Herb garden advice

TastyReuben

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Quick question for the herb gardeners:

I have an outside in-the-ground herb garden (meaning nothing is in pots or planters). This is my first year for doing that.

I know a lot of herbs are perennials, and I'd like to be able to get out of the task of replanting every Spring if I can. I've also seen herb gardens on TV where the plants are massive, and I like the look of that. I'm assuming that's achieved by allowing the herbs to grow year after year, instead of planting fresh each Spring.

What do you all do with your herb gardens? What do you leave in place, what do you pull out and discard once cold weather comes? Do you cover it during the winter months, or just leave it be?

For reference, this is what my herb garden looked like when I was laying it out. It's now got rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, parsley, and mint (the dill died almost immediately), plus some flowers.
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medtran49

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I personally would pull the mint out of the ground and put it in a large pot with a drip pan. If you don't have a solid surface underneath the pot, it will grow roots out of the bottom and attach itself to the ground. I mean like Cat 2 hurricane winds won't budge the pot (not kidding). If you leave it in the ground, the mint will take over the herb plot and keep going. Oregano will do the same things, but not quite as bad as mint. Don't ask how I know these things...

The rosemary shouldn't have any problems with the cold weather, though it will get really woody in the older parts. In our old house, my herb garden was just outside the front door partly on the porch in pots and in ground on either side of the porch. My rosemary plants would grow for years until they got too big and woody, and I'd pull them out and replace. They'd get 3 to 3.5 feet tall.

Cilantro and dill will always bolt and die at the first hint of hot weather. I can only grow cilantro and dill for 3-4 months here, usually mid to late December through mid to late April. Sage will grow a little longer, but it doesn't like hot weather either and just dies. Sage might winter with just light frost, but I don't think it will survive under snow for long periods.

I've no experience gardening with cold weather, but I doubt basil will winter, and seriously doubt thyme, parsley and chives will.
 
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SatNavSaysStraightOn

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Yep. Have a herb patch for 20 odd years.

Rosemary fine, just be prepared to lose the front of that plot to it in no time at all. It over winters without issue (seen it survive-14°C and thick snow).

Parsley is a biennial plant, so lasts 2 years. It leafs once year, flowers and seeds the next (with more leaves), but again is prone to bolting if it is too dry or sees to much sunshine or heat.

Chives and thyme are both periennials, so last indefinitely but prefer different conditions. Thyme is a dry soil plant but does need some water, doesn't like being waterlogged and loves warmth. Will get woody but easier to get the leaves off and you can just give it a hair cut. Some varieties appears rather than produce height, that's what I'm growing now.

Chives will die back to the ground each year and pop back up again when life warms up. Like damp feet/toes, but not waterlogged. They are of the same family as onions and garlic. If they are flowering, they are happy. They will spread, just not very quickly.

Mint, as above unless you want it to take over, never put it in the ground. Always in something. I've always used old sinks. Hold water (it is a wet marshland plant like watercress) and can drain as needed. Mint will grow is water though it's happier in wet soil. If it is flowing, it's happy.

Annuals, need to be planted each year, include coriander, dill and basil. They all bolt easily and die easily unless you've accidental found their favorite spot.

Fennel, is a perennial. You'll only need to plant it the once. It's a structural plant, so grows high. I've never harvested bulbs from it, but have done seeds. I love it's fragrance when touched or brushed against.

Summer savory is an annual as well.
Winter savory is a perennial, grows slowly but is hardy. That's the one I'm growing.

Oregano and majorum are again perennials. They do spread but very slowly and are worth putting in the ground in our experience. We love them. They are very similar so do label them. They are fantastic for the bees btw.

Bay grows slowly, get a small plant and get it in the ground. It will grow tall but will take a decade or so...

Wood sorrell is another we generally plant for the bees. Spreads but can be easily pulled out.

Wild garlic is worth mentioning as well. It takes time to establish. Fantastic for making pesto with.

I think that's all I've grown. It's only wild garlic and wood sorrell I don't have growing here in Aus now. They aren't permitted.

I haven't grown cumin for some reason. I must see if I can. It's the beginning of the growing season right now.

Edit, I missed sage out. Sage spreads, upwards and outwards. I've stopped growing it for these reasons. It's hardy and will go woody on you, growing taller each year but is good for the bees.
 

rascal

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My 2 cents
Mint we have growing on an area where nothing else is, grows all year. I make mint sauce so never enough mint .
Sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme all grow year round just outside the garage.
Basil and coriander/ cilantro wife plants our every season from seeds I've grown, we freeze surplus.
We dry a lot of herbs as well in a dehydrater.

Russ
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

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Mint we have growing on an area where nothing else is, grows all year. I make mint sauce so never enough mint
Yep, our new place had 3 different mints growing in the ground over a space of 10-15m venturing into the borders and the lawn alike. Whoever planted it should have been shot. We can pull it up like anything, but it grows from the smallest stem or root segment. Yes if you have a space likes yours, but there in that patch, no big time.
 

rascal

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Yep, our new place had 3 different mints growing in the ground over a space of 10-15m venturing into the borders and the lawn alike. Whoever planted it should have been shot. We can pull it up like anything, but it grows from the smallest stem or root segment. Yes if you have a space likes yours, but there in that patch, no big time.
Yeah nothing else grows there , it's shady side of house. There's only polythene under the bark and two mint plants. Prior to that we had mint in pots on the decking. Picked mint yesterday for rhaita today. We love mint.

Russ
 

rascal

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I realise, no one has mentioned chilies. They are perennials but they are not hardy, so if you decide to grow them, they are spring to autumn only.
Wife grows chillies pretty much year round, we have seeds popping up now. Only stopped picking from greenhouse a few weeks ago. She grows 50/50 inside and outside greenhouses. She has two wee greenhouses.

Russ
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

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Chillies wouldn't stand a chance here with me. Prolonged cold periods and harsh frosts, high cold winds... and I've no greenhouse (yet). I'm always amazed that the lemon tree survives but it does suffer. And it's in a very sheltered spot protected by our garden shed and solid metal fence (there as a wind shield only). The entire back of the back garden is protected by either a solid metal or wooden fence and then there is tbe obligatory line of pines (3½ sides of the house) protecting the house. It's tbe only way anything survives. I'm stunned that the grape vine survives at all. Vine leaf preservation is something I'm going to look into the spring.
 
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