Herbs!!!! Who doesn't love them?! I added this section from my garden journal because I feel like people should know how well herbs do in Tucson. In fact, some of them actually are landscape plants that do well all year round. They are drought tolerant and sun loving. Should you try your hand at them? Absolutely! There is nothing better than picking fresh herbs from your own garden. While there are many of these plants out there for your garden, I'll be writing on a few that I have had personal experiences with in my own garden. In fact, right now I am trying my hand with about 4 varieties of basil. Basil loves Tucson or is it the other way around?:) Either way, you can be assured that I'll be including this particular plant from my garden journal. So what are the basic facts about growing herbs in Tucson? Here is some info that will hopefully get you started. But before you begin remember that herbs are sun loving.
In fact, most herbs prefer full sun -- at least 6 hours per day. Here in Tucson that is easily done. Our herbs are placed on the southern side of units. The western side can get too hot for these herbs depending on the intensity of sunlight. Herbs that will tolerate some light shade include chives, cilantro, dill, and mint. Remember that if you plant perennial herbs in the vegetable garden, keep them in a separate section so you'll be sure to avoid them during spring and fall tilling. The following is an article by Charlie Nardozzi on herbs....
Here are some examples of each type of herb.
- lemon balm
- mint (this one can handle a bit of shade)
Even though a formal herb garden is attractive, most gardeners would rather mix herbs in with other flower or vegetable plantings or grow them in containers. When growing herbs with other plantings, be sure they have enough room to expand and won't get shaded by tall plants.
Herbs make great container plants. To grow herbs successfully in containers or window boxes, you'll need a pot that has adequate drainage holes. Use fresh potting soil each year and keep the container well watered and fertilized. Try different combinations such as purple-leaved basils mixed with creeping thyme, or silver-leafed sage planted with curled-leafed parsley. Large perennial herbs, such as rosemary and lavender, can have their own pot and be over wintered indoors in cold climates. You'll be amazed at how attractive and useful these potted herbs can be.
Soil RequirementsIn general, herbs prefer a moderately rich soil. An overly rich soil (or excessive fertilizing) can lead to vigorous growth. However, many people find that the flavor of overfertilized herbs is bland, probably due to reduced essential oil content.
Many culinary herbs, such as thyme and oregano, are of Mediterranean heritage and are accustomed to growing in gravely soils. The soil in your herb garden should have excellent drainage. If yours doesn't, consider growing your herbs in raised beds or containers.
Culinary herbs with different leaf textures and colors are best grown close to the house where they can be easily harvested and enjoyed for their beauty.
Most herbs will thrive with about 1 inch of water a week, similar to other vegetable plants. Herbs in raised beds and containers will dry out more quickly than those planted directly in the garden and may need more frequent watering. Keep garden beds weeded, especially early in the season as plants are getting established. If you have fertile soil, you won't need to add much fertilizer to herbs grown in the garden. For those in containers, you'll need to add a dilute, complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 to keep the leaves green and plants growing strong. Once established, most herb plants are remarkably resistant to insect and disease attack. The oils that give them their aroma and flavor likely evolve to repel pests. However, keep an eye out for insects such as aphids, and diseases such as powdery mildew.
Harvesting HerbsHarvest herbs by cutting back a shoot to just above a leaf. This will both provide you with a harvest and encourage nice, bushy growth on the remaining plant. In general, an herb's flavor is most pronounced when it is harvested just before the plant begins to flower and in the morning when the essential oils are most concentrated.
- Heavily harvested herb plants can look untidy. Consider interplanting herb beds with annual flowers to camouflage the trimmed plants.
- Herbs can provide important habitat for beneficial insects. Dill and fennel are two herbs beneficial insects particularly like.
- Perennial mints, including spearmint, applemint, and peppermint, are very vigorous and can become invasive. Rather than planting them directly in the garden, grow the plants in containers, then sink the containers into the garden. This will contain the roots and limit spreading.
- Perennial herbs that are not hardy in your region can be overwintered indoors, then brought back outdoors in the spring. For example, in USDA Zones 7 and colder, bring rosemary and lavender plants indoors in late fall. Maintain them in a cool, bright spot over the winter, and move them outdoors again in the spring. In USDA Zones 8 and warmer, rosemary and lavender can be left outdoors year-round. " End of article. Source: http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=herb-gardening