Practical Permaculture – Urban Herb Benefits

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My front yard herb garden, I like to fill all the bare spots with flowering annuals to add interest.

Whether you live in the city or the suburbs… Regardless of your space at hand or garden experience level… You can probably grow herbs…

A common misconception is that herbs are simply spices for your food, Your herbal harvest can serve many purposes depending on what your specific need is. Herbal teas blended from the dry leaves and flowers are easy to prepare, served hot or cold they can be a beneficial and relaxing beverage depending on the contents. You may also wish to research herbal remedies, of which as the name implies herbs are a mainstay.

Your home, too, can benefit from herbs. Follow traditions by fashioning wreaths from herbs that were at one time thought to ward off evil spirits. In the Victorian era people would create what was known as a tussie-mussie, in which each leaf and flower held a special meaning. potpourri is also commonly made from aromatic herbs, they make surprisingly friendly gifts.

Getting started with herbs is not only a fun activity, but an immediately gratifying one as well. Herb gardening can fill many aspects of your life with beauty and pleasure. The rewards can be summarized by an old saying among herbarians: “Herbs leave their fragrance on the hand that gathers them.”

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Another photo of my front yard herb garden. I get frustrated when I see the herbs hidden in the vegetable garden, herbs are beautiful plants and deserve to be featured in the landscape.

If you are new to growing herbs, you will be happy to learn that most are very easy to grow. Many will absolutely flourish with just regular watering, require very little special care, and not only suffer from few pests and diseases; but repels many pests and diseases. Gray-leaved herbs and those filled with aromatic oils come from the Mediterranean area, so they thrive in well-drained soil and hot sun. In fact, most herbs grow best in full sun, but some also tolerate shade. Although many herbs grow reasonably well in poor soil, most prefer average fertility and a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

A few herbs for shady places – Angelica, chervil, chives, costmary, lemon balm, lovage, mint, parsley, sweet cicely, sweet woodruff and tarragon…

When selecting a site for a herb garden, consider how you intend to use the harvest. If you wish to use the herbs for cooking, choose a location close to your kitchen so it will be convenient for snipping a few leaves or sprigs to add to your favorite dishes.

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Herbs can even be grown in close quarters with vegetables.

Herbs, like most other flowering plants, may be divided into three categories: annuals, perennials and biennials. Some herbs are woody shrubs; some are tender perennials that are treated as annuals in colder climates and grown year around in warmer climates. Tender perennials can be potted and overwinter in a cold frame, greenhouse, or cold sunny window. Some gardeners keep herbs in pots all year, growing them outdoors in the summer and bringing them indoors in the winter.

Position the herbs in your garden according to their size and growth habits. Creeping thyme, for example, never achieves any height, but spreads in a dense mat that can cover a large area. Lemon balm, reseeds profusely; mints spread via underground runners.

There are ways to contain spreading herbs to prevent them from taking over the garden. Corral herbs that spread by underground stems or runners, such as mint, bee balm, lemon balm, tansy, and tarragon, by growing them in pots. Or, plant the spreaders inside a container buried in the garden, leave the sides of the pot well above ground level to prevent the runners from simply jumping your pot.

To control herbs that self seed prolifically, such as chives, dill, catnip, and fennel, simply deadhead the flowers before they go to seed.

Mulch is invaluable in herb gardens. It slows weed growth, keeps the soil moist, and prevents soil from splashing onto edible plants. Wood chips tend to not only work well in a herb garden, they also look good. Tender herbs will often benefit from a light pea-gravel mulching when wood chips are inappropriate.

Every herb garden I have ever visited has had a special charm unique to the site. As you create your herb garden, combine plants into attractive plots or mounds as you see fit… If you read the label on your plants… And do a little research… You will know which plants are tall… And which ones are small… Now get this… Plant the small ones in front of the tall ones… That’s it people… There are no design mistakes in a herb garden… There are flaws… But as gardeners… We rearrange the damn garden every 2 years anyway… Chalk it up as a lesson learned… And fix it the next time… Easy Peezy…

It doesn’t matter where you plant them… Just plant them…

peace – chriscondello

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3 thoughts on “Practical Permaculture – Urban Herb Benefits

  1. petrujviljoen says:

    I’ve got thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, basil and coriander growing. Very little effort. The sage I tried perished for some reason. it sprouted leaves, was going along nicely and next thing the leaves just fell off and it’s not resprouting. Got another sage that somebody already got going and it seems to be growing well. We are entering winter here now, should be really cold by June July and into August. Not sure if it is the right time to take it from its container to put into the soil. Probably not, hey? The above herbs weathered last winter really well. Can’t stay ahead with taking off the flowers off the rosemary and basil. I think the basil wants to seed now before winter. I saved last summer’s basil seeds, planted them in spring last year (September) and got a batch of basil too much for my own consumption, no matter how much pesto I make and wonder how to harvest and preserve them. Was going to see on the web for advice, but if you could …? Was hoping to sell bags of herbs but people here seem to prefer the bought stuff. The rosemary was really tiny when I got it and it’s now quite big. The thyme and marjoram is flourishing now that I gave them a bigger area to grow in. Thyme really spreading. Haven’t been in the garden for a bit, besides just emergency weeding and stuff. The chamomile was very nice for my tea but it seems to be dying down for winter now as well. Want to make a large area just for chamomile and flax for next summer, we’ll have spring by about September.

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  2. bcumings1973 says:

    Right on. I grow lots of herbs. For so many reasons. Attract pollinators, protect other plants, food use and storage for winter, they smell and look great.

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  3. Herbs are so gorgeous and unexpected intermixed in ornamental gardens. I love walking through a garden (respectfully, of course) that contains herbs so the fresh aromas are released. Ahhhh…

    Great post. You’re bang on…”just plant them!”

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