Archive | Herbs

Herb Gardening for Kids

Gardening is a great educational experience for children, and herb gardening is especially good for kids, because most herbs are very easy to grow. They generally require very little maintenance, and can survive through a little abuse and neglect.

Nature is a favorite subject for many children. They love to learn and explore topics that have to do with nature, so gardening is a very good learning experience that they’ll actually enjoy. They will be really excited to know that they’re growing something they can actually eat later!

Your children may not even know about all of the wonderful herbs that are out there, so it’s great to teach them about all of the different types. They can learn what each herb looks like when it’s fresh, what the herbs smell like, and the different uses for each type.

Don’t overwhelm your child. Children should start out with very small herb gardens. Just three to five plants is probably enough to get started. You want the herb garden to be a fun learning experience for the child, not a back-breaking chore!

You might want to start kids out with a “pizza garden.” You’ll help your child grow some of the herbs that are commonly used on pizza. Since children really love pizza, they should be able to relate to this type of garden very well. They’ll also have fun knowing what goes into one of their favorite foods.

A typical “pizza garden” will contain basil and oregano, and perhaps thyme and parsley. You could also let the child grow some of the other things that often go into pizza sauce, like garlic and roma tomatoes. If you want to make the garden larger by helping, you can also add some common pizza toppings like peppers and onions.

Children will also enjoy growing specially-scented herbs. You can get all kinds of excellent herbs that smell like different scents. Flowers can also go well in this type of garden. For example, there are geraniums that are scented like orange, strawberry, lime, and apricot!

Different types of mint are also favorites with children, and they often enjoy chewing the leaves of plants like spearmint. Just be sure to tell your children they should never eat any plant without asking you first!

You can also use herb gardening as a way of teaching children about the differences between varieties of the same type of plant. For example, planting several different varieties of basil can help kids understand that there can be many types of the same animal or plant.

You could plant globe basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, and purple basil. Your child can learn the difference and similarities, so they can see that things can be similar, yet very different. An herb garden is a very good way to teach children responsibility.

They’ll learn that they have to take care of their garden on a regular basis. If they don’t, they’ll see that there are consequences to shirking duties. When some of their plants start to wither and die, they’ll see how important it is to keep up with their tasks.

Perhaps most importantly, herb gardens can give kids something to be proud of. They’ll get a big boost to their self-esteem when they successfully grow something that you’re able to use in a meal, and they’ll enjoy learning!

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Herb Gardening Tips

Herb gardening is a popular hobby for those who want to grow plants in a small area. They’re pretty much the easiest things to grow and can be a rewarding hobby for gardening enthusiasts.

An herb garden can be grown in a planter hung outside of your window if you happen to live in an apartment building where growing a large garden is prohibited.
To start your own herb garden, you’ll need to decide which kind you want to grow.

There are herbs that are used in cooking, herbs that are grown for their aromatic scents, ornamental herbs to beautify a room and the medicinal types of herbs. You’ll want to research the different types of herbs you could grow.

Each herb is different and requires different means of care and they can grow at different times as others. Some are grown perennially while others will grow biennially. Some may need more sun than others, so study up and be informed before planting your herb garden.

Some of the herbs used for cooking seem to do better when started indoors and then taken outside. Use a spacious pot and make sure there’s ample soil in it. Use fertilized soil because this gives them the extra nutrients they need to help them grow healthy.

Should you grow your plants from seeds, make sure you read the package that the seeds come in. There will be specific instructions you need to follow to grow your garden.

Those instructions are there for a reason, so if you want healthy herb plants, take care of them according to the seed packet instructions. If you’re using seeds to start your garden, make sure you move them to ample sunlight when the seedlings appear.

Most herbs will require humidity, so you may need to spray water in the area around the seedlings, using a spray bottle. Don’t use a hose or spray the seedlings directly. They’re fragile at this stage.

When the seedlings grow heartier and their leaves grow too close to another herb plant, make sure you trim those leaves back and keep the space between the plants to ensure all receive the proper nutrients they need to grow.

Prepare the herb plants before transplanting them outside. They may not thrive with a drastic change in temperature. Take the pot outdoors for a little while a few times a day and then increase the time they’re outside for a few days before transplanting them outside permanently.

Herb plants are easy to take care of and there’s very little insect problems to worry about. Beginners as well as advanced gardeners can benefit from this hobby of growing herbs – especially if you personally use the herbs that you work so hard to grow.

With proper care and a little patience, you can grow your own herb garden no matter what your living conditions are. Your herbs will take some time to grow, so just enjoy the benefits your herb garden contributes to your life.

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Planning Your Herb Garden

If you’re anything like the average herb gardener, it can be mind-boggling looking through seed catalogs and trying to choose just a few varieties to plant. There are so many types of herbs to plant – you’re probably tempted to plant almost all of them! But most of us don’t have the space to plant that many, or the time or energy to care for them all.

