If you are serious about trying to grow herbs then there is going to be more to it than simply getting some seedlings, throwing them in some soil and then hoping for the best. Instead, you need to understand that the soil in particular has to be perfect for the herbs in question or else they are really going to struggle although thankfully we are not talking about a too delicate eco-system that only professionals are able to control.
1. Understand the Concept of Soil Health.
One of the first things is to make sure that you understand what we mean when we talk about soil health. You see, being aware of the kinds of things to look out for when it comes to soil in general will make it easier for you to then understand the correct steps that have to be taken for your herbs to then grow successfully.
- Be aware of pH levels.
- Understand about nutrients.
- Understand about pests in soil.
- Understand that microbes can exist in soil for some time.
2. Make Sure Your Soil is Tested.
This is important but you need to go ahead and have your soil tested before you go any further and your main concern has to be the pH levels. If they are wrong then the growing conditions for the plants are also going to be wrong and you will then find that the plants will struggle. So, think about these points before you go to the next point.
- Herbs generally prefer alkaline soil.
- You can buy a pH kit yourself or send a sample away for analysis.
- The home kits will be accurate enough for these purposes.
- Knowing the pH means you can then take steps to alter it if required.
- A test can also tell you if certain nutrients are low or missing.
3. Understand the Different Soil Texture and Type.
Herbs will generally prefer soil that is quite well draining and yet this is not going to be possible if you choose the wrong type of soil to grow them in. Now, to people just starting out they can make the wrong soil choice and then wonder why herbs are just not growing, but in actual fact it is easier to understand than you perhaps realize.
- Do not use soil from your garden.
- It should be quite crumbly and not stick together.
- Soil that sticks together holds onto moisture too long.
- It has to be well drained.
- It should have sand, perlite or vermiculite in it.
4. Take Steps to Improve the Soil.
Here is the thing, there is a pretty good chance that you are going to have to take certain steps to make sure that the soil is perfect for herbs but that does not mean that there has to be wholesale changes at any point. Instead, there are some simple steps that you can take in order to improve the quality of the soil depending on what you have found out via tests.
- Improve the drainage by adding in more perlite or sand.
- Improve the pH by using boosters.
- If lacking in nutrients then work in some slow release fertilizer.
5. Be Aware of Air.
If you really do want your herb garden to thrive, then you are going to have to think carefully about the air in the soil. Now, people do not realize that air is going to play a key role in all of this but the roots need oxygen and the air is also going to help stop their feet from being saturated which then inhibits their growth.
- Air has to get into the soil and circulate.
- Soil that is too compacted will not allow this to happen.
- That soil will retain water for longer and potentially rot the roots.
- The pot plays a role in how much air get in so avoid plastic or glazed pots.
- Do not compress the soil too much at the start to keep as much air in as possible.
6. Be Careful with the Water.
Herbs need water in order to survive, but their exact requirements do vary depending on the variety that you are looking at growing. In other words, there is no one size fits all solution here and that is why it is so important to spend your time learning about the plants in advance so you understand what to do. However, these are the key points when it comes to the watering aspect.
- If you have the wrong soil then it is too easy to over water.
- The best approach is to just moisten the soil.
- Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
- Watch for water coming out of the bottom.
- Only moisten when required.
7. Be Aware of the Concept of Soil Life.
Soil life can refer to a number of different things but they all have the same thing in common, they have an impact on the ability of the herbs to grow correctly and mature into strong plants. With this, we mean not only nutrients and minerals but to also be aware of the existence of bugs and microbes that could have an impact on the plants.
- Use a quality potting compost to reduce the chances of microbes.
- Check the earlier test for nutrient levels to know if things are active enough.
- Remember that not all bacteria is going to be detrimental to the plant.
8. Consider Adding in Organic Matter.
Organic matter is going to be highly beneficial for your herb garden as plants love to get things supplied to them in a natural way. With this, one of the best things that you can use is animal manure and there is more to it than simply providing the plants with a lot of rather useful nutrients.
- Organic matter will improve the growth of your plants.
- It helps the drainage and breaks up the soil.
- It makes the soil more fertile leading to stronger plants.
9. Mulch is a Possibility.
If you have never thought about using mulch, then it is about time that you change your ideas because this approach can make a huge difference to the way in which your plants are able to grow. Mulch is organic and you should put it right up to the stems of the plants so that they get the correct benefits.
- Mulch will inject some additional nutrients into the soil.
- It will also act as a protective cover from various bacteria and pests.
- Do not cover the plants in it and just stick to the soil.
10. Do Not Forget the Fertilizer.
A lot of herbs are not going to be the heaviest of feeders but that does not mean that you can completely forget about the fertilizer. Instead, you are best to consider using a slow release version and to include it when you are potting up the plants. This is going to lead to them getting the most benefit over the longest period of time and that is a huge bonus to the health of the plants.
- Use a balanced fertilizer of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
- Never over feed as it can harm the plants.
- Some herbs only require limited feeding once or twice a growing season.
- Check the individual herbs to see what they need.
11. Consider Covering the Crops.
Herbs are an attractive proposition to all kinds of pests and you need to do what you can in order to protect your new plants from these pests. One of the best things that you can do is to simply cover the crops and this is going to help in a number of ways.
- Providing a barrier for the pests will improve the health of your herbs.
- Crops can be netting but it has to be clear to allow light to get through.
- Your watering should also not be hampered by it.
- Some people will only cover at night when it is dark.
12. Watch Out for Adjusting the pH.
As you are adding in all kinds of fertilizer and mulch to the soil it stands to reason that the pH of it is going to be able to be changed. You might also want to know that the pH of the water that you use to water the plants with is also going to make a difference so regularly checking the pH levels is important.
- Test on a regular basis.
- A home kit will be accurate enough.
- Remember that being alkaline is preferred.
13. Remember Issues with Nutrients.
Soil can vary in the nutrient levels and there is a need for you to not only be aware of those levels but to also then make the necessary changes. This is going to lead to the plants getting everything that they need in order to grow and you clearly want to give them the best possible chance in life.
- Check for nutrients on a regular basis.
- Be careful when adding them into the soil as it can lead to an imbalance.
- To get more nutrients you have to use the correct fertilizer.
So as you have just been able to see, there is nothing too complex about making sure that the soil is perfect for herb gardening. However, it is important to take your time in checking everything is perfect before you get too involved and spend all of that time growing plants that are going to really struggle from the outset.