By Mary Anne Steele, Somervell County Master Gardener Intern
The gardener and the herb patch – one of the most easy-going and rewarding relationships you will ever have. Herbs make few demands: average soil, a little mulch, and some sun. Other than planting each year, annual herbs need little more. Tender perennials even come inside with you for the winter, asking only for a place away from direct heat, some indirect light, and a little water.
An herb garden is a source of pleasure during all four seasons. During spring and summer, herbs respond to stroking by releasing lovely fragrances. Some add flavor to foods, others repel insects. Some blooms are edible. In late summer to fall, you get the pleasure of harvesting and preserving your herbs, and in winter you get to play with them. It’s not necessary to use or make something from your herbs. You can just grow and enjoy them right in your garden.
You can fix your bed in the fall and wait until spring to plant, or create it and plant right away. If you set out purchased plants rather than grow all your herbs from seed, you can enjoy your new herb garden instantly, and you will have herbs to harvest more quickly. An area roughly 4’ x 8’ won’t take a lot of ingredients, but will give you room to grow several different herbs.
After planting, herbs need only minimum care. Mulch soon after planting and keep adding more mulch throughout the season as the organic matter breaks down. If you choose to harvest some for cooking, do so around midday when any dew has dried off. If you have a generous harvest you may want to dry some for winter use. Put trimmings in a paper bag, then hang in a warm, airy place. The bag draws the moisture out, speeds drying, and keeps them from getting dusty. Freezing is another way to preserve many herbs.
Source: Patricia Lantz, Lasagna Gardening