There are three basic types of herbs ? herbaceous, evergreen, and annual. The type of herb will depend on how it grows, what type of plant it is, and its habits. Herbaceous herbs are perennial. They die back during the winter, but some back again in the spring.

Some common herbs of this type include oregano, tarragon, bee balm, mint, chives, sweet fennel, and winter savory. They don’t need to be pruned; you just clip them off at ground level at the end of the season.

They can even be mowed down with a mower. Always be careful with mint. It spreads quickly, and can take over an entire garden if you let it. Evergreen herbs are perennial herbs that require pruning if you don’t harvest them regularly.

They should be pruned every fall or early in the spring. Evergreen herbs include sage, rosemary, and thyme. When you prune, you should only clip those branches that are old and don’t show any signs of new growth. Any that are broken or lying on other branches should also be pruned.

When you harvest evergreen herbs, you should be careful to cut only one section of leaves at a time, and only cut it back to where new growth is still showing. You don’t want to cut too much, or you could discourage new growth.

Annual herbs include basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, and chervil. They must be planted again every year, because they won’t come back after they die. If you want a continual harvest of annual herbs, you have to keep planting them every four to six weeks during the season.

You should try to snip off any flower buds you see on annual herb plants, because after a plant flowers, it usually won’t continue to produce leaves. After they flower, they go to seed, at which point they’re not really useful for producing leaves for your kitchen anymore.

When planning which types of herbs you wish to plant, you should choose only those varieties which you believe you’ll actually use in cooking. It will probably be very tempting to plant at least one of every type of herb you see, but it’s not practical.

Plant those herbs which you know you’ll really use. And keep in mind that some herbs are considered better when dried. Sage, for example, is an herb that many people prefer the flavor of when dried.

It’s probably better to just purchase those herbs which you already know you like to use fresh, as well as perhaps one or two you’ve never tried before just to test out. Be careful not to plant too many types that you can’t take care of them all.

Although herbs don’t generally require a lot of care and maintenance, they will need a bit of work. Don’t plant twenty different varieties if you realistically only have time to care for five or ten!

Finally, be sure to check the zones that various herbs do well in. If your favorite herb doesn’t do well in your zone, you should probably skip it, or at least grow it indoors in a container. There isn’t much use planting an herb if it will likely die before it’s harvested.

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Growing Herbs Organically

Herbs are generally very easy to grow organically. As long as you provide very good soil, growing herbs organically will usually be very easy. You can plant hers indoors or outdoors, in the garden or in containers.

You’ll want to start with excellent potting soil. Choose a well-draining potting soil that is very rich in organic material. Using a great organic compost mix is a very good start for your herbs if you’re going to grow them in containers. If not, you can mix it with existing soil to enrich and enliven it.

The healthier the soil is, the better able your herbs will be at fighting off diseases and fending off insect attacks. Quality soil is crucial, and it’s one place you should never skimp on, even if you aren’t gardening organically.

Next, be sure to plant your herbs in the right spot. Many herbs need full sun, but a few can tolerate partial shade. Some even prefer it to be a bit shady. So you need to make certain you’re planting your herbs in a spot where they’ll be happiest.

It’s important to be sure you’re selecting herbs that will grow in the zone in which you live. Find out which hardiness zone you live in and be sure to select only varieties that are hardy where you live. Otherwise you could be wasting your time growing herbs that won’t survive.

Choose very high-quality seedlings if you’re buying your herb plants. If you choose to start your own seedlings, be sure to thin them carefully so they don’t choke each other out. Seedlings should be thick and dark, not spindly and pale.

You can use mulch to control weeds. Simply use a good organic mulch to cover the top of the soil to prevent weeds from peeking up through the ground. It will also help keep moisture in the soil, and will help keep the soil an even temperature.

You can control pests with the use or organic pesticides and companion planting. There are many types of plants that go well together to help deter common pests. Garlic and marigolds are two plants that are often used with other plants to discourage insects.

There are also many organic pesticides available that you can use to help control insects. Some of them simply make your plants inhospitable to insects, and others can actually kill them. You should choose varieties of herbs that are disease-resistant and pest-resistant, if possible.

Although these plants may still have problems, they don’t typically have as many problems as their standard counterparts. This is especially important when you intend to not use a lot of chemical treatments to control problems.

Rotate your plantings each year. Move your herb garden to different spots of your yard if you can. Also, rotate the varieties of the herbs you grow. If you grow purple basil one year, you might grow Thai basil the next year.

This helps prevent pests from learning where your garden is, and where they can find the tastiest plants each year. If you keep rotating your plantings, you’ll be able to discourage some pests.

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Easy Herbs for Beginning Herb Gardeners

Beginning herb gardeners may worry about which types of herbs they should grow. There are many different herbs available, and some are more difficult to grow than others. There are a few types of herbs that are especially easy to grow for beginners. These are generally more hardy plants that don’t require a lot of fertilizer or special work.

