Bouquet Garni Herbs


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Herb Garden Site Preparation

Good drainage is one of the most important aspects of growing herbs. Most herbs will survive in poor sandy soils, but few are able to cope with water-logged soils. Herbs hate wet feet caused by poor drainage and will show their discontent by growing poorly. Ask your local nurseryman to advise you on your type of soil and how to improve it if necessary.

While preparing the soil for planting, get rid of all the weeds. Those that have tap roots need to be lifted, taking care not to break off any pieces as they will almost certainly sprout again. The time and trouble you take at this stage to rid the area of weeds will be well rewarded in the future. Remember not to throw the uprooted weeds on the compost heap – you’ll only transplant them.

Most herbs prefer a slightly alkaline soil. If your soil is acidic you can add a sprinkling of lime. This will act as a catalyst to help your herbs make optimum use of the nutrients present in the soil.

Your herbs will definitely benefit from the addition of compost of kraal manure. Apart from improving the texture of the soil it also helps to retain moisture and nutrients. A layer of 5 cm worked into the top 30 cm of your soil will be sufficient in most cases. Although this can be an expensive exercise if you have a large garden, it will be worth the expense in the long run. Another beneficial addition at this stage is bone meal. If you know your soil is poor or lacking in minerals, you can add a sprinkling of 2:3:2 or an organic fertilizer.

Dig the whole area to a depth of at least 45 cm, adding the compost etc. Rake to a smooth level surface. You are now ready to proceed with the planting of your herbs.

When you buy herb plants in a nursery, water them well and let them stand for half an hour or more before planting. Dig a hole twice as large as the pot. Remove the plant from the pot by holding it upside down and tapping the edge of the pot against a table. Loosen the roots at the bottom of the root ball slightly. Set the plant in its hole and fill it up with soil to the same level as it was in the pot. Water the entire area thoroughly after planting.

Mulching will help to prevent the soil from drying out and it can also supply nutrients. It also helps to control weed-growth by blocking out sunlight. Mulching material can be bought at your local nursery or you can use material from your garden. The Mediterranean herbs, such as sage and rosemary, will benefit more from a mulch of gravel if the soil is very moist.

This article by Di-Di Hoffman appeared in Timeless Herb Secrets.

Di-Di is the owner of Bouquet Garni Nursery – South Africa’s Top Potted Herb Growers and Marketers - and Director of the South African Herb Academy. You’ll find hundreds of tips and recipes to help you get the most from your herbs by subscribing to his insanely popular FREE Timeless Herb Secrets newsletter



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