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Plant Care

Herb Care

Herbs

Growing Herbs: General Information


Most herbs do best when grown in full sun/partial shade Herbs can be grown outside in pots or directly in the garden; indoors in window sills or under grow lights Herbs provide great fresh additions to many dishes. They also provide many medicinal properties Annual herbs include: Dill Basil Lemongrass Parsley Cilantro/Coriander Rosemary Perennial herbs include: Lavender Mint/Spearmint Chives Oregano Lemon balm Thyme Tarragon Sage Sweet Marjoram Tarragon If growing outdoors, annual herbs such as basil can be sown every couple of weeks to insure a continual harvest throughout the summer and even into the early fall, this is known as succession planting Perennial herbs can be harvested from as needed throughout the growing season At the end of the growing season, seeds from annual herbs can be saved for planting next year, but keep perennial herb plants in the garden as they will produce again the following year.




Growing Herbs Indoors


Herbs can be grown indoors all year round. When starting seeds indoors, be sure to use sterilized pots and trays as well as new potting mix. Don’t use old potting mix or soil from outside. When cooler weather hits, outdoor herbs can be potted and brought indoors. The same goes for herbs you've got growing indoors during cooler months, they can be moved outside in the spring and summer. When bringing plants indoors follow these steps; Repot plants, provide them with fresh potting mix in a well draining pot/container Remove any dead growth. Check for pests and disease, if present avoid bringing indoors. When moving indoor herbs outdoors follow these steps; Harden off plants beforehand by leaving them outside for a few hours a day, gradually exposing them to more elements such as sun, wind, rain etc. Herb containers should have drainage holes in the bottom or be deep enough that you can add rocks too. This will prevent containers from becoming waterlogged and limiting the likelihood of root rot. Root rot, precisely what the name indicates, rots of a plant rot Common cause is over watering and poor drainage. If a container has no drainage, water has nowhere to go. Be sure to place tray under your container or place container on a surface that can’t be damaged by moisture. Indoor herbs need as much light as they can get. Place herb container in a bright window, either on the window sill or on a stand in front of the window. South facing windows are the best choice, especially during the colder months when daylight is limited. If you do not have a bright window, supplement with artificial grow lights. Nothing extravagant is necessary, there are many compact cost effective systems available. Herbs need a minimum of 5-6 hours of light a day. Plants grown indoors often lean towards the light, the result is a plant that is stretch out and growing towards the window. To prevent this from happening, we recommend during the plant once every few days to keep it growing straight. If you are starting herbs from seed to grow indoors, you may want to sow more seeds than you hope to end up with because some herbs have unreliable germination rates You can easily snip off the seeds that you don’t want to grow once they have germinated Temperature. Herbs will grow best in your home when the temperature is between 65-75o F (18-24o C) and the humidity is at 30-50%. If you’ve got your herbs in a window sill, make sure that there isn’t a cold draft hitting your herbs. Watering Indoor herbs need to be watered enough that they do not dry out. Take special care not to over water them. Water only when the top layer of soil starts to dry out, the lower layers will still be damp, so water enough to dampen the top layer. Plants should be checked on regularly. Harvesting Most herbs will benefit from regular harvesting, this will encourage new growth Don't harvest more than ⅓ of the plant at one time if you want it to continue producing In general herbs being harvested for their leaves should be harvested before the plant flowers. Harvesting before the plant flowers, insures optimum flavour and aroma Many herbs tend to lose flavour or become bitter when the plant starts flowering Herbs can be harvested for using fresh or for drying and using later Remember to harvest haften to encourage new growth Always harvest using clean scissors or pruners




