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Planting a Herb Garden

There are numerous styles of herb gardens to choose from.  Formal and circular herb gardens have been features throughout Europe but herbs are also stunning additions to patios and entertainment areas when planted in tubs and planter boxes.  Perennial borders filled with perfumed herbs are wonderful when their fragrance is released as they are brushed past and many have such stunning foliage that they can be incorporated into the landscaping just for their colour. 

Herbs with small, tough leaves such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and santolina cope extremely well in full sun and very free-draining soil and will also manage with strong ocean winds.  In fact, these harsh conditions will develop the oils within the leaves and so improve their flavour and aroma.  These plants will still do well in a touch of shade or with a little more dampness but will not be as high in oil content.

Herbs with leaves that are larger and more lush such as basil, coriander, parsley and mint have a high water content and need a rich, damp soil that has been built up with compost to a depth of about 30 centimetres.  These plants prefer a touch of shade and a little more shelter and will thrive with regular applications of liquid fertiliser.

There are hundreds of plants that are considered herbs and choosing them for your garden can be confusing.  Consider following these simple steps to get you started:

Herbs are generally tolerant of most conditions and will provide a good harvest with very little effort but fertilising these plants periodically will definitely produce better results.  Manures and composts mixed through the topsoil of the herb garden will provide much needed nutrients and encourage microbial activity.  Liquid fertilisers applied once a fortnight to the soft, lush herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander will encourage them to produce more leaves after harvesting.  The general rule with these herbs is that the more they are harvested, the more they should be fed.  Thin leaved herbs with a high oil content such as rosemary and thyme have a better flavour if they are not overfed, so all that is required is an application of controlled release fertiliser twice a year.

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