Growing Herbs: Try to avoid these mistakes

Herbs in the garden
Herbs in the garden

Whether in the herb spiral in the herb garden or in a pot on the windowsill: the cultivation of herbs is not complicated at all. Nevertheless, you should take a few important tips to heart when planting and caring for them. If you avoid the following mistakes, your kitchen herbs will thrive especially lushly and nothing will stand in the way of a rich harvest.

Mistake 1: Wrong location

Most herbs love a warm, sunny to partially shady spot. If they stand too shady, their aroma cannot develop well. Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, rosemary or oregano are particularly sun-loving. They like to be in full sun for at least half a day during the season. Herbs with large, green and soft leaves such as mint, lemon balm or parsley are more moisture-loving and feel comfortable in partially shady areas. Only typical woodland herbs like woodruff or wild garlic can actually thrive in shade. In any case, make sure to plant the herbs in an airy location: In “stagnant air” fungal diseases and pests can spread more easily.

Mistake 2: Wrong substrate

If you plant herbs in the wrong soil, they will not grow optimally, and in the worst case, they may even die. Therefore, a large part of the herbs belong to the weak-feeder and love a loose, water-permeable substrate. Pure potting soil is too dense and too rich in nutrients for many species. It is better to choose a special soil that is adapted to the needs of the seasoning plants. For pot culture, for example, there is high-quality herb soil that is rather low in nutrients and has good permeability. It allows easy rooting, but can also retain moisture well.

Alternatively, you can mix herbal soil yourself: Three parts garden soil, two parts sand and one part compost have proven to be a standard recipe. The proportions can be easily adjusted according to the preferences of the individual herbs. Also make sure you have good drainage when creating a herb bed.

Mistake 3: Not enough planting distance

Another mistake that tends to happen when growing herbs is planting too close together. If the seasoning plants are too close together, they are inhibited in their growth, less productive and the aroma also suffers. Therefore, adhere to the recommended planting distances. Cilantro needs a spacing of between 15 and 20 centimeters (6 to 8 in), oregano and thyme between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 to 12 in). Also note that some herbs do not get along well as neighbors, such as parsley and other umbellifers like dill or chervil.

Mistake 4: No or wrong pruning

If you simply let half-shrubs such as sage, lavender or rosemary grow, they lignify over time and break apart unsightly. To ensure that they remain compact and sprout vigorously again, the herbs should be pruned regularly. The best time is in spring, as soon as there is no longer a threat of night frosts. Whether pruning rosemary or cutting lavender, make sure to always stay in the leafy area when pruning. If you cut into the perennial, unleafed wood, the half-shrubs usually sprout only hesitantly. Pruning is also worthwhile for herbaceous herbs such as basil, peppermint or garlic chives, they sprout new shoots and provide fresh, aromatic greenery.

Mistake 5: Neglect winter protection

Mediterranean herbs are not hardy in heavy, winter-wet soils. Those with heavy soils should therefore be sure to loosen their herb beds with sand, lava or pumice for better drainage. To allow rainwater to drain away more quickly, herbs such as rosemary or thyme are also often planted slightly elevated. Perennial herbs in pots are provided with winter protection in good time so that the roots do not freeze. To do this, pack larger planters individually, smaller pots can be placed together in a box lined with straw or leaves. A wooden plate protects against the cold ground. Especially frost-sensitive herbs overwinter indoors.

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