Illustrated Plan for a Colorful Herb Garden – Mother Earth News
A herb garden can be a very pleasant and useful addition to any yard. Artwork by John Peterson
Aromatic plants will please the nose as much as the eyes. This beautiful herb garden design incorporates foliage of varying colors and textures to produce a visually appealing and fragrant display. The focal point of this design is rosemary planted in a pretty container. Containers of spearmint and peppermint flank the rosemary, adding height to the garden while preventing these plants from overgrowing.
Weeds are kept to a minimum and the soil is protected with fragrant, low ground covers including curly parsley, lemon thyme, golden sage and variegated oregano. This pretty herb garden is not only very beautiful and fragrant, but also very easy to maintain – even a gardening beginner can take care of it.
Here are the plants and their positions in the herb garden. Artwork by John Peterson
List of plants
Herb garden plan diagram. Artwork by Michael Feldmann
- A 4 curly parsley (Petroselinum crispum) Annual
- B 3 Variegated Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Variegata‘) Areas 5–9
- C 1 Spearmint (Spicata mint) Zones 3 to 11
- D 1 Variegated Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Areas 5 to 11
- E 2 Golden Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Aurea’) Areas 6 to 9
- F 2 Variegated oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Variegatum’) Zones 4 to 9
- G 1 Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Zones 4 to 8
- H 4 Purple basil (Ocimum basilicum purpurescens) Annual
- I 2 ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ Basil (Ocimum x citriodore) Annual
- D 2 Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’‘) Areas 4–9
- K 2 Dill (Anethum graveolens) Zones 2 to 11
- L 1 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinale) Areas 8 to 11
Planting and maintenance
Herbs bring beauty and fragrance to the garden and abundant flavor to your kitchen. Most herbs are easy to grow and, once planted, require little care beyond watering and harvesting. So if you’re just starting out with an edible garden, herbs are a great place to start. Here are some simple tips for caring for these almost carefree, beautiful and tasty plants.
Before you start
Preparation is the key to developing a garden that will provide enjoyment for a lifetime. Before you go to the nursery to buy plants, you need to consider what plants can grow in your area, can they grow in your soil, do you have enough space, do you have enough sunlight and many more .
Choose the right location
Most of the herbs I’ve included in this garden plan are very easy to care for and only need a few things: enough sun, well-drained soil, enough space, and the right USDA zones. This means that when deciding where to place your herb garden, you should look for a location that receives six or more hours of sunlight per day, well-drained soil, and enough space for your herb garden.
Many people think of convenience when deciding where to start an herb garden. Planting near the kitchen or home can make it easier to harvest herbs from the herb garden.
Prepare the ground
After deciding where to start your herb garden, you will need to prepare the soil. Add plenty of compost if your soil is sandy or clayey. Even if your soil is in good condition, incorporating a little compost into the soil will provide your herbs with nutrients as they grow.
Plant your herbs
Keep all your plants in their pots and place them on the planting bed if you have any on hand. This will give you an idea of how the bed will look and encourage you to make changes before digging any holes.
Place your plants in the ground at the same level they were in the pot. Tamp the soil around each plant with your hands, then water it thoroughly. The distance between grasses varies by plant; generally leave enough space between plants so they all have room to grow and thrive.
Once all the herbs have been planted and watered thoroughly, you should next mulch your plants. Shredded leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and straw are great mulch options for herb gardens. Apply mulch properly to suppress weeds, conserve soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.
Caring for your new herb garden is very easy. The only thing you need to do is proper watering, some fertilization, mulching, picking up weeds if there are any, pruning and harvesting.
Most herbs grow best in well-drained soil and create their most intense flavor when kept dry. Their water needs are determined by the type of soil, weather conditions, and the type of your plants. Plants in sandy soils, for example, require more regular watering than those in clay soils.
Keep in mind that plants use more water when the weather is hot, windy, and low humidity than when it’s cold, humid, and cloudy. Apply enough water to moisten the root zone at least 6 inches deep during watering. Water can be applied efficiently using soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems: they avoid wasting water by watering only the roots of the plants, and it also prevents many diseases by keeping the foliage dry.
Herbs that receive lots of nutrients, especially nitrogen, grow slowly and have little flavor or fragrance. Therefore, do not over-fertilize your plants. Manufactured fertilizers with controlled release and organic fertilizers that break down slowly are less likely to supply excess nutrients at once. To determine how much fertilizer to apply, follow soil test recommendations or label instructions.
Mulching and weed control
Mulch to prevent weeds from growing in your herb garden. Wood chips, straw or pine needles are good organic mulches to use. Apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch around your herbs, but keep it away from the crown of the plant. Mulch smothers weeds, prevents most weed seeds from germinating, and makes it easier to pull out those that do germinate. Mulch also helps preserve moisture, so you’ll need to water less often!
Pruning and harvesting
When you prune and harvest your herbs often, they seem to grow better. Pruning keeps plants from overgrowing their space. You can harvest or prune your herbs at any time until they begin to bloom. Herbs grown for seeds or, such as cilantro or chamomile, should be harvested after the seeds have dried on the plant or when the flowers are about to fully bloom. Cutting grasses with clean tools reduces the risk of disease and keeps your grasses healthy and productive.
Michael Feldman is a farmer and writer from Oklahoma, who studies agriculture and has worked as a reporter for magazines and newspapers across the country. His writing has appeared in Acres USA, Rural Heritage, Farming magazine, Farmers Weekly, Permaculture magazine, NEWS FROM MOTHER EARTH, and as a column in Poultry World. Read all about Michael MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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