Parsley ? Parsley is a relatively hardy annual in zones 2-11. Both flat-leaf and curly varieties are easy to care for and grow very well without a lot of extra care. It can do well in full sun to light shade, and needs rich soil that is well-drained but moist. It doesn’t do particularly well in heat.

Cilantro ? Also known as coriander – this annual herb doesn’t need exceptionally rich soil, and isn’t extremely particular about sun and shade. It can do well in full sun or light shade. It is relatively easy to care for, and does well in almost all zones.

Chives ? Chives are a perennial herb. Chives can grow well in almost any soil, and almost any conditions. Chives have been known to be seen growing in old gardens that haven’t been tended in many years! It’s hardy in zones 3-9, and prefers full sun. It does do better in rich soils, but doesn’t need it to survive. Chives have a rich, oniony flavor, and they taste great on baked potatoes.

Oregano ? This herb is an extremely popular herb, and it goes well with many different types of foods. It is commonly used in tomato-based pasta dishes, chicken dishes, and pork dishes. Hard in zones 5-9, oregano does well in raised beds, rock gardens, alongside roads or pathways, or just about anywhere! It needs full sun and well-drained soil, but it actually does better in poor, rocky soil!

Thyme ? Thyme is a perennial herb. It is hardy in zones 4-6. It’s a small, shrub-like herb that requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It is quite hardy in its standard zones, and doesn’t require much care at all.

Basil ? Basil in a warm-weather annual herb. It is hardy in most zones, but it requires hot, dry conditions to reach peak flavor. It needs full sun, and very rich, moist soil. The only major issues with growing basil are slugs and cool conditions. As long as basil has enough light and heat, and its soil is allowed to dry out between waterings, it usually requires little additional care.

Bay ? Although it is a type of shrub, this is actually a very good herb for beginners to grow. It’s hardy in zones 8-11, and is remarkably hardy in those zones. It needs full sun to light shade, and rich, well-drained soil. It will tolerate variations in conditions rather well. Just remember, bay leaves reach their full flavor when dry, so be sure to press them between layers of paper towels inside heavy books for a few weeks before you use them.

Remember to be careful about the zones. Although many of these herbs are hardy, they do much better when kept to their hardiness zones. As long as you grow them in the zones in which they do best, most of these herbs will be very easy to care for, and shouldn’t need a whole lot of extra work to take care of them.

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Benefits of Growing Your Own Herbs

Growing your own herbs has many benefits. You’ll quickly learn just how great it is to grow your own herbs once you start reaping the rewards of your harvest. Most people who grow a few herbs never want to stop, and their herb gardens only seem to expand every year!

One major benefit of growing your own herbs is saving money. Fresh herbs can be ridiculously expensive, with a single small container of fresh herbs sometimes costing $3 to $5 in many supermarkets!

For just a dollar or so, you can buy a big packet of seeds that can grow many plants, and can keep producing for quite a while. Even when you factor in costs such as tools, fertilizer, and other garden expenses, you should still save a great deal of money if you use fresh herbs often.

Herb gardening is also very relaxing. Many people find that it really helps them reduce stress and unwind. All types of gardening can relieve stress, but herb gardening combines the stress-relieving effects of gardening with the natural stress-relief of aromatherapy!

Many herbs are very easy to grow. A lot of herbs will grow almost anywhere, and require very little maintenance. Herbs can be grown in almost any garden location, and even in containers where they can be moved around at will. The fact that herbs can easily be located almost anywhere makes them a very good subject for most gardeners.

Herbs can be used as part of your landscape design, as well. Because of the fact that they are generally very attractive, they look perfectly at home in their own garden, tucked among flowers, or even used as ornamental plants along walkways, by porches or steps, or anywhere you need a bit of an accent.

They’re great at jazzing up bland dinners. If your family has been complaining that your cooking is becoming boring, try adding some fresh herbs to your food! Once your family has tried spaghetti made with fresh basil, they may never want the stuff in a jar again!

Fresh herbs are also a very good source of additional nutritional value. Sure, they taste great and can make a wonderful garnish for all sorts of dishes, but they’re also good for you! Some herbs contain decent levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fresh herbs are very good for adding that extra bit of nutrition to your meals.

An attractive herb garden can also increase the value of your home if you decide to sell it. A lot of people have always wanted to have their own garden, and having a lovely herb garden waiting for them could be a big selling point.

Growing your own herbs will also mean you can get varieties that you can’t find locally. Most people are able to find fresh chives and standard basil locally, but can you find garlic chives, purple basil, or fresh chervil in your local grocery store? Most people can’t, and the only way they can experience these exotic herbs is to grow them.

Plus, growing herbs can also make you more popular. A lot of people really love fresh herbs, and if you neighbors hear you’re growing them, they might stop by and ask for some! Your friends and family will be delighted to be given fresh herbs as a gift, and they’ll be wanting to hang around you for more handouts as often as they can!

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