Wednesday, April 26

Lessons From My Herb Garden

The new herb garden I started last year was as lovely as I had hoped. After a year of hospital and doctor visits because of my psoriasis which led to infections and a nasty drug interaction, I was ready for a round of stress relief. Growing and harvesting herbs has always been relaxing and peaceful. 

I've been growing herbs since we lived in the city almost 20 years ago. I learn something new each season, which, for me, is part of the joy I find in gardening. Below are the herbs I grew last season. I've included the good, bad and the ugly in growing each plant. 

Nasturtiums:  I've grown this beautiful herb from seed every year in whatever plot of land served as my garden. I find they do better in the ground, rather than in pots.Nasturtium will trail far and wide with optimum conditions. In my excitement, I ignored this lesson. They will also crowd shorter herbs such as thyme or oregano. The picture below was taken after I pulled up an entire plant that had grown to cover half of the oregano plant. This year I will plant fewer nasturtiums and sow them next to the outer edge where I can guide them to trail over the edging blocks, so they won't crowd other plants. Lesson: Sow nasturtiums where they can trail and wander without crowding other herbs.

Calendula: This is another of my favorite annual herbs, which is why I lost my mind momentarily when I planted TWO packets of calendula seeds.  Honestly, this size herb bed only needed 2-3 plants. They grew fast and furious, giving me more blooms than I could keep up with in the deadheading department. I ended up making four small tins of salve. (I'm tweaking the recipe this season before I share it.) The picture below shows both blooms and seed heads. Lesson: Sow LESS seed.

Lemon Verbena: The first time I grew lemon verbena was at least 13 years ago. I bought a small pot, knowing it wouldn't survive our Zone 5 winters. The fragrance of lemon verbena is unlike any other lemon scented herb. I can only describe it as delightful and uplifting. Last season I bought the same size pot from a local nursery, planting it in my herb bed. I watched in amazement as it grew to at least 5 feet tall and about 3 foot wide. The main "stem" by the end of the season was thick and woody, much like a small tree. Lesson: Give lemon verbena it's own space. 

Oregano/Lavender/Catmint: The only problem these three herbs developed was a lack of growth because of overcrowding that resulted in shade from the nasturtium and monster lemon verbena. They should recover this year.  Lesson: Pay attention to the spacing requirements given for an herb or flower. It makes a difference.

Other herbs grown last season:
Lemon Thyme
Assorted Pansies
Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)

From seed:
Basil (pots)

Lastly, the pansies and moss rose were a pretty addition to the herb bed, adding color while I waited patiently for the herbs to bloom. The pansies needed watering quite often, but the moss rose LOVED the heat and sun. They do well in the hottest part of the summer and rarely need watering.

I can't wait to apply these lessons this year!

I hope you all have a lovely day,

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