Herbs are plants grown for medicinal use as well as cooking, perfumes and cosmetics. Herbs generally originate in tropical regions, such as the Mediterranean. Because of this, most herbs prefer full sun and well-drained soil, although a few herbs will grow in light shade. Most herbs are simple to care for. If given proper care, herbs will thrive in your garden for many years.
Mark the location for your garden bed with stakes and string. Your herb bed should be in full sun with well-drained soil.
Take soil samples from your proposed herb bed by digging 1 qt. of soil from up to 10 locations throughout the garden. Mix the soil samples and allow them to dry. Collect 1 cup of soil in a plastic bag and take it to a county extension service. An agent at the extension service will help you to send your soil to the nearest approved soil lab, such as a state-college run lab. Your soil tests will return within three weeks, and will tell you your pH, soil structure and recommended soil amendments for your soil.
Break up the bed with a rototiller to a depth of 12 inches. Spread the recommended soil amendments and amendment amounts over the soil in a 4-inch layer. Good soil amendments for herbs include compost, peat moss and composted manure to break up clay soil and retain moisture and nutrients in sandy soil. You should also add lime to raise the pH of soil or sulfur to lower the pH. Most herbs prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Mix the amendments into the soil with a rototiller.
Plant herb transplants and seeds in the garden once all danger of frost has passed. Plant herb seeds twice as deep as the seed’s width at the widest point. Fine-grained herb seed, such as chamomile, should be dusted over the surface of the soil. Open a planting pocket for the transplant that is twice as wide as the root ball of the plant, but no deeper. Fill in the space around the root ball with soil.
Mulch around herbs to prevent weeds from becoming established. Weeds can compete for light, water and nutrients that herbs need to thrive.
Harvest herbs regularly to keep them trimmed back. This will help herbs to maintain a compact, dense shape and size.