A Great Resource For The Vegetable Gardener
The beginning gardener will find herbs a great choice for those early experiments. Herbs are very forgiving, doing well in poor soil and requiring little or no fertilizer. They're insect resistant in many cases, and don't require constant pruning.
Once you've selected the types you want to grow and tend, make sure you have the tools to do it.
A small shovel or spade will be adequate for most planting. Herbs don't require a large hole when planted from cuttings, and seeds are sown very near the surface. A spike or fork will be helpful for aerating compacted soil, especially for new seeds. Herbs like good drainage.
Though they require it only rarely, if you want to optimize your herbs occasional pruning is helpful. That means a pair of pruning shears is a must. Ordinary scissors have their uses in the garden - cutting twine, snipping small stems and so forth. But, a pair of sharp pruning shears is essential for trimming those thicker stems and other tasks.
Depending on your arrangements a good watering can may be helpful. Some just pour water out a one inch opening. That's great for some plants, but herbs require less water and one of the most common mistakes is overwatering. The type with a series of small holes will make it easier to control the amount given.
Watering cans are great for container-grown herbs and small areas. But for larger gardens you'll want some kind of watering system. Unless you have lots of time on your hands, an automatic system will be best. Fortunately, a simple drip or soaker hose system is easy to set up and inexpensive. Some will require replacement every couple of years depending on your climate.
Unless you pull them up before winter and re-lay the following spring, winter is hard on those hoses. A couple of years of snow and low temperatures will rot and plug them. But even a 20 ft x 30 ft garden can be completely covered with soaker hose in less than an hour. All that's required is to make a pattern close to the plants and shove down a few plastic or metal spikes to keep it in place.
A wheelbarrow is handy for transporting those container-started plants to the garden for transplanting. You may also find it handy for carting away weeds that have gotten out of hand. It's much easier to toss them into the wheelbarrow, then roll it away for bagging or dispersal, than to pick them off the ground when you're done. That also helps minimize re-seeding.
Laying down a 3-4 inch layer of mulch after you plant can help minimize the need for weeding later. It also helps with soil composition. Mulch can be made from wood chips, bark, gravel or even shredded newspapers - or all of them combined. Just leave about an inch in diameter of space around the base of the plant when you mulch. That will avoid any excess buildup of moisture and heat.
Some simple quality tools, a few packets of fine seeds, a bit of space with good earth and you are on your way to a great herb garden.
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