Growing Herbs

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by crafty2002, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. crafty2002

    crafty2002 Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering what kind of herbs are good for planting. I was thinking about what kind would be good to have in the garden or inside. I have thought of dill, oregano, chives. How would these grow and what others could I possibly plant. Thank you for any help you could give me.
     
  2. bgraham

    bgraham Well-Known Member

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    Well, I bought about 20 different varieties of seeds...we'll see how much I actually get planted. lol.

    Lets see if I can remember off the top of my head...I have several varieties of basil, oregano, sage, dill, chives, lavender, echinacea, feverfew, cilantro, chamomile, lemon balm, parsley, thyme and rosemary.

    Beth
     

  3. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    The first and most important thing.....don't plant what you won't use. If you hate basil, it's hardly worth the effort.

    I prefer perrenial herbs, cause I'm lazy :D I have chives, thyme, rosemary, sage and lemon balm. I do plant dill yearly, or sometimes let it reseed itself :) i had a bay leaf bush for the longest time. Kept it indoors in the winter and outside in the summer. Sadly, i brouight it in too late one autumn and it croaked. Had a great smell though.
     
  4. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    I have an all-herb garden, so I'm somewhat biased!

    Most herbs don't do well indoors. They are much happier outside. You will want to put aggressive growers like mint and oregano into containers (you'll regret it otherwise! Both can travel far and wide, so make the pots large).

    My advice is to take a tour around a herb nursery, using your eyes and your nose and your taste buds to check out each herb that interests you. Pick off a leaf or two, crush it, smell it, taste it. Then select no more than, say, half a dozen to begin with. Buy seedlings, not seeds, if you are a beginner.

    I can't tell which herbs you're likely to like or to use, but a basic herb garden would usually consist of any of the following: parsley, chives, sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, mint (spearmint is the most useful). You might consider others like tarragon (the Winter Tarragon, Tagetes lucida is easy to grow and pretty), lemon balm, lemon verbena, savory. Lavender is essential in any real herb garden - go for the English lavender, the one recommended for medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and household use.

    You'll need to do some homework on how to grow them and how to use them. Do a search for each one you like here, or elsewhere on the internet. Learn which ones are annuals, and which ones are perennials or biennials. From your list, dill is an annual, oregano and chives are perennials, but chives will die down to nothing even in a very mild winter, then pop back up again in spring. Parsley is a biennial.

    The 3 herbs you mention will all do well in full sun - if you live in a very hot climate, the parsley might appreciate partial shade. They should all grow well together. You might want to remove the flowerheads of the dill as they appear, although I suggest leaving one of them to allow for self-seeding for the following generation. Parsley will also self-seed prolifically in its second year. Chives can self-seed, too, but they never do it for me! I just divide the clumps when they get a bit crowded.

    I suggest starting off with culinary herbs and learn about how to use them medicinally. Then, as you become more knowledgeable and confident, you can start collecting your medicinal herbs and learning about them. Feverfew is a good one (it can become a weed in the blink of an eye), and aloe vera is one which I find indispensable. Echinacea is a herb to be used with caution, and you'll need a lot of it to be useful. Same with Evening Primrose. But they're pretty in the garden. I think Chillies are good in a herb garden - I don't eat them often, but they provide colour and are easy to grow. A Chaste-tree is also a pretty shrub (deciduous).

    If you're into Asian cooking, you can't go past Ginger, Galangal, Lemongrass, Garlic, Turmeric and cardamom. You'll need a warm-to-hot climate for those. They're all easy to grow. You could also consider things like sesame, caraway, cumin. Even stevia, as a novelty.

    Don't forget your greens! Lettuce, bok choy (and other Asian greens), chard, spinach, French Sorrel, Dandelion, Rocket (arugula), mustard, perilla and many more.

    For something larger, you must have a Bay tree! You can make it a topiary plant as a centrepiece, or let it to its own thing and become a large tree. It MUST be Laurus nobilis. All other laurels are poisonous.

