The Q&A Archives: Cultural Information

Question: I'd like to receive cultural information on the
following herbs:
Basil, Genovese and sweet
Chives, common
Dill, common
Marjoram, sweet
Mint, spearmint
Oregano, Greek
Parsley, plain
Sage, common
Thyme, common

Answer: Sounds as though you're thinking about growing an herb garden. For best growth, the basics include a sunny site, amended well-draining garden soil, and regular watering and pinching back to keep the plants bushy.

Here are some specifics for each of the herbs you've listed: Basil, Genovese and sweet require full sunshine. These annual plants grow 1'-2' tall and should be pinched back regualrly to keep them producing new leaves.
Catnip (Neteta cataria) is a coarse leaved, gray-green perennial with coarse leaves. Provide full sun and rich, moist, well draining soil. Plants reach 1'-3' in height and flower July - September.
Chives, like all onions, are bulb plants with hollow stems. Plant in rich, moist, well-draining soil, in full sunshine. You can harvest by clipping the leaves off a few at a time. New leaves will sprout from the roots.
Dill thrives in full sun, in rich, well-draining soil. It can grow to 3' tall. The leaves are feathery and the flowers are produced at the tops of the stems. You can allow the flowers to go to seed, or you can harvest the flowers before they go to seed. The feathery leaves can also be snipped off and used in cooking.
Marjoram prefers light, dry, well-drained soil and full sunshine. This herb is sometimes substituted for Oregano in cooking. Plants grow 1' tall and flower in August and September.
Spearmint will grow in almost any situation and can become invasive. Provide average soil and cut back the flowers before they develop seeds or you'll have spearmint plants all over your garden!
Greek Oregano has the same cultural requirements as marjoram. Provide full sunshine and light, dry, well-draining soil. Snip the leaves and stems to use fresh, or dried.
Parsley grows in full sun to partial shade in moderately rich, moist, well-drained soil. Harvest the springs anytime during the growing season. If you allow parsley to go to seed, new plants will sprout in the garden the following spring.
Rosemary is one of those easy-care perennial shrubs that grows best in full sunshine and average, well-draining soil. Rosemary produces attractive flowers and aromatic leaves. Cut the tips of the shoots back to keep the plant bushy.
Sage likes light, well-drained soil, and full sun to light shade. Plants are hardy perennials with woody stems, and pebbly-looking leaves. Harvest the leaves at any time during the growing season and clip the shrub back each spring to encourage new stems and flowers.
Thyme thrives in light, dry, well-drained soil in either full sun or part shade. This is one of the least demanding herbs you can grow. Harvest the leaves before flowers appear, or cut the entire plant down to about 2" from the ground and it will regrow.

For additional information on growing and harvesting herbs, Rodale's Encyclopedia of Herbs is an excellent resource. (The ISBN# is 0-87857-699-1)

Good luck with your new herb garden!

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