View Full Version : Growing herbs - any pointers?

Soror V
02-24-2009, 01:59 AM
Greetings All

Where I live, the ground is totally crap. Originally it was an old river plain (many moons ago) so the soil is largely clay. Also previous owners have neglected the garden so I am in the slow progress of trying to bring it back to life again - battling the scorching Summer temperatures and lack of rain that we get here.

However some plants are running wild - in particular my wormwood, rosemary and lavender.

I have recently purchased some comfrey, chamomile, and echinacea seedlings. Just wondering if anyone has any tips on where I should plant them.

I do have a shaded area - my fernery so the more "delicate" plants won't be scorched in our sunshine ... and when/if it rains, I am intending to make an attempt to bring the soil back to life.

Failing that, I will keep the plants in pots if they are happy for that.

Has anyone else had success growing herbs in crap soil? Or have any pointers how to build up the soil ((I am a bit of a "L" plater when it comes to gardening as well.

Bb - Soror V

02-24-2009, 12:27 PM
you can change the soil by tilling the soil with a tiller and adding sand to the soil this adds drainage to the soil ans also some top soil and really work it into the soil with a mechanical tiller the old pitch fork is just to hard and you can do a larger area at this point also add some organic fertilizer

after some time you can add some worms you can buy these online or at a fishing store

Soror V
02-24-2009, 10:34 PM
Thanks all - I realise that I have a bit of work cut out for me after years of neglect. I grew my first pumpkins last year ... it was so exciting as despite them being small, I could still eat them :) I am spreading a lot of pea straw around as well as mulch as that is supposed to help the soil (or so I have been told).

02-25-2009, 12:29 AM
Most herbs do prefer a light, well-drained, crumbly soil, but most will grow satisfactorily in fairly heavy soil provided there is good drainage. Before planting, dig the soil to a depth of about 25 cm. Remove all weeds and break up clods to bring the soil to a moderately fine texture. If the soil lacks humus, place 5–10 cm of organic matter on the surface and dig in to spade depth, a tiller can work wonders here. At the same time, apply animal manure, blood and bone, or a complete fertiliser. Agricultural lime or dolomite would also be beneficial if mixed in at the rate of about half a cup to the square meter, check your PH first though. If possible, prepare the soil several weeks before planting.

02-25-2009, 10:31 PM
Will the fertilizer blood and bone work on white sage. My crop last year was pitiful and I am trying again this year.

White sage is not as resistant to cold weather as sweetgrass, and so outside of its natural habitat (They occur on dry slopes in coastal sage scrub, chaparrel, and yellow-pine forests of Southern California to Baja California at less than 1500 m elevation) it needs to be brought inside for the winter in pots or used as an annual instead of a perennial. White sage also needs excellent drainage, as it won't stand much excess water,it does like dry soil, and full sun. All things considered, using an all-natural fertilizer is the best way to ensure that your white sage will grow effectively outside of their natural growing areas. Avoid using chemical fertilizers that can easily burn the plants. Rather, an all-natural fertilizer such as bone meal or blood meal is appropriate in order to replace a wide variety of soil nutrients that white sage require, without affecting soil microbes that facilitate plant growth. So yes, it's really a good one for white sage!

If you have too much clay you will also do good adding sand to help with the drainage. Like I said a tiller is a big help, especially with tough soils!LOL

Soror V
02-26-2009, 01:01 AM
I wish I could dig, but I have weak arms. I don't have an herb garden close to my house, as of yet.

Have you thought of possibly getting something like a half wine barrel? I have a number of these close to the house filled with herbs, my jasmine and a passionfruit vine. Lucky for me where I live I am fairly close to a number of wine growing regions so can pick them up relativley cheap .. but a large pot probably would also do the trick.

BB - Soror V

02-26-2009, 01:04 AM
I have no clay, just good dirt from compost and sand on the back of my house.Well then they should do pretty good with the bone or blood meal.

Have you thought of possibly getting something like a half wine barrel? I have a number of these close to the house filled with herbs, my jasmine and a passionfruit vine. Lucky for me where I live I am fairly close to a number of wine growing regions so can pick them up relativley cheap .. but a large pot probably would also do the trick.

BB - Soror VThe wine barrel is a good idea!

03-17-2009, 11:15 AM
I'd love to grow my own herbs if I had a bigger garden. The soil is ok where I live. But for now I'm using the easy option- ebay. :)

Red Serpent
03-17-2009, 03:27 PM
Awww this is all so nice - you all made me feel nostalgic now. I live in a flat at the moment and I miss our garden at home. Still I couldn't go without plants in it so I thought 2 or 3 would be nice ... I got just a bit carried away: now I have 14 that are not for eating and parsley that I put in meals - and I'm planing to plant: oregano, basil, celery, pepperoni, marjoram, rosemary and bay laurel :rolleyes: - they are not magickal but my skills in keeping them alive and prosperous are much better :D
I have them in pots and over the winter I keep them in my kitchen (yes, than it looks like a little jungle since it's rather small) and I move them on the balcony when it gets warm outside. My recipe for planting is:
pot - put medium large stones on the bottom of it for drainage - cover 1/4 of the rest of the pot with soil, 1/4 compost and the rest with soil again :) - i do this both for plants or seeds, but with seeds I use yogurt cups and (re-plant them later) cover the top of the cup with a ... hm how do you call it hm hm ... transparent pvc foil like this: http://www.lorencic.hr/0cache/fb948735f936e6991365d7b22ca542c5.jpg
It keeps warmth and moist on relatively same level all the time which is good for new plants since they don't like temperature changes. Last year I planted Zucchini this way and when it grew 3-4 cm tall I put it in a bigger pot on my balcony and it was amazing and delicious!