    Have fun! You've only got 20000 herbs to choose from!
     
  5. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's wonderful to have fresh herbs handy if you like to cook! I intersperse my herbs throughout my flower and veggie garden. They are great in the veggie garden for attracting good insects and pollinators.

    The thing to remember about herbs is that they don't need a lot of moisture or terribly good soil. So put them in an area that can stand to be ignored (but not when they are being established) I plant flowers in my best soil, and herbs in my worst. It's all getting better though because I mulch heavily.
     
  6. crafty2002

    crafty2002 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the infomation all. Culpeper you sound like a walking talking encyclopidia on herbs, lol.
    Maybe ya'll can help me out a step further. I am going dry and store them in seperate gallon jars and only take out what will fill a regular spice container like you buy at the store with the names already on them :) , and I have a huge field behing the house.
    I am going to have a man turn and disc several plots and was thinking about letting him cut one row all the way across the width of it whatever the width of the plow and disc are (probably 5 to 6 feet wide) for nothing but herbs.
    I am wondering how much of each herbs to grow. I want to try and save enough each year to make it to the next year if posible. I have a nice cool corner in the basement I am going to build shelves in, where I will store the gallon jars in and the DW can get all the jars we need for free with good lids to boot. I just have to boil them to get the taste of whatever happened to be in them out.
    We spend a lot of money buying herbs and spices, and would like to get that monkey off by back. There isn't anything we cook that isn't spiced up with something.
    I will try to pick out all the perennials I can and plant them all starting on one end of the row, and then go to the biperennials, etc., so next year I won't have as much work to do to get them started.
    One more thing is I take pain meds every day because of several severe accidents and was wondering if there is any herbs that any of you know of that will help subdue the pain I can "Legally Grow".

    And as always with me, one more thing. What books would you sugest I get to read about herbs. My DW bought me two but I didn't think either one was any good.
    Thank AHOT and God Bless
    Dennis
     
  7. Zebraman

    Zebraman Well-Known Member

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  8. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Don't go overboard with your herbs! Dried herbs have a limited shelf-life, and if you do too much, they'll only go to waste (or on the compost heap). As a general rule, dried herbs should be tossed out after about one year. They don't go 'off', as such, but they do lose their colour, flavour and aroma after a while. Generally speaking, the larger the particles you store, the longer they'll keep - so ground/powdered herbs will be the first to go, and whole nutmegs pretty much last forever. And so it goes.

    One or two small herb/spice containers will last you a long, long time. As a rule of thumb, you use only 1/3-1/2 the amount of dried herb as you would fresh herb. The flavour of dried herbs is usually more concentrated than that of fresh herbs (but fresh herbs taste INFINITELY better!). Forget the humungous containers!!

    I find that one or two plants of what you are going to use is quite enough. Sure, there's only me to use mine, but one basil plant produces enough for a lot of people - I end up using prunings as mulch! Seriously! Chives can be divided, and divided, and divided. (Chives, BTW, don't dry well - best to freeze.) A rosemary plant can be very large, and one plant will be enough to feed your entire neighbourhood - and the visiting army as well - with plenty to spare.

    Herbal painkillers? There are many, but most of the powerful ones are a bit too heavy-duty for the uninitiated, and the line between a therapeutic dose and a fatal dose is very narrow! I suggest you try Feverfew or White Willow or Meadowsweet (the last 2 are the plants from which Aspirin was derived). Remember that pain is just one symptom of an ailment - best to get an expert diagnosis, and treat the ailment, not just the symptom.

    This is one of the best herb sites I know. But you have millions (literally) to choose from:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/D_search.html

    If you want books, pay a visit to your local library, and browse the hundreds they are likely to have there before buying. If you're really wanting to spend your money, I would always recommend any of the books by Leslie Bremness.
     
