drtmama
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newbie with many questions for starting herb garden

I want to try growing herbs this year. I live in southern VA. Since this will be my first attempt at herbs I wish to start small.

I'm thinking a few clay or plastic pots on the front porch steps, which would be best? How about hanging baskets? And what about wooden window boxes?

What abou the type of soil? It is best to use store-bought potting mix and is there a specific kind for growing herbs? Do herbs need fertilizer?

What herbs would be the easiest ones to start with? Should I buy the already started plants like they sell at Lowe's? I would like to eventually start from seed packets AFTER I find out if I like this type of gardening or not.

I do have a choice between a sunny location and part shade. What do best in each?

Can you grow herbs any time of the year? What about critters? I guess there must be some creatures, (squirrels an mice?) that may see my herbs as snacks?

Would love all the help I can get. Please keep your answers simple as I am not familiar with all the "expert" gardening lingo!!

Thanks.

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JustPeachy
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Drtmama,

The most important part of starting any garden is to grow what you like and no more than you can care for. If starting your herb gardening from seed sounds a like a little too much to start with you can buy many types of herbs in garden centers when the season comes around.

I have not tried growing in window boxes or hanging baskets, but clay and plastic containers have worked well for me in the past. I keep a rosemary bush in a container on my back patio all year long in a clay pot.

If you start with a good soil your plants will be able to get nutrients from just the soil for a while. Once you notice a lull in their growth it is time to feed. I know most would frown at this, but for container plants I don't mind giving them a little 'plant crack' (aka Miracle Grow). I do this because I can get pretty high yeilds of herbs like basil towards the end of the season and make enough pesto to last all winter long.

I think that starting with established plants that you know you like the flavor of is a great way to start an herb garden. Good luck to you! Hope I helped...
:flower:
~Emily
;)

drtmama
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Location: va

Thanks, Emily. It was nice to hear from someone close to my neck of the woods. I am in southside VA, about 45 minutes south of Lynchburg.

Thanks for your input on growing herbs. Now I can't wait to see what my local garden center will have to plant this spring!

I think I will use plastic pots that I have stashed away in the shed.

Maybe I'll try some oregano, basil and parsley for starters.

Jackie :) :)

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hendi_alex
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Many herbs are quite easy to grow from seeds. If I were you, would give consideration to the previous post and buy a few plants for that first season. But also use the first season as an experiment for starting easy to grow herbs from seeds. Basil, parsley, cilantro are all very easy to grow, and I find that with a little supplemental light will grow well if taken indoors during the winter. There are also many easy to grow perennials that would likely be more practical to buy as plants: oregeno, thyme, rosemary are among them. We use large amounts of basil, parsley, and cilantro, but only use small amounts of all other herbs as needed in some specialty dish. Basil is great on California style pizza, is great on Bruschetta (made with fresh motzarella, tomato, basil one of our favorite summertime snacks), great just directly in a salad, great for pesto, and great for so many other uses. BTW did I say that basil is GREAT! We also use large amounts of parsley. Don't know where that nobody eats parsley joke originated, perhaps relating to that tasteless decorative variety. I keep Basil and parsley growing year round. Parsley will usually overwinter here in zone 8, but does better with a little protection. Cilantro is a little more delicate. We have one primary use for Cilantro, but oh what a use. It is a key ingredient in a home made salsa that was introduced to us by our daughter. Once you make this very simply salsa, you will never be able to go back to the stuff in a jar. Here is the recipe, which has been passed from hand written note to hand written note for a long time. Please try it. The stuff is unbelieveably good. We blend ours until it is much finer texture than the bought stuff, but that is a personal preference.

Salsa

Add the following to a food processor

¾ bunch cilantro – rough chopped

¼ white onion – medium chunks

1 bunch green onions – cut in 2 inch strips

1 jalapeño – rough diced, include a few seeds for heat

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles

1 tablespoon salt

1 – 2 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped, smashed

juice of one lime, or to taste

Blend in food processor until desired texture and consistency are reached.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Timlin
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Location: Zone 3 Canada

I grow many of my herbs from seed. It's such a joy to care for them from seed to bowl so if I were giving advice I'd suggest you buy one or two types of seed and grow a few, it it doesn't go well you still have the option to buy your seedlings.

I have a small herb garden and I love it BUT I also have two large containers on my deck that I pack full of herbs the same as you would pack any plants into a container to have a full to busting display. I do feed them weekly once they are established and I just love running my hands over the plants as I go and come from the house and enjoying the infusion of scents that hit the air and remain on my hands.

Parsley is a cinch to grow from seed and they are bi-annual so they will come back the second year and you will always be ahead of the game. All types of basil are very easy to grow from seed and there are so many different types to chose from when you grow from seed that you have a fun time experimenting. I fill my greenhouse with the scent of herbs by growing them from seed and running my hands over them each time I enter the gh.

Herbs are just fun! They need full sunshine (think Italy) and soil that drains/dries easily. Go to an on-line catalogue, dream and order some seeds to play with. Gardening really should be fun and interesting....go for it! It doesn't cost a fortune to raise from seeds and you'll feel so connected to your babies that way. :wink:

Timlin
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To properly answer your questions..........I buy a good quality "seed starting" soil for potting them up and then move to a transplant soil to move them up once they have grown to their first set of real leaves (so they have at least 4 leaves on the stem before transplanting).

I never use garden soil for growing my spring seedlings or my containers as the boughten stuff is sterilized so won't introduce anything I'm not wanting around my seedlings and in the containers the boughten mixes are light weight where if you use garden soil it will be far too heavy.

