Herbs are grown for their flavor, fragrance or health benefits. The leaves and flowers enhance the taste of vinegars, dips and cooked foods, as well as the smell of bath soaps, perfumes and potpourris. Herbs have also been used for thousands of years in folk medicine, and more than 25 percent of modern drugs contain extracts from a large variety of these plants. Growing herbs in Tennessee is relatively easy, and by following a few basic guidelines you will be able to enjoy fresh herbs throughout the growing season.
Plant the herbs in early spring in areas with well-drained soil that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
Test the soil if you don't know its pH. Take a sample of the soil to your local extension office for testing. Herbs require a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 to grow well. Buy and add recommended nutrients to the soil, if necessary.
Break up the soil with a garden hoe or tiller if you're planting in rows. Mix in organic compost and dig holes and space according to package directions, using a handheld shovel. Top with soil and water until the soil is thoroughly wet but not muddy.
Dig holes for young herb transplants two to three times as large as their root balls, and mix in organic compost with a handheld shovel. Space the holes according to the planting instructions and maturity size. Remove plants from their containers, loosen the roots, and then set in the holes. Backfill and top with soil to the plants' original planting depths. Water the plants well.
Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic mulch around the transplants to help conserve moisture and prevent weed growth. Straw, hay, hardwood bark and sawdust make excellent mulching material for gardens. Apply mulch around seedlings only after they have grown 2 or more inches out of the ground.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hoe or tiller
- Handheld shovel
- Organic compost
- Organic mulch
- Insecticidal soap spray
- Consider whether your herb varieties are annuals, biennials or perennials before selecting planting locations.
- In areas where well-drained soil is not available, plant herbs in raised beds or large pots with drainage holes.
- Commercial-enriched garden soils and potting mixes can be substituted for organic compost during herb planting.
- Nitrogen-based fertilizers can decrease the production of essential oils in leafy herbs, leaving them with diminished flavor and smell. Do not overfertilize.
- Do not use chemical insecticides on herbs. Although most herbs are resistant to insects, check herbs regularly for insect damage and spray with insecticidal soap when necessary.
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