Herbs To Grow

Dill

Hardiness Zone: Grown as an USDA Hardiness Zone Annual. Cooler zones can grow dill throughout the summer. Zone 9 and above generally grow dill during the winter season. In hot weather, dill may go to seed quickly. Dill can also self-sow readily.

Exposure: Full sun

Mature Size: Varies with variety, from about 18″ to 40″. Spacing varies from about 6-8″ to 12-18″.

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest: You can harvest leaves at any time. Dill generally blooms about 8 weeks after sowing. Once the flowers develop, the plants stop producing foliage.

Planting: Direct sow seeds about the time of your last expected frost date. Plant about 1/4 inch deep. You will probably need to thin your plants, once they reach about 6-8″ high. You can always eat the thinnings. Dill can be started indoors, about 4 – 6 weeks prior to planting outdoors. Don’t wait too long to transplant, since dill has a tap root and will be unhappy in a small pot.
To keep dill producing all summer, you can succession plant every 2 weeks.

Basil

Zone: Tender Annual

Size: Varies with variety. ‘Sweet Basil’ can reach 6′, but grows to about 3′ for most gardeners. There are also short 6″ dwarf varieties, which work especially well in pots.

Exposure: Full Sun

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest: You’ll want to prevent your basil from blooming for as long as possible, by harvesting or pinching off the top sets of leaves as soon as the plant reaches about 6″ in height. If the plant sets flowers, it is on its way to going to seed and will not be bushing out with leaves. Once a basil plant goes to seed, the existing leaves lessen in flavor.

Cultural Notes: Basil is a heat lover. Don’t bother planting it until the daytime temperatures remain in the 70s F. and night temperatures are above 50 degrees F. Seeds can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before last spring frost date. Unlike many Mediterranean herbs, basil likes a somewhat rich soil and doesn’t like to be kept dry. Space plants about 10″ apart. They will bush out. Begin pinching the tops off once the plants reach about 6″ in height. If you don’t pinch or harvest, the plants will grow tall and gangly, with few leaves and will bolt to seed. You can continue harvesting as long as there are leaves left on the plant to keep it going.

Basil is very sensitive to frost and will be one of the first plants to go in the fall. You can extend the season slightly by covering your plants with row covers when frost is threatened. However, if the leaves are touched by a frost covered row cover, that’s enough to likely turn them black.

If you live in a frost free area, you might want to allow some basil plants so set flowers and self-seed in your garden. Not all varieties will do this successfully.

Cilantro

USDA Hardiness Zone:Annual, all zones

Exposure: Full sun, partial sun, shade. Best sown in cooler weather as it tends to go to seed in high heat.

Harvest: For cilantro, harvest the leaves with sharp scissors. If coriander is wanted, let a few of the stems go to seed and then cut the entire flower.

Uses: Cilantro is a common ingredient in Latin and Indian cuisine. To release more of the flavor from the coriander, roast the seeds in a dry, hot pan for a few minutes until you can smell the scent strongly. These seeds are ground in a mortar and pestle or herb grinder before use.

Coriander is easy to grow indoors and out. It is a good idea to have two separate plantings so you can harvest the tender leaves and stems for cilantro and let one patch go to seed for coriander. Coriander likes well drained, rich soil and will bolt and turn bitter if grown at temperatures over 75 degrees, so plant it after frost has passed but enjoy it until the full heat of summer hits.

Chives

USDA Hardiness Zone: Perennial, must be split every few years for best production. Full sun, moist soil

Exposure: Full sun, moist soil

Harvest: Snip leaves at any stage, four to six inches is optimal. When leaves turn yellow, pick them out and harvest more vigorously to keep this at bay. Flowers are edible and delicious in salads as an attractive, edible garnish.

Oregano

USDA Hardiness Zones: Zones: 5-10, depending on variety.Oregano heracleoticum, ‘Greek Oregano’, is hardy in Zones 5-9.

Exposure: Full sun Golden oregano does best in partial shade; its leaves tend to scorch in full sun.

Mature Size: Oregano can reach a height of 30″, but usually grows between 8-12″, especially if you are harvesting regularly. Plants will spread about 18″ and will send out runners.

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest: As with most herbs, oregano leaves taste best before the plant flowers. You can begin harvesting when plants have reached 4-5 inches in height. Cutting stems all the way back to the ground will encourage more stems and a fuller plant. The stems tend to get woody and the easiest way to strip the leaves is to hold the stem by the top, uncut end and run your finger down the stem.

Parsley

Exposure: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Mature Size: Varies with variety:Height: 12 to 18 inches (30 – 45cm).
Width: 9 to 12 inches (22 – 30cm)

Days to Harvest: Seed germinates in 21 – 28 days. Seed grown plants ready to harvest in 12 – 14 weeks.

USDA Hardiness Zones: Biennial

Rosemary

Growing and Caring for Rosemary Plants: The three fundamentals for successfully growing rosemary are: Sun, Good Drainage and Good Air Circulation. If you live in a frost free area, you can grow rosemary in the ground year round. Provide a sandy, well draining soil and 6-8 hours of full sunlight. Rosemary is not a heavy feeder, but fertilizing in spring with a fish/kelp emulsion will get it off to a good start for the season. Periodic foliar sprays with the emulsion will keep it looking great.
Bringing Rosemary Indoors: Where the winter temperatures dip below 30 degrees F., rosemary plants will have to spend the winter indoors. In this case, it’s easier to grow your rosemary in a container all year. Since rosemary likes it on the dry side, terra cotta pots are an especially good choice. Just be sure it doesn’t bake and completely dry out while outdoors during the summer. Bring the potted rosemary inside once the temperature inches into the 30s. It can be a little trickier to keep rosemary happy inside. Your rosemary plant will still require 6-8 hours of full sun, so artificial lights may be necessary. Heat is not as crucial as sunlight.

