28.7.10

Herb Gardening Basics

The smell of fresh herbs in your kitchen is almost irresistible and there are lots of kitchen herbs that grow well here. Remember, though, that we live in a subtropical climate with plenty of other critters that like to eat your herbs.You'll need to take some cautionary steps to grow herbs and keep them growing. Here are some simple tips for growing herbs successfully.

First--most herbs would prefer to grow outside, not on your kitchen sink window.
Second-- if you're not familiar with specific garden herb culture, start with growing herbs in large pots ( over 10 inch diameter) in cactus soil. It's best to set the pots on bricks or paver stones to keep the pots off the soil to improve drainage.
Third- most herbs prefer morning sun. Provide a spot where there is sun until 11 a.m. and bright light the rest of the day.
Fourth--except for the desert-type plants like Rosemary and Culantro, water your plants enough to keep the soil moist.
Fifth-- keep an eye out for birds, lizards, snails, and all herb predators. Stick with organic repellents to keep them off your plants.
Last--use a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote or Dynamite mixed into the planting soil.

A good general rule for harvesting your plants is to cut no more than 1/3 of the plant off at any one time. Trimming off any old seed heads will help the plant stay in growth mode, as opposed to moving into seed-then-die mode.

Members of the Parsley family of herbs often attract certain butterflies, so don't be surprised if you see some zebra-striped caterpillars and busy butterflies on your plants, especially when the herbs flower. Some people plant extra plants just to attract and feed these gorgeous black and yellow beauties. Provide your herbs with a good bright airy spot in the garden, give them some attention and water, and harvest your ultra-fresh plants when you want to.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

2 comments:

  1. Very useful info! I know herb gardening may seem like a basic topic with much info available on the internet, but most of the US doesn't have subtropical summers like South Florida, so this is quite useful to curious, though inexperienced, amateur gardeners/cooks.

    With this info I really think I'm going to set out a few tester pots according to these guidelines, any recommendations on herbs? Are the typically common basil, oregano, and mint fine growing in mid-august Miami? Or do you recommend a different time to start them off..

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  2. Hi Matt- thanks for the feedback. Most of the herbs you can buy locally will grow OK here, but basil struggles in the summer heat and sunlight. Until you get the feel for the plants + your conditions, site the pots in morning sun and afternoon shade. Rosemary gows best in full sunlight, mints need a LOT of water and some shade, oregano, thyme, marjoram need good drainage, and lemon grass needs space.... lots of space. The Parsley / Cilantro group of plants like afternoon shade, and a little extra epsom salt in their liquid fertilizer diet. You can get a lot of different herbs at the Green Market that will be parked here this Fall, or purchased from any garden center. Also consider that some herbs are annuals, like Basil. Lemon Basil sets lots of seed, and can get out of hand.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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