  9. crafty2002

    crafty2002 Well-Known Member

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    culpepper, I go over board on everything I do, lol. I want to plant everything I can find seeds for.
    I know herbs sorta just go stale after awhile, but it looks to me like if you can buy them fresh,(speaking of off the shelves in the shaker bottles or jars) they have been stored somewhere from atleast the last year. :shrug:
    The site you showed in your last post here is fantastic. :hobbyhors
    Now where on Gods Green Earth do you find the seeds or cuttings for some of the plants it outlines?? :shrug:
    And you are right, it does look like it has literally millions of different plants on it. I never seen such a mess to try to learn, much less plant, :baby04: lol.

    You said chives don't dry well but the DW buys it in 1/2 oz. shaker bottles, which seem quite large for 1/2 oz., but it's dried and chopped chives. :shrug: She can't do without this and will buy another before the one she has runs out.

    Another question is what is the difference between herbs and spices??
    I know you can grow herbs but what about spices. :shrug:
    Thanks for all the info.
     
  10. chicamarun

    chicamarun Well-Known Member

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    My husband does most of our seed starting as we sell the plants (they are already up in the basement). I keep in my garden basil, cilantro, oregano, sage, chives, and rosemary.

    I freeze my cilantro, parsley and chives for year round use. It works great.

    Note that some don't start from seed very well (rosemary is one of them) - you need to start them from cuttings or plugs - since we sell we buy the plugs from ritchers.com in Canada.

    Otherwise - have fun and experiment :)

    Oh - one thing I am trying this year is growing paprika pepper plants and will dry those for our paprika... it just sounds like fun.
     
  11. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am trying to start stuff from seed (will give up and splurge on plants later in the year/budget if necessary). Chives doing great from seed, think parsley and dill may have at least sprouted. But last night planted my creeping thyme seed (have a large area I want to cover with it and don't want to buy 20 $2-4 pots) and had to search high and low for how to plant- all advisers saying 'easier to start from cuttings' or 'buy a plant'. Even in several herb books. Guess they're actually just coffeee table pretties not gardening books.
     
  12. cybercat

    cybercat prowler of the internet

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    Crafty as an herbalist I can tell you that you will need to choose someplace to start. There is just to much with herbs to do it all. Many herbs have 3 things they can be used for and some many more than that. What these are food, medicinal and beauty treatments. Herbs should be store in brown glass containers to keep their properties. Sun will destroy the good stuff in herbs after they are cut. You also want to have a seperate place to cut and dry your herbs aways from other things you do around your place. Most of us in herbs that have good size garden have an herb shed which is dark and dry. This is Not nessasry but it does help alot since herbs will abosorb ordors and moisture easily.

    Ok, now for some learning info and there have been 10000 books and web pages so start doing a search and read, read ,read and read forever. Here are 2 good books to start with that cover alot. The New Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman published by Rodale and Jude's Herbal Home Remedies by Jude Williams, H.M. published by Llewellyn. Both these books cover growning, history, therapeutic, safty and recipes. New healing has more listed plant wise like celery, choclate/cocoa, dandelion, juniper and more that you might not think of as herbs but do have uses that way. It has 100 herbs listed with all there uses.

    To answer your question about herb and spices there is no differance. Spices are ground up herbs.

    Ok, if you ust want an herb garden for flavoring food then look for garden/ cookbooks on herbs. If you want more medicinal then the herbal healing and remides are the place to look. This is also good for the beauty section also. Some will cover everything like the ones I listed. Also you can specialize for there is a west and east and native in the herb groups. If you want to get really into them there are home study courses from good schools all over the world. These I would say would be a must if you plan to sell herbs and herb made produsts. BTW herbs are very good money and can be sold in many different ways.

