Summer is a heady time of year. Now is when your senses can revel in a field day discovering the Great Outdoors on all levels. And summer can always get spicier. Maximize your space, work with the warm weather to expand the potential of your garden to feed all your senses, and get the most out of this season. Plus, pollinators are thrilled when herbs pop into flower. Think about it: How many herbs have you incorporated into your life? Here are a few ideas for gleaning all the aromatic, tasty, and tantalizing benefits of herbs.
Exactly what are Herbs?
If you are coming up with the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme image when you think of herbs—that’s a good start. But you can expand on the theme. The definition for herbs is fairly flexible. Herbs often feature wonderful aromas, they sometimes (but not always!) are edible, and they frequently have other uses. Plus, many herbs are handsome in a simple sort of way. Most are not flashy, but some herbs certainly have a rugged beauty. When you brush by many herbs, they send their essential oil into the air. In other words, they provide greater breadth to your gardening experience. You could sum them up as plants with added bonuses.
Beyond Ye Olde Herb Garden
First of all, you want to liberate those herbs. The traditional four square Colonial gardens are all well and good, but they aren’t the only way to frame herbs. Free them from that rubric, and you can have a field day. Sprinkle herbs throughout your garden to enhance the experience. Herbs tend to display particularly well when grouped in mass. Because their flowers are often modest, increasing the volume makes for a more meaningful presentation. You can create an airy, heady spectacle by clustering the same herb side-by-side with the same species. Or, go for a textural dialogue and weave together a tapestry of thymes, sages, basils, or whatever. Thanks to the many varieties readily available, you can go to town. Let creeping herbs—like thyme—spill over the edges of stonework to soften the lines. For herbs that you nibble often, like basil, you could grow them like a crop, filling raised beds with several options—like bushy globe basil and standard upright Genovese sweet basil grown side by side. Because many herbs are more aromatic when they are grown “lean,” consider skipping the compost when preparing their growing area. Instead, apply Coast of Maine Top Soil to their beds and find a location with plenty of sun.
Herbs in Containers
Herbs lend themselves to container gardening. They are compact, handsome, and the sort of plant you might want to tickle often when you stroll by, releasing their scents into the air. The secret for success when growing herbs in pots is to furnish generous root room. Most herbs have plentiful roots plunging down. If you confine those roots to shallow pots, they are going to be continually thirsty (and wilt often!). Don’t make those herb containers high maintenance. Instead, give herbs deep containers with plenty of root space. Sap buckets work great. Use Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Organic & Natural Grower’s Mix or try Coast of Maine Organic & Natural Planting Soil for Tomatoes & Vegetables to fill the pots.
Reap the Rewards
Growing plants with added bonuses is a blast. If the herbs are edible, take a taste. Or just admire the good scents that herbs emit to spice up your life. Whether you tuck some lavender into trough planters, plant a raised bed, or add a rose-scented geranium to your patio display, herbs make summer more sensational.
Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin. Photos also taken by Tovah Martin. Find her books and more information on her website: tovahmartin.com.