We have a herb section in the middle of our garden as we grow fresh spices for cooking along with teas and tinctures to keep us healthy. I started off mainly wanting to have fresh herbs to cook with. Now, we have a library of reference material on herbs by reputable herbalist and we are much more interested in the healing capabilities and qualities derived from our herb garden.
The hardest part for me initially was figuring out how to identify the sprouts as they came up. I’d kill them as I weed until it got easier to recognize them. Almost all of the images available online are of blooming, fully mature plants which do not look very much like a mature plant when they sprout out of the ground. I really wish that the seed packets would put pictures of what the sprouting plants look like. The cultivation success rate improves along with the ways we utilize the herbs as we learn more about them.
It is important to figure out which herbs are annuals needing careful seed retrieval to replant and which were easy self-seeding varieties. Also, which herbs are truly perennials hardy enough to survive our winters in the Inland Northwest climate. Do I need to protect them with a straw covering over winter? If it dies over winter I put straw over the next year to see if it can survive. It has become easier as we dedicate areas for each herb allowing the perennials room to grow and the annuals places to drop their own seeds.
The herbs established in our garden so far include basil, borage, caragon, caraway, chamomile, dill, elderberry, horseradish, hyssop, lavender, mints (lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint), mullein, oregano, parsley, poppy, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, valerian, yarrow. Following posts will show information and photography of each one of these separately along with information about successfully cultivating.
We had a lot of transplanting to do when the soil thawed this spring. Our goal is to promote native berries and herbs to grow outside the garden when possible. Which reserves garden space for those that can not survive outside.
Yellow Cone Flower Bush
My wonderful friend gave me a start for this beautiful flowering bush. Last year it was full of yellow flowers all summer long. However, it decided that my herb garden is heaven and grew to 8 ft tall and wide in diameter. A case of yellow flowers on steroids! I planted it in the middle of my mint patch and by the end of the season, the mint was struggling to survive.
I spent a day getting to know a shovel intimately. Digging around it to expose a root 5 ft in diameter. Had to cut it into three sections to be able to get it into the wheelbarrow. One was moved to an open area by the strawberry patch, one was put next to a pine tree inside the drive-in gate and the third section was put outside the walk-in gate as an experiment to see if the deer will leave it alone.
Next are the chokecherry starts from the Spokane County Conservation District (SCCD) a couple of years ago. Check out this gardening outlet for starts that are reasonably tested for success in our climate. You can sign up for the SCCD newsletter at their website.
The chokecherry is big enough to survive the deer. See them at the lower slope of the herb garden near the retaining wall. so we had to transplant them. Do you know about the choke cherry, here is some interesting info about them?
We removed then rebuilt the retaining wall to be able to dig up the chokecherries.
The elderberries are one herb I love to keep on hand to keep flu and colds at bay. We moved them outside the garden this year too.
The gooseberry has the most vicious thorns I have ever experienced. It is being moved out of the garden as a matter of self-preservation for me. I have grown weary of being poked and cut by those vicious thorns. If the deer like this berry, then they are welcome to it.