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Problems Growing Herbs In Loblolly country

18 years ago

I have seen a few posts on the forum about growing herbs and have read comments from quite a few people that they had given up on growing herbs. I am no expert on Growing herbs in the Carolinas, but I do know what herbs like and do not like.

For the most part, Herbs like soil that has a higher pH - is sweeter...alkaline, not acidic. Only a few herbs are the exception to that rule. If you live where the soil is very acidic, clay or sandy, then that is your problem, right there! But you can still grow herbs in your kitchen garden or in large containers, especially if you build a raised bed for them. If you have rocky soil, then you already have a head start. Leave some of the smaller stones in the soil to allow good drainage. Herbs love good drainage and you can use some of the larger rocks you dig out to edge your herb bed or to place decoratively in between plants. This helps retain a bit of moisture in the soil, too. They will like that and it will look great, too.

To correct the pH in your soil, you need to raise the pH in your soil from acidic (sour) to alkaline (sweet) by adding lime. I use wood ashes and egg shells. Fall applications are best because lime is slow to react with soil.

There are several store brands of Lime you can buy to apply to your soil, that come in various particle sizes - of course, the finer grinds work faster, but they tend to blow away in strong wind. If you have frequent rainfall, that isn't as likely to happen. Quick lime and Hydrated lime are more soluble and work faster.

Till the lime or wood ashes into you soil to a depth of about 4 inches and allow at least 3 months to a year before planting. Now is a great time to build your herb beds for this reason as the soil will be ready by next Spring.

Mulches - do not use pine bark, pine mulch, pine nuggets, cedar mulch, redwood mulches, or cypress mulch. Do not use pine straw mulch or grass clippings or the like. In fact, do not use any mulches around herbs. These are all moisture retentive and very acidic, both bad news to herbs.

Instead, use course sand, light-colored gravel, pea gravel, or small rocks/stones. They hold a little mositur on top of the soil where herbs want it, but allow evaporation so their "feet" are sogging. Landscape fabric can be laid down around your plants and covered with the sand or gravel, if you can afford it. It wouldn't cost much for a small kitchen herb garden.

I like to use pea gravel. I like the rounded edges and colorful little pebbles. They are easier on my feet and cheap. I buy mine at Lowe's. Goes perfectly with herb plants, too.

Herbs like moisture, but do not like soggy root systems - they will rot. They tend to get fungus in wet conditions and diseases which is their death, so having a pourous soil is imperative. Sandy Loam is best, and you can add materials to your existing soil to change the pH and porosity that herbs love best.

Hope this is of some help to those interested in herbs.

If you need any further info, I will try to help you.

A former Mojave Desert-Sierra Nevada Mountains girl, {{gwi:586012}}
Grower of Herbs & Flowers; Cactus & Succulents and life-long Collector of Rocks & Fossils.

~ Annie

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