Care and Feeding for the Beginner

Caring for herbs is easy with these tips

| June/July 2002

It’s true that some herbs will spring up and grow in carefree fashion almost anywhere, by the side of the road or in an empty field, with no attention from anybody. But plants are like people. They have their needs. While herbs are not generally fussy or demanding, they put forth their best performance with a little TLC.

The proof is in the pudding of any garden maintenance routine. Your goal is to be able to maintain a garden plot that is lush and bountiful, with sturdy, productive plants—and with a minimum of fuss. When you first plant a garden, you spend a lot of time and trouble nurturing plants until they establish themselves; but by midsummer, you’re probably ready to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Here are some keys to minimum maintenance:


By now, let’s hope you’ve got a routine down that’s based on the demands of your climate. Whether you’ve got a sprinkler system on a timer or are hauling hoses around the yard, when the heat of the summer hits, this demand takes precedence, even in today’s drought-tolerant gardens.

There’s no exact formula for how much or how little water a garden needs—this varies so widely from one climate to the next, from one day to the next, and from one plant to the next—but the rule is that when you water, water deep, then let the top inch of soil start to dry out between waterings. And never let your herbs stand in water; the soil must be free-draining (but hopefully you improved and conditioned your soil at planting time). Watering takes some experimentation and a watchful eye. The plants or areas that need more moisture than the rest will let you know.


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