Herbs are a garden commodity beyond their scent and flavor. They provide visual appeal, a means of pest control and a lower-maintenance garden than many fruit and vegetable crops and ornamentals. You can adopt an herb growing system that incorporates some of the benefits of herbs, or adopt a planting style that makes use of every possible advantage herbs offer.
Companion planting, integrated pest management and permaculture gardening all incorporate herb-growing systems designed to make use of most, if not all, of the evolutionary advantages that herbs have to offer. Container herb gardens are used when herbs can't be planted in the ground, or when it isn't as convenient to plant them in the ground. Formal herb gardens are grown primarily for visual and olfactory appeal.
Container gardens allow the herbs to be grown in the home or in places where garden space is not available. Companion planting serves to use herbs to benefit other plants. Integrated pest management uses herbs to attract predatory insects to the garden or to deter pests. Permaculture practices ensure that herb gardens are located where they're most useful to the home environment. Formal herb gardens may provide herbs for home use, but focus on aesthetics more than usefulness.
Integrated pest management allows gardeners to reduced the use of harmful pesticides because the predatory insects the herbs attract control the pest population. Companion planting provides similar benefits, along with better-tasting vegetables, plant support and soil nutrition for neighboring plants. Permaculture herb gardens offer less long-term labor in exchange for intensive initial planning. Formal herb gardens are showier than the other herb growing systems. Herbs in containers can be moved as necessary.
Using natural, mutually beneficial systems to enrich soils, grow plants and raise animals negates the need for expensive, toxic and pollution-intensive fertilizers and pesticides. At the same time, it reduces the labor of constantly applying these products. The benefits are so great in these systems that some formal herb garden growers will strike a balance between aesthetic appeal and smart herb planting.
The systems for herb growing affect the planning, labor and maintenance required to grow herbs.The herbs' ability to grow rely on the environment, and not on the system used to grow the herbs. Soil quality and drainage, available sun, temperature and water availability dictate the speed of herb maturation and production.