Herbs season your food and provide essential oil to scent cosmetics or produce life-saving medications. Herbs are the darlings of the home garden because they are easy to grow and they smell wonderful when you brush up against their foliage. Most herbs can be grown almost anywhere by following a few simple guidelines.
With the exception of basil and parsley, most annual herbs have similar growth requirements. They all prefer slightly sandy, well-drained, less-than-fertile soil and full sun. Herbs grown under conditions other than this will produce less potent oils and therefore be less fragrant and less strong tasting than those grown under their preferred conditions. Annual herbs, such as oregano, marjoram, fennel, savory and dill all benefit from growing together in a bed separate from garden vegetables that prefer more fertile soil.
Hardy Perennial Herbs
Hardy perennial herbs such as sorrel, thyme, sage and lemon balm grow best in their own bed, separate from the annual herbs. Because of their perennial nature, these types of herbs require slightly richer soil than annual herbs. They must manufacture enough food to keep their roots alive through winter to grow again the following year. Add a small amount of organic matter such as peat moss and compost to their growing bed, about 10 to 20 percent of the amount you would add to the same size vegetable bed.
Tender Perennial Herbs
Tender perennial herbs, such as rosemary, lemon verbena, lemon grass and sweet bay, do not survive winter in areas where freezing temperatures regularly occur. Grow them in their own separate bed, either planted in the ground for the growing season and then dug and potted up to be overwintered indoors or left in their pots and grown outdoors during frost-free weather. Treated in this manner, it is not unusual for specimens of these herbs to live for many years.