Follow these 5 rules to have fresh culinary herbs providing a bountiful supply all summer long.
Why look any farther for fresh flavors than your very own garden?
A culinary garden can be the ultimate inspiration for budding cooks and gourmet chefs alike. Like any recipe, start your kitchen garden with the basics.
Think light, placement, planning. Place plants of similar size and water needs together, for example. You wouldn't want your woody rosemary to crowd out your herbaceous chives. More tips to get you cooking...
Location, location, location
Close to the kitchen, not to close for aesthetics. You want your culinary garden to be close enough to cut quickly. But remember, you'll be cutting your herbs often, so the plants might not be the prettiest. If it will bother you to have cut-back plants as your first view out the door, rethink placement.
Shoot for the sun
By and large, herbs hanker for the sun. Choosing a sunny locale gives you the best chance for overall success with your culinary garden. Added to that, they just taste better, with more nutrients and richer colors that add up to better flavor.
When herbs flower, their leaves tend to grow bitter. After that it's unlikely to go back to producing leaves. The best strategy? Be sure to nip flowering herbs so the plants put energy into producing more leaves. Once the herbs flower and go to seed, they are done for the season. This does not apply to flowering herbs such as lavender and catmint, where you want to enjoy the flowers.
Good soil is the foundation to any successful garden. Make sure that the ground your herbs grow in is fertile and retains moisture but also drains well. Well drained soil is critical for most herbs, especially the sun loving Mediterranean herbs. You can improve any soil type by adding well-rotted compost, which can be dug in or left on the soil surface between your crops.
Timing is Everything
Stagger your harvests and enjoy more home-grown produce for longer. This is especially true for annual herbs like basil and the biennial parsley. Perennial herbs thrive from regular pruning so make sure they get it, especially when it comes to flowering (see above).
For vegetables, quick-growing crops such as radishes can be sown little and often to spread harvests out. Prolific croppers such as pole beans, chard and zucchini should be picked little and often to encourage more produce to follow. With a little careful planning one crop can be followed immediately with another, so that the ground is continuously occupied and achieving its full potential.
These rules may be simple but they’re incredibly effective at improving results and yields. If you have a must-follow rule you garden by then please share it below.