Sage

Zone:5 – 9

Sun Exposure: Generally Full Sun. Needs some shade in higher Zones.

Mature Size: 1 – 2′ H, 2 -3′ W

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest: Blooms mid-summer. May bloom first year depending on size and site. Allow the plant to grow unharvested for the first year. Then leaves can be harvested at anytime, although they are consider at their best before or just after blooming.

Thyme

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 – 9+

Exposure: Full Sun

Mature Size: Varies with variety. Thyme is generally low growing, spreading, 6 – 10″ in height. Some varieties form an almost flat carpet.

Days to Harvest: Established thyme plants can be harvested at any time. Simply snip a few stems. The blossoms are also edible and are at their best when first opening. Thyme grows slowly from seed and should be allowed a few months of growth, before cutting.

Bay

USDA Hardiness Zones: Hardiness Zones 8 – 10

Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Mature Size: 60 ft. tall, if left unpruned, in the ground.

Bloom Period / Days to Harvest: If unpruned, bay should prune in mid-spring. You can begin harvesting when your tree is several feet tall, but you can always use the pruned leaves in the meantime.

Garlic

When to Plant: Fall is garlic planting time. Depending where you are gardening, this could be September to November. Once the soil temperature has cooled off to about 60 degrees F. , the roots of the garlic clove will start to germinate and begin to take hold and anchor the plant. This is especially important in Northern climates where the ground freezes. Without sufficient time to grow good roots, the garlic plants will heave out of the ground. A three to four inch layer of mulch applied after the ground freezes will also help prevent heaving. Straw is the mulch of choice because it’s cheap and easy to remove.

Growing Conditions: Your garlic should grow well if given the following conditions:

  • Well drained soil
  • Soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0
  • Minimal weed competition
  • Plenty of organic matter
  • An inch of water while the bulb is forming – mid-May to July

Problems: Garlic is relatively pest free, if you use good seed cloves. It is, however, popular with some rodents, especially gophers.

Harvesting: Dig, don’t pull garlic out of the ground. You may have planted a small clove, but the bulb is now several inches deep with a strong root system. When to harvest garlic is a judgment call, but basically it’s ready to go when the lower leaves start to brown. About the only way to be sure is to actually dig a few bulbs and slice them in half. If the cloves fill out the skins, it’s time. Harvesting too soon will result in smaller cloves that don’t store well. Leave the bulbs in the ground too long and the cloves may be bursting out of their skins, making them unstorable and open to disease. If you are experimenting with varieties, Artichokes mature first, then Rocamboles, Purple Stripes, Porcelains, and finally Silverskins

Storing Garlic: Brush off any soil clinging to the bulbs. Allow the bulbs to cure or dry for three to four weeks in either a well-ventilated room or a dry, shady spot outside. Once the tops and roots have dried they can be cut off. You can also further clean the bulbs by removing the outer skins. Just be careful not to expose any of the cloves. Garlic likes to be on the cool side, 32oF – 40oF. The softneck varieties may last 6 – 8 months. Hardnecks should be used soon after harvesting. Hardneck varieties may dry out, sprouting or go soft within 2-4 months. Keeping hardnecks at 32oF sometimes helps them survive for up to 7 months without deteriorating.

What to Plant: Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow. You plant the individual cloves within the bulb. Plant the largest cloves you have, to get the largest bulbs. Plant each garlic clove two to three inches below the soil surface and about 6 inches apart.

Lavender: Recommended Varieties

Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) Zones 5-8
‘Munstead’ An old-fashioned standard with blue-purple flowers. 18″ tall

‘Hidcote’ is favored for its dark purple flowers. 24″ tall

‘Jean Davis’ produces pale pink flower spikes. 18″ tall

L. x intermedia Zones 5-8
‘Provence’ dries particularly well. 30″ tall

‘Grosso’ is highly disease resistant and fragrant. 30″ tall

Growing Requirements: As with most plants, your success in growing this coveted plant will depend both on what kind of growing conditions you can provide and which varieties you select to grow. Lavender plants will tolerate many growing conditions, but it thrives in warm, well-drained soil and full sun. Like many plants grown for their essential oils, a lean soil will encourage a higher concentration of oils. An alkaline and especially chalky soil will enhance lavenders fragrance. While you can grow lavender in USDA Zone 5, it is unlikely you will ever have a lavender hedge. More realistically you can expect to have plants that will do well when the weather cooperates and to experience the occasional loss of a plant or two after a severe winter or a wet, humid summer.

Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established. However, when first starting you lavender plants, don’t be afraid to give them a handful of compost in the planting hole and to keep them regularly watered during their first growing season.

Special Considerations: It is dampness, more than cold, that is responsible for killing lavender plants. Dampness can come in the form of wet roots during the winter months or high humidity in the summer. If humidity is a problem, make sure you have plenty of space between your plants for air flow and always plant in a sunny location. Areas where the ground routinely freezes and thaws throughout the winter will benefit from a layer of mulch applied after the ground initially freezes. Also protect your lavender plants from harsh winter winds. Planting next to a stone or brick wall will provide additional heat and protection.

Pruning: Although lavender plants get regularly pruned simply by harvesting the flowers, to keep them well shaped and to encourage new growth, a bit of spring pruning is in order. The taller varieties can be cut back by approximately one-third their height. Lower growing varieties can either be pruned back by a couple of inches or cut down to new growth. If you live in an area where lavender suffers some winter die-back, don’t even think about pruning your plants until you see some new green growth at the base of the plant. If you disturb the plants too soon in the season, they give up trying.

Info from: http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsatoz/Herbs_A_Z_Growing_Tips_for_Specific_Herb_Plants.htm

 

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