    In growing, each herb has its own special requirments. Some like dry soil some like wet some acid some nuetural. In herbs it make a big differance in how they are grown if they will grow. What is good for a veggie garden is not so good for a herb garden. How one plans there herb garden is unquic to them. You can have a formal herb gared or just some herbs planted here and there where they will grow best. Herbs also are great for companion planting with veggies. Ofcourse not all herbs can be done that way but most of the ones you would use for cooking can like garlic, fennel and the list goes on. You can buy seeds from and seed catalog they will carry a big varity of cooking herbs. Any others are easy to find thru some of the seed swaps or herb only seed places. Also check nurseries in your area and home depot, lowes ect. Hope this helps if you need I can list web site for info but they are easy to find with a search on either herb garen or herb medical. There are many forums that are just herb oriented too. First thing for you is get some books and read some gardening herb sites.

    tamara
     
  13. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    There are about 20000 KNOWN herbs on the planet, and undoubtedly many still not discovered.

    A spice is a herb, or a part of a herb. Usually it has 'zing' - it's pungent or aromatic. So - you don't always grind ginger, but it is called a spice. Ditto with cinnamon, nutmeg, galangal, cloves, allspice, sumac and many others.

    Herb, technically, refers to the leafy parts of a plant. So in a recipe for a remedy, you'll often find instructions to 'place the herb in a saucepan...'. If other parts of the plant are used, they are usually specified. This isn't a hard and fast rule, however. You really need to learn which parts of a 'herb' are used!

    You MUST control your urge to go overboard! Especially in the early stages, while you are still learning. With such a huge diversity of plants, you have to expect that each has its own requirements for sun, water, soil conditions, space etc. A cactus will not generally do well in a boggy situation!! A cold climate plant will do less well in a hot environment. And so it goes. You need to study your herbs, and plan your garden according to their needs - and your needs.

    You can buy herb seeds from a mail-order company like Richters (there are many others, so you'll need to Google for 'mail-order herbs' or similar. Seeds vary greatly in their viability. Some need to be very, very fresh - others can remain viable for years, or even centuries. This, too, you'll need to learn.

    You also need to learn about whether a particular herb is an annual, a biennial, a perennial, or a short-lived perennial. You need to learn whether it has potential as a weed (many herbs are weeds!), whether it's prohibited in your area (horsetail, comfrey, St. John's Wort, marijuana are just a very few plants which may be banned for one reason or another). You need to learn how big each plant will get in maturity, how far it spreads, how tall it gets. Some herbs are environmental THUGS!

    I suggest you begin with half a dozen herbs which you KNOW you'll use. Learn about each of them thoroughly before rushing out for your next half dozen and repeating the process. I can promise you disappointment if you don't do this. You want your herbs to be of USE to you! Later, you can put in some herbs just for their novelty factor, but in my experience, herbs KNOW when they loved and wanted and needed, and they behave accordingly! At the same time, however, you'll find herbs which will grow just to spite you - such determined herbs will include things like dandelions, plantain, and ragwort!!

    Just because you can buy dried chives, it doesn't mean that they are much good! To me, dried chives taste very much like dried out hay.

    Recently, my son, who has been cooking up curries as his latest fad, discovered the difference between fresh and dried herbs. He's always known the difference of course (being raised by ME!), but this time the message really hit home. He'd been using dried turmeric, but I persuaded him to try some fresh turmeric from my garden for the first time. He was bowled over by the difference in the flavour! And he now has his own turmeric growing in his own garden, and he'll never buy the dried stuff again.

    I strongly suggest that you begin with the culinary herbs, the ones you already use in your cooking. REALLY learn about them - their culinary uses, their medicinal uses, their household uses, their cosmetic uses etc. This will keep you occupied for a very long time, as there is an awful lot to know! Leave the purely medicinal herbs until you gain some expertise in the culinary herbs. Many of them can be dangerous in the hands of the uninitiated.

    However, if you're mad keen to get into the medicinal herbs, why not start with some pretty ones that won't do you much harm? Evening primrose, echinacea, roses, violets, calendula - these are an asset in any garden just for their beauty. And they all have assorted medicinal properties.

    Read as much as you possibly can about each herb that interests you. Don't believe EVERYTHING you read, either! Especially when it's on the internet. Learn to sort the wheat from the chaff in the vast amount of information you'll discover.