Trying to come up with activity that will engage your parents and celebrate Earth Day? Consider planting an herb garden, especially if your parents enjoy cooking and would love to do so with fresh herbs. Here are some tips from The Tasteful Garden.
Herbs are very easy to grow with a little sunshine, soil that drains well, some watering, and a little fertilizer or compost. Herbs can be grown in pots, but the plants always prefer to be in the ground where they can spread out.
Choose The Right Place
The main requirement for growing herbs is placing them in the proper location. Most prefer full sun as long as regular summer temperatures don’t rise above 90 degrees. If you have very hot summers, consider planting in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, or a place that receives filtered light (such as under a tree). Check the area several times during the day to make sure it gets at least four hours of sun (e.g., 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m., or 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.).
For planting herbs, you need approximately 1 to 4 feet in diameter apiece, depending on the plant. Here are some general guidelines for plant sizes:
- 3-4 feet: Rosemary, Sage, Mints, Oregano, Marjoram
- 2 feet: Basil, Thyme, Tarragon, Savory
- 1 foot: Cilantro, Chives, Dill, Parsley
Before you plant, you need to prepare the soil. Digging with a large garden fork loosens soil that has become compacted over the years, allowing water to drain and creating space for plant roots to reach down. This is the most important step; shortcuts are disastrous for your plants. Also add compost to the soil, about an inch or so on top and then mix it in, to help prevent drainage problems and add fertilizer to the garden.
Water for Health
To have healthy, strong plants, it’s important to water them when they become dry. Most herbs like to be watered as soon as the soil located a couple of inches below the surface is dry to the touch. Since temperatures and humidity cause drying times to vary every week, check the soil often. Do not over-water. More water is not better and can lead to diseases or just poor growing conditions for herbs, which will result in reduced growth.
For harvesting, simply cut off about 1/3 of the branches when the plant reaches at least 6-8″ tall. By cutting close to a leaf intersection, the plants will regrow very quickly. Some plants, such as parsley, grow new leaves from their center. In this case the oldest branches need to be completely removed, leaving the new tiny branches growing from the center. This becomes clearer as the plants grow and mature.
Feel free to contact us at S.A.F.E. to get other suggestions to enable your parents to have a safe, healthy aging lifestyle.