THE HISTORY OF GROWING HERBS
The knowledge and study of herbs and spices is nearly as old as mankind itself. Many cuttings and seeds from Mediterranean plants were transported across the Alps by the Romans and missionary monks, enriching their herb gardens. Later, many new variants emerged, thanks to crossbreeding. This involved not only Charlemague but also people such as the Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, who amassed a treasure trove of plants in convent gardens and applied the knowledge of how to grow them. Their knowledge endured and was added to by successive generations. However, due to the technical revolution and therapies of the 20th century, the preparation and use of herbs dwindled in popularity.
Nowadays, people long for a return to healthful, natural foods and therapies. What could be more healthful and natural than treating oneself with herbal aromas and therapeutic plants? We have described in detail the most important spices and herbs so that you can grow and harvest them successfully. Besides information regarding treatment with herbs (herbalism), you can also find several recipes that show you how many uses each herb and spice has.
WHAT SHOULD AN HERB GARDEN LOOK LIKE?
You may set up your herb garden in any way that pleases you. It does not matter if it is a full-sized herb bed for the whole family, a small garden on your balcony, or even a small garden on your window ledge. The advantage of growing herbs in small pots indoors is that you can preserve plants that are affected by cold weather, such as basil and summer savory. Perennial herbs such as thyme and hyssop can be easily integrated into other groups of perennials. A spiral of herbs can be very practical in that you can grow many plants in a small space. It is important to note that herbs such as parsley, chervil, lovage, and peppermint should be grown on the cooler, northern side, while plants such as thyme, marjoram, sage, and rosemary should be grown on the upper, sunny, and drier side. Herbs used for cooking are most practically grown in a place close to your kitchen.
SEEDS OR SEEDLINGS?
You can buy many herbs as seeds or seedlings from nurs-eries, markets, or through the mail. Some of them are eas-ily propagated. You can divide them, snip cuttings, or har-vest seeds. Herbs that need warmth, such as basil or rosemary, should be germinated indoors. Spread the seeds of herbs that do not need to be started early directly on the beds. Of course it all depends on price and quantity. Seeds are cheaper than seedlings; however, sometimes all you need is just one seedling. In the description of each herb, you will find the exact process you should follow to grow it successfully.
TIPS FOR THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HERBS
You can grow frost-resistant herbs throughout the year in pots. However, the most ideal seasons are spring and fall. Herbs that need warmth should be grown outdoors only when the risk of frost is not great. The bed should be well prepared. Hard soil should be mixed with sand and compost. You can improve poor soil by mixing it with a nutritious compost. Adding compost or organic fertilizers to the soil in spring ensures that the plants receive sufficient nutrition. If necessary, after the harvest you can add liquid fertilizers (liquids made for plants or prepared mixtures) again in summer.
Beware of over fertilization; over fertilized herbs grow faster, but are less aromatic. Many plants that like sunny places become dry and need watering, especially those grown in pots, because they do not get any moisture from the earth. These should be fed with a liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks in summer. Thin mulch spread over the soil protects them from both dryness and weeds. You can prune some herbs in fall, and again in spring.
PROTECTING THE PLANTS
You can avoid plant damage and diseases by using optimal varieties and choosing the right place for them. The intense aroma of herbs often repels harmful insects. However, if insects do attack the plants, use environmentally sound methods to get rid of them: cut off the damaged parts of the plants, pick off the insects, introduce insect traps, or repot the herbs. If severe damage occurs, reach immediately for chemical compounds (e.g., potassium oxide).
MIXTURE TO HELP FIGHT PLANT-LICE: put 2 pounds of fresh nettles or half a pound of dried nettles into 10 quarts of water. Leave to ferment for about 2 weeks, stirring every day.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend