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extremely acid or alkaline; a soil nearly neutral is best for most herbs. A pH readingbetween 6.5 and 7.0 produces the best herbs.Most herbs do not require a highly fertile soil. Highly fertile soils tend to produceexcessive foliage that is poor in flavor. Herbs grow best when soils have adequateorganic matter.In preparing average soils, add several bushels of peat moss or compost to each 100square feet of garden area to improve soil condition and help retain moisture.
When selecting a site for an herb garden, you must consider drainage. None of theimportant herbs grow in wet soils, but a few, such as mint, angelica and lovage,thrive in fairly moist soils.If the only area available is poorly drained, you need to modify the area. Buildraised beds or install underground drainage tiles to grow herbs successfully.
Once you select a site, cultivate the soil to a depth of 12 to 18inches, then level it. If only a shallow layer of topsoil exists abovehard subsoil, remove the topsoil temporarily. Break up the subsoil,adding organic matter. After improving the subsoil, put it back.Even though the topsoil may be better than the subsoil, the topsoil may also needadditional organic matter.
Few insects or diseases attack herbs. In some localities, rusts infect mints. In hot,dry weather, spider mites damage some herbs.Aphids attack anise, caraway, dill and fennel. Grasshoppers and certain caterpillarsattack herbs when conditions are right. Control is usually not necessary until younotice a problem.
You can grow many herbs from seeds. If possible, sow the seeds in pots or flatsindoors in late winter. They need a sunny window and cool temperatures (60º F) forbest growth. Treat young plants for the garden just as you would treat young salviaor pepper plants.Because some plants take longer than others to develop, start those with smallerseeds first, preferably in February. You may later transplant them into individualpots and plant them in the garden after danger of frost is past. The finer the seeds,the shallower you should sow them.A few herbs do not transplant well. Sow them directly into the garden. Plant anise,coriander, dill and fennel directly in the garden and don¹t transplant them.For direct seeding outdoors, plant in spring after all danger of frost is past and thesoil is beginning to warm up. Make the soil into a fine, level seed bed. As a generalrule, sow seeds at a depth of twice their diameter.
Cutting, Division, Layering
Some established herbs multiply asexually by cutting, division or layering.
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