Better Herbs: How to Grow Yours With More Flavor

Better Herbs: How to Grow Yours With More Flavor
  • Opening Intro -

    Growing better herbs starts with a better herb garden. It's possible to grow a vibrant year-round assortment of herbs in a small space, such as an apartment balcony accessed through sliding doors, or a backyard patio.

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Having the right, always fresh, herbs changes the grower’s life as old recipes take on new tantalizing flavors. Fresh water, mixed with a sprig of parsley or mint, tastes great and will encourage anyone to drink at least eight glasses a day.

Start With the Soil

Grow better herbs by starting the plants in fresh potting soil. Purchase a large bag or two from the garden center to make sure new plants get the best start. When recycling last year’s soil, make sure to remove dead roots or leaves and give it a scoop of fertilizer and/or compost. (Note: fungus growing in the old soil is probably more than enough reason not to reuse it!) Make sure to aerate the soil often, too, because oxygen must work with the soil to provide nutrients needed by your herb garden to grow. Natural light is a must for new herbs. If you aren’t starting outside, try using South facing vinyl windows from Vancouver to let in the most light.

Start with Herb Seedlings, not Seeds

Yes, it is possible to become completely obsessed with growing herbs from an exotic seed gardener in Ireland and imagining unheard-of-in-these parts herbs like holy ghost (angelica archangelica), flowering Russian sage, or ten of the most exotic basils. But herbs in the garden will grow best during a short outdoor growing season if the plants are soil-ready. Some herbs, like generic lemon basil, are very easy to grow. Remember to harvest leaves from the top and thin out the bottom leaves to make basil plants grow extra tall and lush. Since basil is one of the most gardener-friendly herbs to plant, make sure to add a couple of healthy plants to your first herb garden. Simply chopped basil leaves mixed with extra virgin olive oil make a simple and elegant accompaniment to summer vegetable soup (simmered with lots of herbs from the garden).

Fertilize

Many people, especially organic gardeners, may not immediately understand the reason why fertilizers are so needed by an herb garden. Because herbs, especially those grown in a constrained-space, can only use the nutrients in the soil they’re given, it’s possible to literally take most nutrients needed by the plant from the soil rather quickly. Water-soluble fertilizers give herbs the boost they need every two to three weeks or as needed. Organic substitutes, e.g. coffee grounds, are also great soil helpers.

For your herbs this year, all you need is a few tips and a green thumb. Herbs can take a bit of work to get started, but once they take off, you’ll be good to go. Use your plant tips for the better and use your herbs in your next summer recipe.

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