One of the best ways to acquire medicinal herbs is to grow your own. Growing your own herbs confers a lot of benefits. First, it will save you a good deal of money. Medicinal herbs are expensive, but once you pay for the seeds or the plants, your harvests will be practically free. More importantly, most herbs are more potent when they are fresh. If you are using fresh herbs, your remedies will be more effective.
Many medicinal herbs are easy to grow; in fact, some are so easy that the majority of people think they are weeds. These include dandelion, lemon balm, plantain and mullein. Others do require a bit of coddling, but you can grow them successfully if you pay attention to some gardening basics.
Assess Your Site
The first step in starting any garden is to assess your site. Look over the space where you will grow your herbs. How much space do you have? You can grow a surprising number of herbs in even the smallest location. Is it located near your house or on the other side of the yard? If the site is closer to the house, you are more likely to tend it carefully than if it is further away. If the site is far from your house, make sure that you can reach it with a hose; otherwise, you will be doing all of your watering with a watering can.
One of the most important considerations is how much light your site gets. Some herbs prefer shade, some like to be in the sun and some prefer a spot where they get a bit of both.
Just because you look out the window and see the sun shining on your chosen site does not mean it is considered sunny. You must determine how long the sun shines on your site during the day. Full sun plants need a minimum of six hours of sun per day for most of the year. Part sun plants usually need about four to six hours of sun each day. Shade plants can not tolerate more than an hour or two of direct sunlight per day. Take a day when you are off work to time how much sunlight your chosen site gets.
There are also many different layers of shade. There is the light, dappled shade that is found under open trees and the deep, dark shade under mature oaks, as well as many levels in between. If your site is shady, determine how deep the shade is. That will tell you which plants you can successfully grow.
Get a Soil Test and Prepare Your Soil
Once you have assessed your site, test your soil to see if it needs any amending. Your county’s cooperative extension office will usually test your soil for a nominal fee. The test will tell you what kind of amendments, if any, you need to add before planting.
Preparing your soil is a multistep process. You first need to kill off any existing vegetation. You can do this most easily be putting down cardboard or plastic for a season. Then work plenty of organic matter and any amendments into the soil. After that, lay down drip irrigation hoses if you want.
If all you have to work with is a patio, you can still grow some herbs. Buy a few containers and get some high quality potting soil.
Choose Your Plants
Remember that not all plants will grow in all sites, so choose plants that like the conditions you have to offer. Do not put plants that like full-sun in the shade and vice versa. Perennials will last for many years, while annuals will have to be replanted each year, so decide which you want to grow.
If you select the proper plants and water them regularly, you should be able to easily grow a fabulous herb garden.