Fresh herbs spoil us with their wonderful aromas. However, to keep them healthy and vigorous, there are a few points to consider when growing them.
Whether in the herb spiral in the herb garden or in a pot on the windowsill: growing herbs is not complicated at all – nevertheless, you should take a few important tips to heart when planting and caring for them. If you avoid the following mistakes, your kitchen herbs will thrive especially lushly and nothing will stand in the way of a rich harvest.
Mistake 1: Wrong substrate
If you plant herbs in the wrong soil, they will not develop optimally – and in the worst case, they may even die. Therefore, please note: A large part of the herbs belong to the weak-harvesters and love a loose, water-permeable substrate. Pure potting soil is too dense and too rich in nutrients for many species. It is better to choose a special soil that is adapted to the needs of the seasoning plants. For pot culture, for example, there is high-quality herb soil that is rather low in nutrients and well-drained. It allows easy rooting, but can also retain moisture well. Alternatively, you can mix herbal soil yourself: Three parts garden soil, two parts sand and one part compost have proven to be a standard recipe – the proportions can be easily adjusted according to the preferences of the individual herbs. Also make sure you have good drainage when creating a herb bed (see mistake 5).
Mistake 2: Wrong location
Most herbs like a warm, sunny to semi-shady spot. If they stand in too much shade, their aroma cannot develop well. Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano are particularly sun-loving. They like to be in full sun for at least half a day during the season. Herbs with large, green and soft leaves such as mint, lemon balm or parsley are more moisture-loving and also feel comfortable in partial shade. Only typical woodland herbs like woodruff or wild garlic can actually thrive in shade. In any case, make sure to plant the herbs in an airy location: In “stagnant air” fungal diseases and pests can spread more easily.
Mistake 3: No or wrong pruning
If you simply let half-shrubs such as sage, lavender or rosemary grow, they will senesce over time and break apart unsightly. To ensure that they remain compact and sprout vigorously again, the herbs should be pruned regularly – the best time is in spring, as soon as there is no longer a threat of night frosts. Whether pruning rosemary (see video below) or cutting lavender, make sure to always stay in the leafy area when pruning. If you cut into the perennial, unleafed wood, the half-shrubs usually sprout only hesitantly. Pruning is also worthwhile for herbaceous herbs such as basil, peppermint or cut garlic – they sprout new shoots and provide fresh, aromatic greenery.
Mistake 4: Too little planting distance
Another mistake that tends to happen when growing herbs is planting too densely. If the seasoning plants are too close together, they will be stunted in their development – they will be less productive and the aroma will also suffer. Therefore, adhere to the recommended planting distances. Cilantro needs a spacing of between 15 and 20 centimeters, oregano and thyme between 20 and 30 centimeters. Also note that some herbs do not get along well as neighbors, such as parsley and other umbellifers like dill or chervil.
Mistake 5: Neglect winter protection
Mediterranean bedding herbs are not hardy in heavy, winter-wet soils. Those with heavy soils should therefore be sure to loosen their herb beds with sand, lava or pumice for better drainage. To allow rainwater to drain away more quickly, herbs such as rosemary or thyme are also often planted slightly elevated. Perennial herbs in pots are provided with winter protection in good time so that the roots do not freeze through. To do this, pack larger planters individually, smaller pots can be placed together in a box lined with straw or leaves. A Styrofoam or wooden plate protects against the cold of the soil. Especially frost-sensitive herbs overwinter indoors.