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Both the creation and the tending to of an herb garden are relatively simple jobs, but they can bring huge rewards in the superb flavours that can be brought to your table directly from your garden. Follow these guidelines to ensure you experience the pleasures of tastes from around the world as a result of your own growing.

First you must decide on a location for your herb garden. Try to find an area that gets plenty of sunlight, preferably eight hours, but six will suffice. Try to pick an area separate from other plants growing in the garden, as some of your pungent herbs may overpower them. A good idea is to cordon off an area with bricks, maintaining a permanent physical barrier. It is a matter of personal preference for a casual or formal style, but try and plan to keep each type of herb separate, and take into account their sunlight and irrigation requirements. Plant those requiring less sun for growing in the shadiest areas of the herb garden.

Once you have picked a location, check that the soil is well draining. If it isn’t you can raise the beds using compost. Do not use an overly rich soil, and find out if it is alkaline or not. Herbs in general prefer alkaline soils. You will find that it is best to directly plant some seeds into the herb garden whereas with others it is better to either buy a small plant and transfer it to the garden, or sow in trays indoors and then transplant at a later date. Examples of herbs that like direct planting from seed are chervil and coriander. Others such as mint and oregano are better transplanted into the herb garden as young plants.

During the growing season (the summer months) it is advisable to layer three inches of mulch around the herbs. Mulch is a mixture of wet straw and leaves that enrich and insulate the soil. This will provide sufficient protection for herbs such as mint or chives in the winter months against temperatures well below freezing. The mulch should be removed in early spring to allow new growth. With other herbs such as basil it is best to move them indoors for these months. Try and ensure that they receive adequate sunlight though.

There are some other factors that determine how well herbs are prepared for the winter months. It is generally accepted that it is best not to fertilise or prune heavily after early August. This is because the new growth that both these techniques would encourage would not be sufficiently mature to survive a frost. Light pruning is acceptable though. Also, do not keep the soil excessively wet, especially if you have lots of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano growing there. Try and imitate their natural climate by letting the soil dry out before watering. On the other hand do not starve your plants of water as this can weaken their ability to fight frost. A windbreak is a good investment, especially in preventing winds over drying herbs such as tarragon in the summer months.

By following these simple gardens you can successfully create and maintain an herb garden. Happy growing.