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Planting


Herbs grow well in many parts of the world and many will grow well in Texas. Most are adapted to a wide variation of soil and climatic conditions.

Location of the herb garden. Plan the garden location with two things in mind. It should be convenient to the kitchen and have good growing conditions, including full sun (or nearly so), well drained soil and moderately fertile soil, and should be free from competition of trees and shrubs. The garden may actually be part of the landscape as in a border, along a flower bed, or in a rock garden. It may even be a formal garden by itself, as was done in colonial times.

Fertility and soils. If soils are well drained and moderately fertile, there should be no problems with most herbs. Soils may be improved best before planting. If needed, compost can be worked into the soil. Also, an organic mulch may be added after planting.

Establishing the herb garden. Establish annual and biennial herbs by planting seeds directly in the garden or starting seeds indoors for later transplanting to the garden. Save seed produced by the herb plants for next year's crop, or obtain seed from your local garden center or seed catalog.

To save your own seed, harvest the entire seedhead after it has dried on the plant. Then allow seeds to dry in a protected location that is cool and dry. After the seeds ar thoroughly dry, thresh the seed from the heads and discard the trash. Store in labeled jars in a dark, cool, dry location.

herb beds

Perennial herbs can be propagated by cuttings or by division. Divide plants every three or four years in the early spring. Dig up the plants and cut into several sections. You can also cut four to six inch sections of the stem, and root these by placing the cuttings in moist sand in a shady area. In four to eight weeks roots should form on these cuttings. Herbs such as sage, winter savory and thyme can be propagated by cuttings. Chives, lovage and tarragon can be propagated by dividing the roots or crowns. Apple mint forms runners or stems that run along the ground so these can be easily propagated by covering a portion of the runner and allowing it to form roots.

As the garden grows. Care for the herb garden is similar to a vegetable or flower garden. Water as necessary during dry periods. Generally, about one inch of water is needed per week, if not supplied by natural rainfall. A mulch helps conserve soil moisture and reduces weed growth as well. Mints prefer moist soil so they require more frequent watering.

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