Here is a video I quickly shot of the herb garden I just installed at Hebron Acres. It's a terrible video, I know.
In addition to the three little sage bushes already there, we planted Italian basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, and parsley. We'll be adding rosemary this week. The big empty corner is where my wife wants the rhubarb transplant to go.
Here's my question, this soil contained within this area is very sandy. I've added organic matter to it and will continue to do so, but I was hoping all the herb experts would give me some thoughts about the fact that the soil is so sandy there and what it may mean for the plants I've listed.
For better water retention I'd add a little clay to that sandy soil.
In addition to it holding water longer it will also help with the organic materials retention, which in sand tend to disappear quite quickly.
Most herbs like to have water available most of the time, not wet feet but they will go through a lot of water in a day, especially in full, hot sun.
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I grow all those herbs (but this is my first year with parsley so please exclude this from all the advice below, I don't have the experience to judge) The one indulgence that I give to all my herbs (all my plants) is a thick layer of ramail wood chip mulch. I'm going to list what experiences I have had with growing each herb below. I think I come from a hotter, drier climate than yours.
Basil prefered a richer more water retentive soil than all the others listed. It did best when I planted it in the dappled sun at the drip line of my pecan tree. It didn't thrive anywhere without spot watering much more than any of the other herbs.I try not to waste a lot of water on ornamental plants. The volunteer basil plants near my roses were much less productive. Not all basil is created equal, I find Thai basil is much more water thrifty than sweet Italian Basil. Thai basil was the variety tovolunteer and survive. The bees were very happy to have the extra basil flowers available. I also found it makes a wonderful iced tea, with or without added mint.
The sage is also in my rose bed, and it does very well there. During the hottest part of summer there is some dieback due to sun scorch, but those branches are what I harvest for dried sage in the kitchen. The flavor is wonderfully concentrated.
Thyme, Winter Savory, Garlic Chives, Rosemary and Lemon Thyme have all been very happy planted next to the driveways in nearly unimproved soil, with very little supplemental water and no extra fertilizer. They have a shovel depth pit of wood chips underneath that catches and stores water where the plants can access it after heavy rainfalls.
The Oregano and Lavender are right next to an asphalt road, with no shade. Other than During the worst of the summer (month without rain in near 100 degree temps) I'd hand water the plants maybe once a week. Other than the layer of mulch I did not improve this soil at all.
In my experience, herbs are easy care. Excepting the basil, keep them mulched and you should only need to water in the worst dry spells. Mulch the basil and water it like a common garden vegetable.
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