The Q&A Archives: Dying Herbs?

Question: I just started my first garden of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Everything seems to be doing well except my herbs (specifically the basil, Italian parsley, rosemary, and terragon). I have them in a rectangular planter (4 per planter). They were inside in my bay window in the kitchen but then I noticed the leaves turning brown (I watered them maybe 2x a week). I thought maybe they were not getting enough light (the herbs seem to be leaning toward the window). I moved them outside for full sun exposure. It has been raining and when the soil looks dry, I would water them (so they are now getting more water than they did inside). No improvement, in fact they look worse. The basil leaves look almost transparent. I'm not sure if I'm giving them too much sun/water. What's the rule of the green thumb - how often to water and when should I harvest them? My chives are growing well and I harvest them frequently (they grow like weeds!). Not sure what to do about the others. Please help. Thanks!

Answer: Yellowing leaves and transparent leaves are usually the result of overwatering. Now that your herbs are in full sunshine, I'd recommend pinching or cutting them back by about one third. This will remove the affected leaves and encourage healthy new growth. Herbs generally grow like weeds when they get adequate sunshine and most prefer soils on the dry side. So stick your finger down into the soil before you water. If it is stil moist an inch beneath the soil surface, they won't need to be watered for another day or two. If the soil seems dry that far down, it's time to water. If you regularly pinch your herbs back and harvest the leaves every 3-4 days the plants will constantly renew themselves and you'll always have healthy new growth to harvest. The more you pinch, the more new stems and leaves your plants will produce. Enjoy your garden!

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