Basil


Basil is an annual, famously used in tomato dishes, pasta sauces, pizza, salads among other dishes. It is one of the most popular herbs grown by home gardeners. It belongs to the mint family of herbs and has a lovely fragrance to it. Its flowers also attract bees. Basil and tomatoes go together like peanut butter and jelly, so why not plant them together! Many gardeners find that planting basil with tomatoes helps to deter pests and even makes tomatoes taste better ○ Many insects such as hornworms and aphids find the aroma of basil offensive, therefore they tend to leave tomato plants alone when basil is near. Basil will grow outdoors until the first frost, frost will kill basil plants. Basil is a warm season herb ○ Basil seeds can be started indoors about 4 weeks or so prior to the last frost for your area. * if growing indoors, with no intention of moving basil outdoors, seeds can be started anytime of the year ○ Basil can also be planted directly in the garden ¼ inch deep and 12 inches apart once nighttime temperatures are 70 0 F or above ○ Basil likes both warm air and warm soil, so there is no need to rush to plant seeds or to transplant young plants to the garden ○ Transplants need to be hardened off before transplanting, and planted 12-18 inches apart ○ Both seeds and transplants should be planted in a full sun location Basil should be keep moist ○ It is not good to let basil plants dry out. Basil that is left to dry out can become bitter. Mulching plants helps with moisture retention- plants will not dry out as fast ○ During periods of hot and dry weather, be sure to deeply water plants regularly Fertilization ○ Basil needs a lot of nitrogen ○ Fertilize plants every 4-6 weeks for plants grown indoors and every 2-3 weeks for plants growing outdoors in pots (mix water soluble fertilizer to half strength) ○ Organic fertilizers like worm casting are excellent options and highly recommended ○ Be sure to follow the directions of any fertilizer that you use, over application can actually do more harm than good ○ Amend soil before planting with compost or other organic matter (such as worm casting) Pruning basil ○ Basil plants will benefit greatly from a bit of pruning ○ Your plant will actually yield more if it is regularly pruned ○ Start pruning your plant when it reaches a height of 6” - cut the middle stem back to just above the second set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow additional branches and become more bushy ○ As the plant grows cut back any flowers that begin to blossom to encourage new growth Harvesting ○ You can begin harvesting basil when plants reach 6-8” in height ○ The more you harvest the more it grows ○ Basil should be harvested regularly to encourage leaf production ○ Tip: harvest basil in the morning for best taste. Basil leaves lose moisture throughout the day Growing basil indoors ○ Basil can easily be grown indoors in containers ○ Plant in well draining nutrient rich soil ○ Basil will not tolerate being soggy, so make sure that container/soil is well draining ■ Roots should not be kept soggy because they are prone to rotting ○ Basil grown indoors will need to be fertilized. Basil used for flavouring food should be fertilized with an organic fertilizer ○ The pH of soil used for growing basil indoors should usually be between 6.0 and 7.5 ○ Lighting ■ Basil, like all other plants, needs adequate light to grow well indoors. ■ Basil requires 6 hours of natural light each day. Place basil in or near a window sill, preferably south facing if possible ■ If you can not provide basil plants with enough natural light you may require the use of fluorescent. Using artificial lights to grow basil will require using them longer, 10 hours a day will be required compared to the 6 hours of natural light. Using both natural and artificial light can be done as well. There is nothing wrong with alternating between the two light sources.




Chives


Chives have a mild onion or garlic like flavour depending on the variety ○ All parts of the plant are edible Chives grow upright and have hollow leaves that grow to about 12” high Chives are one of the most popular herbs grown in home gardens Chives are perennials, meaning they come back each year ○ They are cold tolerant and spend the winter months dorment Belong to the allium family (onions, leeks, scallions, garlic) and feature grass like foliage with either a white or purple blossom on top ○ Unlike other member of the allium family, chives are grown for their leaves not bulbs They are a very low maintenance plant that can be grown indoors and out ○ Many gardeners plant them in decorative container or in landscaped gardens as they are an attractive plant that comes back year after year How to grow chives ○ Chives can be started by seed or divided from an existing plant ○ When starting from seed, start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, after frost plant them out ○ Chive seeds are the size of a poppy seed and should be planted ¼” deep, in well draining soil in either a cluster or in a neat row. ■ Chives need to be divided every couple of years. This provides the perfect opportunity to give chive plants to friends or family. Do so in the spring or the fall ■ Seeds need temperatures between 20-25 o C to germinate and usually appear within 3 weeks of sowing ○ Plant chives in full sun to partial shade ○ Chives do not need to be thinned unless they are in a very crowded pot or container Fertilize ○ Chives can be top dressed with organic matter such as worm castings in the spring and again in late summer. Liquid fertilizer can be used as well, use according to label instructions Harvesting ○ Chives do not have a set harvest time but generally speaking they can begin to be harvested from 30 days after transplanting or 60 days from seed sowing or when the leaves reach 6” in height ○ To harvest simply use a shape pair of kitchen scissors to cut leaves from the base of the plant. You want to make your cuts 1-2 inches above the soil line ○ Be sure to cut back any flower stalks to the soil line to stop the plant from developing seeds. This will also help the plant to continue to produce leaves ○ The flowers can also be consumed. They appear in late springtime ○ Chives are often used fresh, raw and as a garnish ○ Chives pair well with egg and potato dishes among many others ○ Fresh chives can be stored in the fridge for up to a week if kept wrapped in paper towel in a sealable container or bag Tip: chives are a good companion plant for carrots are they deter pests like the carrot root fly Chives can easily be grown indoors in a sunny window sill or under a grow light ○ Chives can be started from seed or a clump can be dug up, potted and brought indoors. Remember to keep an eye on moisture levels and be sure not to over water ○ The key is to harvest often to encourage continual growth




