Organic herb gardening has become very popular, and it is easy to do. Unlike grocery store products, you will know your herbs are fresh and pesticide free. Organic herbs taste better, they smell better, and they will save your money in the long run.
Herbs can be grown inside as well as outside and fall into four categories: medicinal, ornamental, aromatic and culinary. Just because an herb is placed in a particular group, doesn't mean it only has one purpose.
For example, borage is an edible herb that tastes like cucumber, offers a pleasant aroma and is used medicinally as a muscle and joint anti-inflammatory. Borage could also be used as an ornamental with its striking blue blooms that attract butterflies and honeybees.
Medicinal, Ornamental, Aromatic and Culinary
People have been growing herbs for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Various herbs can be used in salves, poultices, and tinctures. Herbs help treat a wide range of ailments from stomach aches to dandruff. The fresh juices from the jewelweed offer quick relief for itchy skin, especially rashes from poison ivy, and boiled hollyhock petals can reduce swollen mucous membranes as well as relieve sore throats and sinus inflammation.
Licorice, hyssop, and chamomile are considered ornamental herbs because they are pretty in the garden. Aromatic herbs such as lavender are used in soaps and perfumes. Other edible herbs such as fennel, dill, lemongrass, and mint have pleasant aromas. Most people are familiar with culinary herbs such as basil, bay leaves, chives, and cilantro.
Indoor and Outdoor Gardens
Indoor herb gardens can be just as successful as outdoor gardens if conditions are optimal. The starter herbs need to be planted in containers that have a hole in the bottom for proper drainage. Keep the soils moist, but not soggy. If the roots of the herbs are soaking in water, then the plants will die. It is usually a good idea to mix some sand or gravel in the potting soil to help with drainage.
Place the herbs in a south-facing window to ensure they get enough sunlight, which is usually at least 6 hours a day. If you can not guarantee 6 hours, then you will need to buy a grow lamp. You will want to rotate the potted herbs at times to ensure that the whole plant is receiving sun. Herbs that do well indoors include parsley, chives, basil, and mint. By doing these simple steps, you can have a healthy indoor herb garden year-round.
Outdoor herbs need the same conditions as indoor gardens. You need to make sure the garden plot and soil have good drainage. If it doesn't, till a generous layer of compost into the garden soil. Not only will it help with drainage, but it will also fertilizer the young plants.
Space the plants about 5 to 6 inches apart. Add mulch around the base fo the plants to cut down on weeds and help retain moisture. Make sure your herbs get at least 6 hours of sun every day and remember to water your plants frequently, but do not drown them.
For pest problems in the garden, there are several herbs that are natural bug repellents. Borge 'Blue' will repel insects, but at the same time attract predatory insects including ladybugs. Catnip and beautyberry will repel mosquitoes, and lemongrass will repel flies, ants, and gnats.