Herbs forum: Help a novice with his new herb garden? :)

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Majikseb
Nov 28, 2017 11:11 PM CST
Hello everyone, I am new to this group and to gardening in general! I have a lot of herb plants I have been tending, but I have been having trouble with a few of them. I would be grateful if I could get a little guidance.

So I have one or more of each of the following herbs: Peppermint, Spearmint, Mojito Mint, Basil, Golden Sage, Silver Thyme.

The Peppermint and Spearmint live outside and almost died. They do not come in at night. They are barely keeping one vine each with underdeveloped leaves. They have already been repotted into pure Foxfarm Ocean Forest soil. I wasn't sure what to do, so the soil is packed tightly.

The Mojito Mint lives inside and is doing decently well, though I can tell it wants more sunlight. Its flavor is very weak but the plants seem healthy. They are still potted in the Sprouts containers and the soil they came with.

The Basil lives outside and does not come in at night. It is thriving, doing best of all my plants. Nice, full leaves and a very strong, good aroma. Still in its Sprout pots with the soil it came with.

The Golden Sage lives inside and is still in its Sprout pots and the soil it came with. It was doing great for a little while but just started severely drooping and I am quickly becoming concerned.

The Silver Thyme lives outside and does not come in at night. It is still in the container and soil it came in and it has been drying out, despite frequent watering. It is not doing well at all.

I have the following questions... Quite a few, so please bare with me! There is a lot of information out there, and I have had significant difficulty sorting through it all.

1. For container gardening, what size pots do these plants require?
2. How often should I be watering these plants?
3. What is an ideal soil combination I can make with what I already have for each herb? (I currently have perlite, vermiculite, Foxfarm Organic Ocean Forest Soil, and Organic Cactus/Succulent potting mix.)
4. I live in Southern California, North Orange County to be specific. Now that it is Winter time, should I be bringing my herbs in at night to protect them from the cold?
5. How much and how often should I be giving them fertilizers? I have several kinds of Foxfarm liquid plant foods, but I'm having trouble measuring out the right amount. I've also heard Foxfarm Ocean Soil is very strong and that you should wait a few months after planting in it before you add additional fertilizers or you could hurt your plants. Is this true?
6. I have been using Neem oil for pest control. Do you think this is an optimal choice? How should I use it and what brand/product would you recommend?

Thank you everyone, I appreciate the time taken to read and respond.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
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CarolineScott
Nov 29, 2017 9:20 AM CST
Where are you ? your questions might be answered better if we knew which zone you are in.

Majikseb
Nov 29, 2017 12:44 PM CST
I did say that I live in North Orange County, California. I believe it's zone 10a.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
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Bonehead
Nov 29, 2017 1:27 PM CST
Welcome! I am in a much colder zone than you, Pacific NW Zone 8, and have all of those plants growing well for me outside year round, except for basil which is an annual. I don't do much container growing, almost everything I have is directly planted in the soil. That works well for me as I get enough natural rainfall that I don't have to mess with watering. Thyme will get about 1-2' in diameter but usually stays fairly low. Sage will get bigger and taller. The mints will get as tall as 2-3' depending on variety, and will aggressively send out underground shoots to try to take over the world if given a chance. Many gardeners keep mints in containers as a way to keep them contained. I have just planted my mints in an area they can colonize at will with some natural inhibitors - they are planted between the side of my barn and the edge of my gravel driveway.

I use an organic granulated fertilizer 1-2x per year on most of my outdoor plants, although I have a pretty rich and loamy soil to work with. I usually fertilize early in spring when plants start poking their heads up, and again after they have bloomed and are looking a bit straggly. Sometimes I skip fertilizing entirely. I do mulch with shredded leaves and/or a compost blend.

I find that herbs are pretty pest-free, perhaps their strong fragrance discourages bugs. I've never used Neem so can't speak to that. Someone else will chime in.

Re watering, that will depend on your soil and weather. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the ground at least up to the 2nd knuckle. If the soil is dry, water thoroughly. Check at least weekly, more often in the heat of summer. Again, fellow Californians will likely add more specific info on that. I'm in a temperate wet climate and rarely give any thought to watering.

Good luck - herbs are lovely plants and quite easy to grow.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Dec 12, 2017 11:34 AM CST
Well, I know WHERE S Cali is. You have a mix of season plant herbs.
Basils? Know which one? Will grow and bloom til frost. Some aren't annuals - except in P.N.West (Ore, Wash state...) They have a long tap root, 24" for the larger ones like African Blue basil, or a columnar basil. Can reach 4' to 5' at seasons end or higher, cannot take freezes and love heat. No fertilizers needed, most herbs are weeds and die with coddling. Aromas are enhanced when the plant has to fight to survive the heat & drouth.
Mints, no matter what, my mint needs to travel to live, and dies out behind itself. Loves cooler weather like 80's to 40's, requires harvesting to keep from being leggy, handles more water than sages, and currys.
My dill began growing volunteer in abt Oct. Thats when my cool weather loving herbs start growing. It's also when I start my onions, garlics and leeks each year.
Neem oil is a fungicide. It is used against aphids and a few other bugs, but avoid use if at all possible. When you do use it for bugs, allow it to stay on a plant no longer than 30 min to an hour, then rinse off and let the plant dry. Our humidity is rarely below 50% , and usually more like 80% to 90%, so to keep my herbs growing, raised pots in a raised bed, 🙄

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My silver lemon thyme, planted 4 days before our snow, left uncovered



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kitt
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Dec 12, 2017 11:38 AM CST

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Alright Kat ~ you peaked my curiousity. Tell me what the white bloomer is???
Edited to add... sorry, I think I need new glasses... LOL
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
[Last edited by pod - Dec 12, 2017 11:39 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1601885 (6)
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Dec 12, 2017 11:44 AM CST
I've never thought of basil as a perennial. So, looked at the entries in the database. Most are classified as annuals, a few as perennials. Tried, once again, to use the Catalogue of Life, but that site is just not intuitive to me. I searched for 'ocimum' and 'basil' and got 'no results' for either. So, I remain confused. I do know basil will not overwinter in the PNW, which does not necessarily mean it is an annual, it could be a perennial that is just not hardy for my zone. Can anyone grow basil year round?
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Dec 12, 2017 11:46 AM CST
Sorry pod. Thats Mexican mint marigold and a bronze leaf mustard under my light snow. Foreground is a regular volunteer marigold, pansies, zinnia, lime basil gone to seed, chives, green onion garlic cloves, that bed is irritating me, so have been giving it the stink eye.
African blue basil reaches bush proportions in Africa, no seeds, so we propagate by cuttings in water in the kitchen sink. I believe basils need a zone 10 or more to survive year round, and keeping them from seeding?
kitt
[Last edited by kittriana - Dec 12, 2017 11:49 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1601890 (8)
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 8b)
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kittriana
Dec 12, 2017 12:20 PM CST

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I will prob regret crowding these this way, but, there is no bottom on these clay pots. The soil I use is either garden soil, or in ground raised bed soil. Potting soil is a disaster here for herbs.
I am trying a lemon thyme in a large colander with landscape fabric using cactus and succulent soil🌵as an experiment. (Only because I retired and can be home to watch it)
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Here is that bronze leaf mustard volunteer that never bolted this year- a forewarning we were having a really wierd summer.
Thumb of 2017-12-12/kittriana/102b5e

I need a mound, I can think of all sorts of stuff to plant it with! Hilarious!
kitt

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