Thyme


Thyme is a hardy perennial herb. Thyme is a woody herb, meaning that the plant is supported by wood stems opposed to soft stems like that of basil. Thyme originates from the mediterranean and features small fragrant leaves. Thyme is an easy to grow fuss free herb that produces tiny pink, purple or white flowers that are well liked by bees. Growing thyme ○ Thyme prefers hot and dry conditions over cool and damp ones ○ If you’ve got bad soil, thyme doesn’t care, it will grow just about anywhere, but prefers sandy soil that doesn't have a lot of nutrients. It has even been known to grow between rocks and even in gravel ○ Plant thyme in a sunny location and if planting indoors, choose a window that receives a lot of light or take advantage of a grow light ○ Thyme can be temperamental when growing from seed because it is very slow and seeds germinate unevenly. ○ Many gardeners find it easier to start thyme from cuttings from already established plants ■ Cutting should be started 6-10 weeks before expected last frost date if you intend to more thyme outside ○ Thyme, whether from seed or cutting should be started indoors and then transplanted outdoors when the ground temperature reaches 70 o F ■ Be sure to harden off and transplant to well draining soil ■ Thyme will not fair well in soggy soil, if your soil is saturated, hold off on transplanting until it drys out further ○ If you are growing thyme in a container, consider planting it with rosemary as it as similar watering needs ○ Cuttings from a outdoor thyme plant can be planted indoors in pots so that you can have fresh thyme available year round ○ When growing thyme indoors, be sure to place it in a sunny window sill or a room that receives a lot of sunlight ■ These indoor plants can be moved outdoors for the warmer months and then brought back inside when the weather turns cool Plant care ○ Water thyme only when soil has dried out completely ○ Thyme plants do not require any special care when it comes to temperature and humidity ■ Thyme will thrive during the summer months ○ Pruning thyme should be done in the spring and summer to promote and contain growth ○ Thyme is cold hardy and will survive cold winter months, consider mulching around the plant when the ground starts to freeze to further protect it ○ Plants that are 3-4 years old should be divided because the older a plant gets it becomes more woody and the leaves tend to lose some of their flavour ○ Thyme is not prone to any serious problems or pests, however it can develop root rot it it’s planted in soil that is too soggy




