Growing your own vegetables is a great way to feed your family wholesome food for little cost. While vegetables will grow any place where there’s good soil and 8-10 hours of sunlight a day, growing flavorful herbs to complement those veggies can be a little tricky since they all have different light, temperature, and soil needs.
Herbs such as basil and tarragon, for example, like full morning sun but can’t handle the heat of an afternoon sun, preferring dappled light instead. Rosemary, oregano and sage on the other hand thrive best in poor soil and hot sun. How do you decide what herbs will work best in your yard? Through a little bit of trial and error.
When I first started growing herbs 30 years ago, I started with several easy to grow varieties to get a feeling for how well they grew in my yard. From there, I kept adding more varieties and experimented with different locations, soil types, the amount of sun and watering needs to see how each herb responded.
Experiment with sun
Before any of my new herb plants go in the ground, they are planted in containers which are then placed in the areas of the yard where I think they might do best. This is an easy way to find the “hot spots” of a yard where heat-loving herbs will thrive. It also helps you identify areas that are too hot for cooler temperature herbs such as basil and parsley. I usually move my herbs at least five or six times before finally settling on a location with perfect lighting and temperature conditions.
Experiment with soil
Along with the sun, soil conditions are also important for herbs. Herbs such as oregano, rosemary, ruse, parsley, and thyme do best in poor soil conditions which makes the leaves more fragrant. Herbs such as basil, parsley, and dill seem to do better in rich soil. Once my herbs goes in the ground, I’ll keep a close eye on them to see if the soil conditions are agreeable. If the herb puts out new growth within a few weeks after transplanting, then I know the soil is fine. If not, the herb is lifted and relocated to another area.
Experiment with water
Herbs also have different watering needs which you’ll also discover through trial and error. My basil, for example needs to be watered every day because I live in an arid climate. The thyme and rosemary only require watering every third week. I try to match up the herbs with similar watering needs and then watch how well they do. If one looks like it’s suffering from too much water (or too little), it gets lifted and moved to another location.
Unlike vegetable crops, most herbs are perennial plants which means that they’ll come back year after year with proper care. This why growing herbs successfully takes some trial and error along with a little bit of patience.
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Why I plant vegetables and flowers together