Herbs in your garden bed
If there is one group of plants that all gardens can benefit from having it would be Herbs.
Generally hardy and easy to grow Herbs have been used for centuries for their medicinal powers and deep flavours. Growing them in your raised steel garden bed on your balcony or patio, herbs will add to the overall health and production of your garden.
Like regular edible crops, there are annual and perennial herbs (grow for 2 seasons or longer), which are versatile growing well both in the ground or in pots and containers.
That being said there are a few things to keep in mind when growing with herbs.
First is to consider drainage. Herbs like mint, lemon balm, parsley and coriander love rich, moist soils but for the most part, the majority of herbs thrive in well draining soils.
So ensure that when planting in pots and raised beds there are sufficient drainage holes and if planting directly in the ground your soils are free draining (i.e. A little sand in them) to avoid root rot. Additionally don’t overwater your herbs restricting watering to when the first inch of soil is dry.
Generally speaking most of our favourite herbs originate from the Mediterranean regions of the globe, blessed with a lot of sun and dry conditions. So ensure you select a nice warm, full sun spot in your space. If your garden is heavily shaded then try planting a range of mints and some softer leafed herbs like coriander and parsley that can survive in lower light levels.
Herbs like mint like to run and spread, so much so that they can become a weed in your garden. Others such as Oregano, Thyme and Lavender will grow quite large after a few seasons. Keeping this in mind ensure your plantings are well spaced and with “runners” like mint, restrict them to pots and harvest regularly to ensure bushy growth.
Perennial herbs respond well to a light prune in early spring or autumn along with an application of compost or worm castings around the base of the plant.
When planting in pots and containers, replant every second year into larger pots to prevent herbs becoming pot bound.
All though known for their hardiness herbs can suffer from some fungal diseases like powdery mildew and fungal rust e.g. Mint Rust. To treat start by removing infected leaves, create some airflow around the base of the plant and add some compost or worm castings. If there is a major infection (40% and above) then remove the plant.
Some herbs to start with:
Annuals: Dill, Chervil, Sweet Basil, Summer Savory, Coriander, and Fennel
Perennials: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Bush Basil, Mint, Chives, Lemon Balm, Sage