Pardsley


Parsley is an easy to grow herb once its germinated ○ Germination can take up to 4 weeks Parsley is considered a superfood, its full of antioxidants, high in calcium, iron, and vitamin A, C and K Parsley is native to the Meditrannian Parsley is known for its ability to cleanse the palate and freshen breath after a meal In ancient times, Greeks used parsley to make crowns to honour sportsmen when they were victorious. In ancient times parsley was used for medicinal purposes, including in treatment of bronchitis and digestive problems. It is often used as a garnish in many dishes There are two types of parsley, Italian and curly ○ They are both grown as annuals ○ Italian parsley has flat leaves ■ When a recipe calls for parsley it is the flat leaved variety that is commonly used ○ Curly parsley has curly leaves Growing parsley ○ Parsley belongs to the same family as carrots, celery, dill and parsnip ○ Parsley grows well in zones 3-9 ○ Parsley can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for your area or planted directly in the garden in spring when the soil is workable and has reached a temperature of 70 o F ■ Sow seeds ¼ inch deep, 6-10 inches apart when sowing directly in the garden ○ Transplants can be planted in the garden 2 weeks after the danger of frost has past ■ When starting seeds indoor to move outdoors, be sure to harden off beforehand ○ Parsley is slow to germinate, typically taking 3 weeks or longer, so be patient ■ Be sure to keep seeds moist, not soggy, at all times, do not let seeds dry out ○ Parsley requires nutrient rich well draining soil ■ When planting transplants to the garden we recommend placing worm castings in the whole with the transplant ■ Fertilize once a month to encourage healthy leaf production ○ Plant parsley in a location that it is going to receive full sun ■ If you live in a region where the summers are very hot, provide parsley with some shade during the hottest parts of the day ○ Water parsley regularly ■ Parsley will bolt and go to seed if it is left to dry out ■ Parsley plants will also turn crispy if left to dry out ■ Mulching around plants in hotter/drier climates will help with moisture loss ○ Pruning ■ Be sure to deadhead flowers and cut leaves regularly to encourage new growth ■ Pinch off any flower stalks that appear as soon as possible. This will help the plant to maintain its flavour and to continue to produce leaves Harvesting ○ Pick leaves regularly to ensure constant supply ○ Begin harvesting leaves when stems have three separate and distinct heads ○ Harvest the outer leaves first, leaving the inner ones to develop further ○ Freshly harvested parsley will last longest if stems are kept in water in the fridge ○ Parsley can be frozen or dried and used throughout the year ■ Frozen parsley will not be able to be used as a garnish, but rather in soups, stews and sauces ○ Flat leaf parsley is best if torn or roughly chopped and used for cooking where as the curly leaf type is best is finely chopped or used as a garnish Growing parsley in containers/indoors ○ Growing parsley in containers is easy and it allows you to bring them inside when the weather turns cold ○ You can also start parsley by taking cutting of an outdoor plant and bringing it indoors to grow ○ Be sure to choose a container with drainage ○ When growing in containers make sure you use a potting mix rather than soil from the garden ■ Don’t pack the soil too tightly in the container ○ Fertilize every few weeks with liquid fertilizer or use worm castings ○ Place the container in a sunny window sill, parsley prefers 5-8 hours of sunlight a day. Southern exposure windows are always the best choice ■ Rotate your herb container daily to prevent parsley (and other herbs) from leaning towards the light. This will keep plants growing straight ■ Additionally the use of artificial grow lights will aid in your plants growth if not enough natural light can be provided




Cilantro


Cilantro is an annual herb Cilantro is also commonly known as coriander ○ Cilantro is the stems and leaves of the herb ○ Coriander is the seeds (which are commonly used as a cooking spice) It can be grown both indoor and outdoors Cilantro is a quick growing herb, flushing throughout the cooler months Growing cilantro ○ Cilantro prefers well draining soil ○ Plant in an area that receives morning sun with some afternoon shade ■ Cilantro leaves are delicate and can easily be burned by the sun ○ Cilantro grows best in the spring and the fall ○ Cilantro is quick to bolt in the warmer months so be sure to keep an eye on it and snip off any flower stalks as soon as they appear, unless of course you are growing cilantro for its seeds, coriander ○ In the spring, cilantro can be seeded directly in the garden every 2-3 weeks to ensure a steady supply ■ Cilantro has a short life span ○ Seeds should be sown ¼ inch deep ○ Seeds can take 1-2 weeks to germinate ○ Temperature needs to be between 55-68 o F for germination Growing cilantro indoors ○ Plant cilantro in a container that has drainage ○ Use well draining soil, such as a potting soil that is light and fluffy ○ Do not use soil from the garden, it is far too heavy and may contain bugs or soil borne diseases. It’s always best to start fresh with new potting mix ○ Cilantro, like all other herbs and plants for that matter likes the light, be sure to place container in a sunny window sill ■ The more like the better when growing indoors in the cooler months ■ Supplementing light with an artificial source such as a grow light is never a bad idea ○ Although a sunny window sill is the best place for your cilantro be sure there are no cold drafts Harvesting ○ Begin harvesting cilantro when it reaches 6 inches in height ○ Cilantro grows to full size in as little as 45 days (it is one of the fastest growing herbs) ○ Cilantro can also left to go to seed, the seeds coriander can then be harvested