Red Serpent
03-17-2009, 06:36 PM
:D well I don't blame you: pumpkins are nice - yes, you can use this every time you plant seeds: flowers, vegetables, you name it. It is your own small indoor green house. There is usually a tip on that bag of seeds when you should plant them this way.

Here are the details:

-plastic yogurt cup
-that kind of transparent foil
-small wooden stick (the one you use to make meat on the spit - about 10-15cm long ... you should use it because the leaves of your plant MUST NOT touch the foil; it will ruin them)
-rubber or cotton lace

Put soil and compost in the cup, but u don't need stones here - just make few holes on the bottom of the cup. Oh, remember NOT to fill the cup entirely with soil!!! It should be around 1cm from the edge of the cup. Plant your (pumpkin:D) seed and cover it with soil. Now water it - it would be better to sprinkle the soil with water because it makes it more easy for the plant to come out. When the soil is wet enough, stick that wooden stick into the soil near your seed and cover it all with that foil (making a little tent) and make sure that it goes well over the edges of the cup and now tie that with lace so it would keep the foil from moving.

Your seed is planted and will soon grow into a beautiful young plant - oh, one more thing: you won't need to water it as much as other plants since it has that foil-shield over it, but you'll see when it needs more water. The foil will become damp and have water drops on the inner side, but that's normal - u just wipe off larger drops next time u sprinkle the soil with water so mold wouldn't grow. Do not cover and uncover the foil more than necessary - you want as little as possible to change the temperature under the foil.

Here, for those that are more visual types like me, I made you a sketch of how it should look like:
http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/4951/p3170007f.th.jpg (http://img18.imageshack.us/my.php?image=p3170007f.jpg)

When your sweet little plant is this big, just re-plant it where you want it to grow:

Red Serpent
03-17-2009, 07:18 PM
You are very welcome :D - I'm glad I could help. And all credits should go to my mom - she taught me that.
Oh and I almost forgot: I'll plant two more: 2 months ago I received seeds (a friend sent them to me from Germany because I couldn't find them in my country) for cherry tomatoes and Chinese snake cucumbers - they need little space to grow and are really delicious:
http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/cherry_tomatoes.jpg http://www.heilfastenkur.de/images/produkte/Saatgut___Salat_Gurken__Chinesische_Schlangen_.jpg

One more thing: you can probably find already made plastic boxes for this that you can re-use every year, so u don't use cups - it is a bit harder to find it here, but since you are in America, you probably have it in every store that keeps things for gardening. Just beware: if they don't already have holes on the bottom you should be very careful with watering!

04-13-2009, 03:11 AM
Those are some nice tomatoes!

I'm getting some mandrake(old world) and belladonna seeds. I think it might be too late to start belladonna's though. Maybe not if i keep them as indoors.

All my expierence at growing stuff is from college, and i was growing what most kids in college grow ... LoL. I'm getting a bunch of other seeds too, maybe i can sub something for the belladonna's or just stick to mandrakes. Anyone else looking to do something similar this season? Maybe we can collaberate. Take pictures, share notes? lol.

04-13-2009, 11:16 AM
I've always wanted to grow mandrake. When I used to grow medical marijuana I was made aware of all differant kinds of strange fertalizer such as Grandma Eggy's seaweed extract and red wizard fertelizer. I would like to (afford to) use some of these, and the growing techniques/lighting on magical plants. For anyone who lives in a state that allows this, I would definitly reccomend (if you have time and space for it) growing cannibis, it is definitly a spiritual plant to have around, with a lifeforce so vital you would feel if you need to water, or do anything to it from across the room, it was like having a concious plant being of a nature I have never had before. my favorite part was watching the new shoots at the top open up, it looked like a little person bowing every time a new shoot would open up

10-31-2009, 01:55 PM
You can grow just about anything out of pots. Ideal for those who do not have a garden or the soil is of insufficient quality.

09-20-2011, 01:19 PM
If you go the pot route- er, planter route- you can use hydrogen peroxide (from your local dept. store) to help with plant growth. I use a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to ten parts water when I water. This helps aerate the soil the plant is in. It's also awesome for rooting cuttings in water. I snip some softwood cuttings from my herbs, root them in a cup filled with the above mentioned solution and- voila! New plants in a few weeks. Cheap propagation method.

I second the mention of adding sand to your beds, as well as the seaweed (if you can afford it). You can also build raised beds at first, and gradually till them under year after year to improve the local soil quality. I had to do the same when I lived in California. We had hard clay soil where I lived, and I improved it by adding horse manure, some sand, and growing beans the first year (adds nitrogen back to the soil).