Herbs are a great group of plants to grow as they are not only very attractive in the garden but also lend themselves to culinary and craft activities. Nurseries are now supplying us with a vast choice of herbs to grow, and like any other group of plants some are easier to grow than others. The beauty of growing herbs is that you need not have a large garden space to be successful, herbs grow very well in pots for small and balcony gardens.
Before selecting which herbs to try do a little research on their requirements to make sure you can accommodate them. As many are heavy self seeders, also decide if this will become a problem for you and your style of gardening before introducing them into your garden.
The following herbs are pretty much no fail, and are great to grow if you are just getting started in the world of growing herbs. They are attractive, many are fragrant and all are useful.
Lavender is a great favourite and requires a well drained soil, full sun and should be kept on the dry side. English lavender is hardy to zone 5 and other lavenders are even more tender so for many gardeners it will be treated as an annual. Right after the blooms open cut the stems and hang upside down to dry. You can use your lavender in sachets,soap making and for baking.
Mint is a rapid grower and should be confined to a pot. There are many different types of mint available from the nursery and all make excellent teas. Mints are a perennial and will usually winter over if grown directly in the ground, they may not if grown in a pot. You can pick your leaves as needed or harvest stems and let dry. Crumble the dried leaves and store in airtight containers or freeze for later uses in the kitchen.
Basil will be treated as an annual for northern gardeners. Plant in full sun and pinch leaves regularly to keep your plants nice and bushy. Pinch off leaves as needed and before frost arrives harvest and dry for storage. Basil has many uses in seasoning foods and oils.
Chives are a hardy bulb with very attractive light purple flowers in early summer attracting bees and butterflies. Cut the green stems and chop for cooking. Chives freeze well in plastic bags for winter use.
Parsley may over winter depending where you garden. Butterflies are very much attracted to parsley. Keep your parsley plants well trimmed to prevent them from going to seed. Parsley is extremely healthy and has numerous culinary possibilities. Parsley prefers a decent soil in full to part sun.
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