Watering and Feeding Herbs During Summer



Lavender, Rosemary, Oregano,Thyme and Sage: These herbs like the soil a little on the dry side. Give them just enough water to keep them from wilting when temperatures reach 90+. They also prefer little or no mulch, because the mulch tends to hold in excess moisture. Lavender must have good drainage, otherwise, she’ll curl up and die. White rocks, river rocks, gravel, these are acceptable mulches. A 2 inch layer is more than enough. The stones will keep the weeds down, and help with drainage. Don’t spread the rocks or gravel close to the stems. Keep them at least 4 inches away to allow for air circulation around the plants. I use only organic products for feeding my herbs. Fish emulsion is fine, so is sea rich, or kelp meal. Something that feeds them slowly over a period of weeks. About three times during the growing season is more than enough. Follow directions on the package.

Basil, Mint, Chives, Lemon Balm, Dill, and Cilantro: Their stems give an indication they are water lovers, especially the mints. All of these herbs respond to regular watering on a weekly basis. More than once a week, if it’s over 80 degrees, and the herbs are growing in full sun. The Basil likes mulch, and I use pine needles or red cedar shavings. These mulches are acidic, and the Basil likes an acid soil. Lemon Balm loves moist soil, and so does the Dill. The Cilantro and Chives like a fairly dry soil, and produce better when the soil is not so wet. No mulches are necessary, just keep the weeds out. These herbs do not require fertilizer, unless you are harvesting heavily, and then you should feed them after you have harvested the leaves and stems. For instance, I cut the Chives almost to soil level when harvesting. So after I harvest them, I’ll water them well, and mix 3 tablespoons of sugar per gallon of water, and pour it around the base of the plants. I’ll do this again in 10 days, and the Chives will begin to grow back.

Roses: The number one mistake gardeners make with Roses is lack of deep watering. Water often and make sure the water reaches the roots. If you want Roses to keep producing blooms, you need to keep them hydrated. Feed them a complete organic plant food during bloom season, at least once a month. Bone meal, or blood meal, cow [composted ] manure, kelp meal, fish emulsion, sea rich, something that the Roses will slowly absorb. Also, Roses love magnesium, and you can feed them Epsom salts once a month as well. Mix a tablespoon of the Epsom salts in a gallon of warm water and pour it around the base of each plant. This will green up the leaves and stems and produce more colorful blooms. Don’t overdo it, once a month is enough.

Container Herbs: You’ll have to water them more often when the temperatures are above 85 degrees. At least once a week. Deep watering is best. Because the herbs are growing in containers, they’ll require feedings at least once a week. Each time the plants are watered, nutrients are “flushed out” in the soil. They’ll need replacing. I suggest you feed and water at the same time. Add about a tablespoon of plant food to a gallon of water and pour this around the base of the plants. Do this until the water runs out of the bottom of the planters. This weekly feed will help replace nutrients lost from watering. I’m not against Miracle Grow or other plant foods. Miracle Grow is a complete fertilizer and you can use this if you prefer.

Tip: To keep water from splashing out of container grown plants, top dress the planters with fresh potting soil, and add a layer of gravel, mulch, river rocks, decorative stones. Apply a thin layer of stones on top of the soil. This will hold in moisture, and prevent the soil from splashing out.

Happy Memorial Day to our friends and visitors. To grow a garden gives one hope for the future.

~ Meadow Walker

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