Growing Culinary Herbs
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Growing culinary herbs in your kitchen’s windowsill or right outside your kitchen door is a tempting thought. Imagine the convenience of having an herb garden within the arms reach of your cooking area. All you need to do to execute this idea is design a window box or group of planters for your kitchen.

Location

The first rule of growing culinary herbs is to plant them as close to your kitchen door as possible, so you can access them with ease. Even on a rainy day!

The second rule is to plant your herbs according to the amount of sun they need. S outhern and western exposures are good for thyme, coriander, French lavender, bay laurel, basil, lemon verbena, dill, parsley, chives, sage and rosemary, as they need full sun. In contrast, northern and eastern exposures work well for shade loving plants like parsley, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, chives, borage, and Cuban oregano.

Soil Preparation

One of the greatest misconceptions about growing culinary herbs is that they will grow in almost any soil. On the contrary, they require soil that is a mix of equal parts of potting soil, peat moss and vermiculite. They prefer a nice healthy, loose or friable soil. Good drainage is a must and their coarse roots benefit from chunky organic matter.

Pruning The Culinary Herb Garden

Herbaceous herbs such as oregano, chives, sweet fennel, winter savory, bee balm and mint, die back to the ground in winters. Thoughtful pruning is not necessary for these varieties. You just need to chop them off to the ground when you harvest or when you cut back to get rid of the flowers.

Evergreen herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage require pruning at least once a year. If you are not cutting them often for your kitchen, then either in fall or early spring, you need to prune the branches that are old, dead or are crossing other branches.

The life cycle of annual herbs like basil, chervil, cilantro and dill demands that they produce seed each year before they die. The finest way to have an ongoing supply of most of these herbs is to plant new plants every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Once they start to make flowers it is difficult to make them return to the production of leaves.