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JustPeachy
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Everyone made a great point! Definately try starting some seeds on top of buying a few established plants. You may have a green thumb you didn't even know was there! :D

~Emily
;)

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rainbowgardener
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herb garden suggestions

I like perennial herbs because they come back and get bigger! (Except of course as many people have noted you have to have basil. I grow my basil in pots, a red or purple and a green together, makes a beautiful container). My herb garden doesn't get full sun (most herbs really like sun), but I have found that sage, lemon balm, fennel, comfrey, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and mints all tolerate the part sun and my herb garden gets better every year with minimal care. Plant dill, fennel, and/or parsley (all in the same family) for swallowtail butterflies to lay eggs on. When they hatch out your plant will be decimated, but who cares when you have a garden full of gorgeous butterflies! :D

drtmama
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Thanks so much to all my new helpful gardener friends!

I am so excited to get started on my very first herb garden. As suggested I am going to start with just a few favorites, planted in clay and plastic pots using the sterilized potting soil you get at the garden centers.

Happy Planting to all! :D

Jackie

JeanneGrunert
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Hey Jackie,

I'm also in south central Virginia! I'm a writer and gardener - most of my writing is about herbs. I'm a bit obsessed with them.

I started my herbs under lights in cell packs in the basement from seed. I bought mostly seeds from Burpee and Parks. I did overwinter an oregano plant I bought for about $1 off the rack at the discount store in Farmville, Rose's. It looked horrible when I bought it but oregano is so tough I knew it would be fine, and it is. I also managed to overwinter garlic chives, which I love, and have a nice patch of them.

Basil thrives in our climate, as did my oregano, chives and parsley. I've already transplanted parsley and sage outside. I bought a pot of rosemary at Lowe's and that is doing okay outside, but with the warmer temperatures predicted this week it should do better.

Waiting under the lights to be hardened off and go into the garden in May are:

Thyme
Two kinds of basil - Genovese and Cinnamon
More sage
Catnip (for my kitty)
Peppermint
Dill
Calendula

I grew lavender from seed last year, and most of the plants survived. I have three types but forgot to label them. It looked like one is the most hardy. I just wish I knew what it is!

I wrote an article on which herbs can survive in part shade. Here is the link: [url]https://www.ehow.com/how_4857498_grow-herbs-shade.html
[/url]. Most other herbs need full sun. With the strong Virginia summers, you also should think about water - how you will water them, either by hand or some sort of irrigation system. I've grown herbs in pots on the deck too and they do just fine.

If you visit my blog, I've got some links there to other gardening articles I've written.

Good luck with your garden and have a BEAUTIFUL day!

Jeanne
Jeanne - Seven Oaks Farm
Visit the Seven Oaks gardening blog!
https://sevenoaks-jeanne.blogspot.com/

drtmama
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Hey Jeanne,

Thanks for your reply.

I did finally plant my first herbs! I am growing some sweet basil, greek oregano, thai basil and curly parsley in a large plastic pot. I put it on the front steps and they are doing well so far.

I would like to start some lavender too. Is it too late in the season to start some seeds outdoors? And do they need full sun?

I will check out your blog too!

Thanks.

your neighbor in VA - Jackie

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rainbowgardener
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lavender

Not too late to start the lavender, but it is perennial and slow growing, so your plant won't be very big by the end of the season. But it is hardy and if all goes well will come back next year and be a good sized little shrub! It does want full sun and not over watered.

annafaie
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I've had tons of luck with Italian Parsely and found many, many dishes to use it in when I cook. No luck with Thyme as the squirrels dug it up EVERY DAY! Basil was difficult last year and is proving a bit better this year but still a bit harder than Parsely.

After reading this thread I think I will also plant Dill, Garlic Chives, Bee Balm and Lemon Balm!!! Can I plant any of these in the same container or should they be separate?
Thanks! Anna

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rainbowgardener
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herb container

Well the bee balm gets big... at least 3 feet tall and spreads to form a good sized colony, so it really needs a decent sized container to itself. I have one that's been in a container on my deck for several years. The container is totally packed and every once in awhile I have to dig some out so it doesn't choke itself. But it is wonderful, because the hummingbirds come right up on the deck to come to it! The lemon balm doesn't get as tall but will eventually fill a pot. But all the things except the bee balm could go in one BIG container for now and in the fall get divided up...

drtmama
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Hey, Rainbowgardener,

I like the idea of planting the bee balm too! Love that it attracts the hummingbirds!

I don't think I have ever seen what bee balm looks like. I'll have to "google" it and look at some pictures. Got any you can share with us?

Thanks

Jackie

The Helpful Gardener
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Yep, I have 'Gardenview Scarlet' bee balm throughout the front borders and it is a hummer magnet. I do not use a feeder so when I get hummers it is all about the flower power. That is their favorite in my yard, but my native hydrangea, [url=https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/PlantFinder/Plant.asp?code=K520]H. arborescens [/url] is also popular and it got bigger this year...

At Mom's the [url=https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/72930-product.html]'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' fuschia[/url] I gave her years ago (she overwinters it in her garage) is the hands down fave, although her other fuschias give it a run...

Containers are fun, and I wouldn't do mint any other way, but some perennials like sage and oregano, do best in soil if you can find a spot...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon May 18, 2009 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

Wimhoff
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Location: Pennsylvania

Growing from seeds

Hey everyone I'm new to the forum. Been a herb gardener for years, sometimes good sometimes bad. I do have a hard time starting from seed, this year I used pellets to seed in, it was the worst, I only had luck with lettuce in the pellets.

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