The Transylvania Times -

Master Gardener

Intermingling Herbs Provides Many Benefits

 

May 3, 2018

Gail Comer

When you think of an old-fashioned formal herb garden, it brings to mind small hedges clipped into a design like a knot. Another way to think of an herb garden is a kitchen garden which would include rows of basil, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, along with your favorite veggies.

Herbs can be grown in many different locations, with a common denominator - sunshine. Many folks have shady yards but usually the back deck has hours of sun, so the answer is containers.

Make a list of the herbs you want to grow and choose containers with a depth of at least 10 to 12 inches. Use a good commercial potting mix. It is easiest to go with 3- or 4-inch potted herb starts.

When you have made your choice, group them into categories. Herbs with a Mediterranean background that need less water and won't tolerate wet feet should be grown together. Examples are rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender.

Basil and dill are easily grown from seeds. When you thin the plants, throw the seedlings into your salad.

Mint should be grown separately in pots and might appreciate some shade.

Now let's try growing out of the box. Do you have a sunny average stretch of lawn up front that really is an eyesore? Let's do something about that. Break up the soil, add a soil conditioner, such as Nature's Helper, and some compost.

Put together a grouping of herbs that will be the correct plants for this dry location. Lavender would like this spot if you would add some fine gravel to the soil to increase the drainage. There is a new variety of lavender called Phenomenal that turns into a beautiful gray green shrub and when it blooms has long spikes of dark purple lavender. It was developed in Pennsylvania, so it is definitely hardy for our area and not as woody as many other varieties. Keep it lightly trimmed in the spring and you can always depend upon it.

Purple and variegated sage and creeping lemon thyme would be pretty for color and possibly throw in a few succulents because they like it in that dry situation.

Let's go to your flower beds. Do you need a spot of color? How about some chartreuse feverfew or maybe some purple ruffled basil or creeping golden oregano? You can also add varying heights, with anise hyssop Russian sage or Greek oregano. Read the plant labels or search the internet for ideas.

Our last space to mingle would be the large area of mulch that we used to slow down weed production. Clear out about a 12-inch circle and put in a small variety of lavender or rosemary. Don't forget to amend the soil and add gravel for drainage. On a slope, add varieties of creeping thyme, chives or maybe even a butternut squash. Use your imagination. It is fun to commingle and eat your yard!

(The Gardens of Silver-mont, behind Silvermont mansion, are staffed by working Master Gardener Volunteers each Thursday from 9-11 a.m. They welcome visitors and are happy to answer questions. The Extension Master Gardeners will be at the Transylvania Farmers' Market on the first and third Saturday mornings each month, so stop by with your gardening questions. Also, suggestions for articles on gardening topics can be sent to [email protected] Note "Article Idea" in the subject line.)

 
 

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