought-resistant Mediterranean herbs prefer chalky, well-drained soils. While parsley and chervil, on the other hand, prefer damp and well-fertilised soil types.
Strategically plant your herbs
Just like people, herbs don’t get along with everyone. Basil, for example, is the ultimate socialite and harmoniser. As a natural insect repellant, basil makes for a great companion when grown alongside parsley, rosemary, oregano, and chili. With aggressive growing herbs, such as mint or oregano, it is best to give them their own pots as they can invade their neighbours. Cilantro is another easy-going herb and pairs well with a variety of plants, with the exception of fennel. Cilantro and fennel are highly competitive herbs when planted next to each other and can result in both plants shrivelling up and dying.
Herbs require consistent and scheduled watering, with allotted drying periods in between each spell. Frequent harvesting and pruning are also beneficial to the herbs, allowing them to grow faster and healthier. For more gardening inspiration, click here to learn expert tips to design your herb garden like a pro.
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