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Planning Your Herb Garden

You first need to decide what the purpose of your herb garden design is. Don't worry you don't have to be a designer or an artist to make a plan for your garden. Every herb garden is beautiful and will serve a great purpose. You must take into account the amount of space you have, what you wish to grow, and having easy access to your herbs. 

Once you have a general idea in mind, take a look at the area and soil you have available. Draw out on a piece of paper the general shape you have, and mark what type of soil or soils are in that area. 

Soil Testing is key and the most important factor. 

Wait until it has rained significantly. Dig a hole 12-18 inches where some plants are growing. Observe the topsoil and subsoil beneath it. You can tell if the rainwater has made the roots waterlogged, or if it has drained away. If the roots are deep then the your herbs should do well here. If not you can add compost and grow plants hat have deep roots. To test the condition of your soil you should dig a hole about 2 feet in the ground. Place this soil into a glass jar. Then add water to the jar and shake well. Once it settles you will be able to see the organic matter because this will float to the top. The clay, sand, and stones will separate. A soil that has almost equal amounts of sand, clay and organic matter is soil that is in good shape.

Soil Types

Chalky Soil: Tends to very light and drains well. It is often rocky and has a high content of calcium and alkaline. Plants for chalky soil are catnip, hyssop, juniper, hyssop, chicory, lavender, lily of the valley, rosemary, lung wort, motherwort.

Sandy Soil: Tends to have poor drain. You can build this soil up with your compost. Plants for sandy soil are: anise, alfalfa, borage, chamomile, fennel, tarragon, thyme.

Loam Soil: Tends to be rich in nutrients great for plants because of its balance of soil, clay, and sand. Plants for this soil include, basil bay chives, burdock, parsley, sage, and the thymes.

Moist Loam Soil: Has trouble with drainage. Herbs with flavor can do well here such as, comfrey, angelica, lemon balm, min family valerian, sweet violet.

Marshy Soil: Tends to wet and retains moisture. Herbs that do well here are goldenseal, horsetail, marsh mallow.
Acidic Soil

The acid content of your soil is important as well. Remember the acid level in one part of your garden may be different than another.
Acid loving plants, are arnica, sorrel the french, dandelion, honeysuckle. 

Alkaline Soil

Here are some suggestions of alkaline loving plants are, chickweed, chicory, elder, rose, woodworm and sorrel (wood). 

Always keep in mind what sort of sun the garden gets, too. You´ll want to plant herbs that grow well in the soil, keeping in mind the needs of each plant.

Want good Soil?  Then Compost

The best thing you can for your soil is to compost.
You can always make raised beds if your soil is in poor shape. 

With the list of herbs in hand, decide how they work well with your design. You may want your taller plants placed in the back. If your aim is more informal, arrange the herbs so that there is a mixture of colors and textures. If you´re going to be going into this garden daily for ´supplies´ for your cooking, design it so you have easy access to it. Remember to have fun. Gardening is a ongoing process. Allow it to be your teacher.

About The Author 

Dawyn Cloud-Alter has been in the field of human services for over twenty years, and a psychotherapist for eleven years.  She has a B.S. degree in Human Services, a Master Of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a Certificate in Family Herbalsim from the Clayton College Of Natural Health.  She resides in Sandy Hook Connecticut with her husband Mark and their three children ages Justin age 16, Autumn age 11, and Cameron age 6.

She provides individual consultations, workshops, lectures, and products for the skin,  herbal remedies, and herbal gift baskets. The products are made to order, and only natural products are used.  Visit her site

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