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1 16th February 01:32
earl buchan
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Posts: 1
Default Herb gardening can be simple and rewarding (have cactus large water watering)


The Plant Man column
for publication the week of 03/07/04 - 03/13/04
(799 words)


The Plant Man
by Steve Jones
http://www.landsteward.org


Herb gardening can be simple and rewarding


Where would we be without herbs? It's not a very appetizing thought.
Our
food would taste blander, our world would smell less pleasant and we
would
all be a lot less healthy.

For my wife Cheryl and me, herbs play an important part in our lives.
We
enjoy the subtle fragrance they add to our landscape. We love to snip
fresh
herbs just outside our kitchen door and experiment with new recipes.
And
we're beginning to learn more about how many herbs can make a positive
difference to our health and well being.

In this and in one or two future columns, we'll take a look at herbs
and
come up with some ideas to help you plant, grow and use your own
herbs.

Perhaps you are like many people I've met who like the IDEA of growing
their
own herbs, but for one reason or another they DON'T actually do it.
Here are
the three main reasons – or perhaps excuses – that I've heard for not
getting started:

* "I don't have enough space."

* "I don't want to disrupt my existing landscaping to add a herb
garden."

* "Herbs look so delicate. I'm sure I'd kill them off."

Let's take a look at those one by one. Firstly you don't need a lot of
space
in order to enjoy a fairly abundant supply of fresh herbs. In fact,
you can
enjoy your own herbs even if you live in a high rise apartment with no
more
than a balcony!

Secondly, there's no need to dedicate ANY of your precious soil
specifically
to herbs unless you want to, because herbs can mingle well with your
existing plants. And finally, most herbs are a lot hardier than you
might
think. In fact, some herbs (mint, for example) are like edible kudzu
and
are almost impossible to kill off!

Okay; let's get specific. Suppose, for whatever reason, a dedicated
"herb
garden" isn't an option for you. I believe that I have the ideal
solution:
containers.

In fact containers actually have some advantages over ‘traditional'
herb
gardens. The biggest benefit is that containers are mobile. You can
move
them around to take advantage of the sun or shade, or move them safely
out
of harm's way when you're expecting company on your deck or patio.

Go to one of those large "box" stores or a garden center and take a
look at
the various containers on display there. You'll see terra cotta pots
as
well as light-weight plastic "look-alikes" and containers made of wood
or
clay. Your container-based mini herb garden can be very attractive
and
aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, so bear in mind where
your
containers will be located as you make your choice.

Small pots or containers can be grouped together to make an infinitely
variable display, or you might want to place the pots in a wooden tray
so
you can easily lift up and move the entire bunch in one go.

If a large container looks as if it might be too heavy for easy
movement,
look for "container dollies" that have small wheels or casters that
allow
you to push it around without too much effort.

Regardless of the container size or type you choose, planting your
herbs is
relatively simple. You should consider buying some pre-mixed soil
specifically blended for container gardens. However, I know some folks
prefer to use a cactus soil mix. Carefully transfer your new herbs to
the
container and moisten the soil. I recommend that you don't over-water
your
herbs and you should let the soil become fairly (but not totally) dry
before
watering again.

And that's pretty much all you have to do, other than monitor their
exposure
to sun and move them out of the direct path of a heavy rainstorm.
Every
other month or so, you can add a little dose of a balanced fertilizer
mixture if your herbs look like they need a pick-me-up.

Most herbs can cohabit with each other successfully, so feel free to
mix
different varieties, particularly if you're using larger containers.
Oregano, mint, sage, parsley and lavender will all grow happily side
by
side, as will many other varieties. If you have specific questions
about
herbs, I'll be happy to respond personally if you send me an e-mail at
steve@landsteward.org

In future columns, I'll discuss kitchen herbs that will add pizzazz to
your
culinary efforts, as well as other ideas about making herbs a
beneficial
element of your landscape and your life.

The Plant Man is here to help. Send you questions about trees, shrubs
and
landscaping to steve@landsteward.org and for resources and additional
information, including archived Plant Man columns, visit
http://www.landsteward.org
where you can also subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter.
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