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You too can Grow an Italian Herb Garden
Italy is said to have some of the best cuisine in the world and, at the heart of that cuisine are their famous herbs. Growing your own organic Italian herb garden is sure to be rewarding and delicious. Whether indoors or outdoors, as additions to your vegetable garden or on their own, Italian herbs are a delight to both grow and eat.
You may already be familiar with a number of Italian herbs. There is a good chance that you have some Italian herbs growing in your garden and an even better chance that there are some in your kitchen. Basil, fennel, rosemary, oregano, and parsley are all household names in Italy and around the world.
How to Plant and Grow Fresh Basil
When planting basil, pick a site with full sun. Basil prefers warm to hot weather and a pH of 5.5-7.0. Basil can be planted in pots as well as directly in the ground; requires low watering and should be propagated by seed. Basil’s most common enemies are the Japanese beetle, slugs and snails. Start seeds inside and transplant when a few inches tall.
To avoid an infestation of slugs and snails, line your garden with copper strips or wire mesh. The charge that builds up on the copper surface, repels both pests away from your garden as they are unable to move across it.
Basil must be pinched back as it begins to flower as once it flowers it loses flavour. Pruning back the flowers will also encourage it to grow bushier. Leaves should be cut in the morning after the dew has dried. Do not wash basil leaves, as they will lose their flavour.
Tips for Growing Fennel
Fennel is a perennial, but should be divided and re-planted every few years as the plants tend to lose flavour as they mature. They are propagated from seed and enjoy full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Fennel plants require light but even watering and have an enemy in the Carrot Rust Fly, which can be avoided by planting in a windy location.
A Dash of Parsley is Always a Good Idea!
Though parsley is technically a perennial, it usually goes to seed in its second year and so is grown as an annual. Because parsley is difficult to transplant, it should be sown directly into the ground or into large, well-drained pots.
Parsley should be planted in full sun or partial shade. If growing in a vegetable garden, plant near asparagus, corn, peppers and tomatoes. Make sure that the soil is nematode free, as these are common pests where parsley is grown. If you do have a nematode problem, try introducing ladybugs and predatory nematodes into your garden.
Now Let’s Add a Dash of Oregano
Oregano should not be harvested until it has flowered, as this is when its flavour is the strongest. Oregano prefers full sun and matures best in hot weather. Oregano is a perennial and can spread very far; you may want to take this into consideration when determining whether to plant in pots or in the garden.
Everyone’s Favorite: Rosemary
Italian herbs make excellent compliments to your existing vegetable or flower garden. The fragrance of these potent herbs will make you feel like you are taking a trip to the Mediterranean every time you stroll through your own garden. Growing these herbs locally and organically is one of the best decisions you have made all year.