Oregano


Oregano is a hardy perennial herb that belongs to the same family as mint It is an easy herb to grow in the home garden and comes in many varieties including Greek and italian oregano Oregano is native to the Mediteranean region and to west Asia It is hardy in zones 4-10 Growing oregano ○ Oregano is an easy to grow herb that can be grown from seed or from cuttings ○ Oregano prefers full sun and well draining soil. Sandy or loamy soil is best suited for growing this herbs ○ Seeds can be planted indoors a few weeks prior to the last frost date or can be sown directly in the garden after the danger of frost has past ■ The earlier you start seeds indoors for transplant in the spring the more established the herb will be at the time of translate which means you’ll be harvesting sooner ○ Oregano seeds are very tiny, plant by placing seeds on soil surface and lightly sprinkle with soil to cover ○ Germination can take anywhere from 7-14 days and occurs best if soil temperature is at minimum 15 o C ○ As fall approaches plants can be divided and moved indoors for use over the the winter, the rest of the plant can be cut back ○ Regularly dividing oregano plants when they become big helps prevent the plant from becoming woody and less productive ○ Oregano prefers drier soil than many other plants ■ Watering is best done deeply and infrequently Water deeply and then let the soil dry out before watering again Harvesting ○ Harvesting of leaves can be done at any time ■ But is usually done for the first time when the plant reaches 6 inches in height ○ When the plant begins to bud, it is a sign that you should begin harvesting ■ This is when oregano leaves are most flavourful ○ Oregano can be used fresh, frozen or dried after harvesting ○ Harvest often to encourage new growth




Rosemary


Rosemary is grown as an annual herb in zones 7 and colder. In zones 8-11 it can be grown as a perennial herb/shrub It is native to the Mediterranean region It is used in seasoning many meat dishes and is also used by cosmetic manufacturers because of its appealing fragrance Growing rosemary ○ If you like in an area that never receives frost than you can grow rosemary all year round, but if you live in an area that does receive frost you can grow rosemary as an annual herb outside, them dig it up, pot it and move it indoors for the winter ○ Rosemary can be started from seed, or cuttings taken off of an already established plant ○ Plant rosemary in full sun, in well draining soil ○ Direct seed after danger of frost has past or a few weeks prior to the last frost date for your area ■ Ideally the soil temperature for planting should be around 70 o F (21 o C) ○ Rosemary likes to be watered evenly, but take special care not to over water ■ Let the soil dry out between watering ○ Rosemary is capable of withstanding high temperatures and a wide range of humidity ○ Plants can be pruned regularly to maintain a nice shape ○ Rosemary is not a heavy feeding plant so it does not require much if any fertilizer ○ If growing rosemary in a pot year round, repotting is recommended once a year, usually in spring ■ Like other plants, rosemary needs to be repotted as it outgrows its pot. New potting soil must be used as the soil in the old pot will have broken down through watering and root growth Harvesting Rosemary ○ It is best to harvest rosemary in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing ○ Use small garden shears or scissors to cut through the branches ■ Cut through the tender part of the new stem rather than the woody stem near the base of the branch ○ When harvesting rosemary, never cut more than ¼ of all the stems available on the plant ■ This will insure that the plant will survive and continue to produce more sprigs (branches) ■ After harvesting the sprigs, remove the needles from the stem for use ○ Rosemary is best if used fresh or it can be dried and stored for later use




Marjoram


Marjoram is a great addition to any garden, it’s known for attracting both butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden It is an easy to grow herb that can be planted in both the garden and in containers Marjoram resembles oregano in appearance. In fact they both belong to the mint family of plants ○ Technically marjoram is a sub-species of oregano, however they are not the same ○ Marjoram is sweeter and more floral, whereas oregano has a strong spicy flavour There are three varieties of marjoram; Sweet, Pot and Wild Marjoram ○ Sweet Marjoram (variety we have in greenhouse Dec. 2020) has pink flowers and is best used in salads, soups and sauces. ○ Wild Marjoram is known as common oregano Growing Marjoram ○ Marjoram is a tender perennial, but most gardeners grow it as an annual because it does not tolerate cold or freezing temperatures ■ It grows best in zones 6 through 11 ○ Plant in an area that receives full sun, marjoram will tolerate partial shade only as long as it receives sunlight for at least 6 hours per day ○ Marjoram likes fertile well draining soil ■ Soil that holds too much water will kill marjoram plants ○ To grow from seed, morgoram is best started 6-8 weeks before your last frost date ○ Sow seeds just below soil surface ○ Seeds take around 10 days to germinate ○ Once germinated keep plants in a bright window or under grow lights ■ Rotate seedlings daily to prevent them from reaching for the light ○ Keep seedling moist ○ When it’s time to plant marjoram out in the garden (after danger of frost has past) be sure to harden it off first





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