|Top 10 herbs for a herb garden|
With so many different herbs to choose from it can be hard to decide which species to select when first planting up a herb garden. Of course it is only worth growing the types of herbs which you are most likely to use, and this will be dictated by the adventurousness of your culinary skills.
Our more popular herbs have been introduced from a wide range of climates and environments across the globe. Some are small and compact in growth, while others will sprawl across your herb garden smothering all others in its path (yes I am looking at you Mentha species)!
With this in mind I have categorized the following herbs with regards to their environmental requirements. That way you will only have to plant your herb garden once (hopefully) and get a decent crop from all of your plants.
Mediterranean - full sun and poor, free-draining soils
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It is easy to grow from seed and cultivated as an annual. It is most commonly used fresh in cooked recipes by being added at the last moment. This is because cooking basil will quickly destroys its sweet, anise flavour.
Depending on conditions Basil can grows to a height and spread of between 30–130 cm.
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Dried leaves have more flavour than fresh, and good quality oregano can be strong enough to almost numb the tongue. In cooler. northern European climates oregano may not survive the freezing winters and so may need to be planted with new stock each spring.
Depending on conditions oregano can grow to a height and spread of between 50–100 cm.
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In temperate climates parsley is a bright green, biennial, plant, but acts as an annual herb in subtropical and tropical regions. It will grow to an ultimate height and spread of between 10-50 cm. Parsley will perform best in a moist, well-drained soil, in full sun to semi-shade.
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Sage will grow best in a light, moist, but well-drained soil in full sun. In colder, northern European countries it will need to be planted in a sheltered position that avoids becoming overly wet during the winter. You can expect sage to grow to an ultimate height and spread of between 50-100 cm.
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Thyme is easy to grow in the majority of well-drained alkaline to neutral soils in a position that receives as much direct sunlight as possible. In favourable conditions thyme will grow to an overall height and spread of between 10 and 50 cm.
European - full sun, rich, moist but free-draining soils
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In colder, northern European regions, the foliage die back to the underground bulbs during the winter, with the new growth emerging in early spring. When harvesting, the stalks should be cut to the base, but only harvest what you will immediately use. During the growing season, the plant will continually regrow leaves, allowing for a continuous harvest. However once the plants start to look old they can be cut back to about 2–5 cm above ground level.
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The leaves have a different taste from the seeds and are an ingredient in many Indian, Chinese and Thai dishes as well as being a popular flavouring in Mexican cooking. Like basil, heat causes coriander leaves to lose their flavour, and so are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. The leaves are prone to turn quickly once removed from the plant, and will lose their aroma even when freshly dried or frozen.
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Spearmint prefers partial shade, but can flourish in a range of conditions from full sun to full shade. It is best suited to loamy soils which have had plenty of organic material previously dug in.
Asian - warm temperatures, direct sun and moist soils
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Native to south-west Asia, dill can be grown from seed easily in regions which experience warm to hot summers in a position which receives as much direct sunlight as possible. Be aware that even partial shade will reduce the yield substantially. It also prefers a rich, well drained soil.
Given favorable conditions you can expect dill to grow to between 50-100 cm with an approximate spread of 10-50 cm.
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Native across much of Eurasia and North America, it will grow best in a hot, sunny spot in a moist but well-drained soil. Avoid overwatering as this will damage the roots. Under favourable conditions you can expect tarragon to grow to 50-100 cm high with a spread of 10-50 cm
For related articles click onto the following links:
HERBS FOR ANXIETY RELIEF
HOW TO GROW HERBS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW SAGE
HOW TO GROW SAGE FROM SEED
TOP TEN HERBS FOR A HERB GARDEN