How to Grow Sage

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It’s nice to have one big, reliable sage bush at the corner of the garden. One plant usually provides enough herb for most families, and its flowers are strongly attractive to wild and domesticated bees. Even hummingbirds will stop for a sip. Propagating by cuttings is easier with sage than growing from seed, but both can be achieved with a little care. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Sage from seeds Guide and grow some flavour. Great fresh or dried.!

Latin
Salvia officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae

Difficulty
Easy but slow

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Hardy to Zone 5

Timing
Start indoors mid-February to mid-April. Transplant out or direct sow starting mid-April. Starting indoors may be more reliable, particularly if using bottom heat and maintaining optimal soil temperature at 15-21°C (60-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 2 to 3 weeks.

Starting
Sow seeds 3mm (1/8″) deep, and keep soil just moist, not wet. Thin to 45-60cm (18-24″) apart.

Growing
In spring, trim established plants back by a third to encourage new growth. Once the flowers have finished in June/early July, trim the plants back again. A second bloom sometimes follows, and this pruning will keep plants bushy and compact. After a few years, sage bushes can become quite large. Keep in check by pruning.

Companion Planting
Sage repels both the cabbage moth and the carrot rust fly, so it’s a great all around companion plant in the vegetable garden. Do not, however, plant it near cucumbers, which are sensitive to aromatic herbs.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Rosemary

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Rosemary is not quite as simple from seed as many other herbs, but it can be achieved by novice gardeners if they take certain precautions. It is a woody perennial that grows slowly, and won’t be ready for harvesting during the first year of growth. If growing rosemary in containers, provide monthly feedings of liquid fertilizer. Keep watered in hot weather. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Rosemary from seeds Guide.

Latin
Rosmarinus officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae

Difficulty
Challenging

Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Hardy to Zone 8

Timing
Sow indoors mid-February to mid-April. Transplant or direct sow starting in late May, once soil has warmed. Starting indoors is more reliable. Use bottom heat to maintain an optimal soil temperature of 27-32°C (80-90°F).

Starting
Most nurseries grow rosemary from cuttings, not seeds. Germination is notoriously low, so plant more seeds than you plan to grow on. Sow them barely covered with sterilized seed starting mix over bottom heat. Once germinated, rosemary is highly prone to damping off, so keep watering to a minimum, provide bright light, and ventilation. Keep each plant in its own pot for the first winter and offer them protection from severe cold. Transplant to the garden the following spring at a spacing of 60-90cm (24-36″).

Growing
If growing rosemary in containers, provide monthly feedings of liquid fertilizer. Keep watered in hot weather. Mulch around all rosemary plants as cold weather approaches. If their roots freeze in times of hard frost, the plants will die.

Harvest
Harvest individual leaves by pulling them off the plant. Harvest branches or stems for drying by cutting with a clean, very sharp knife. Scissors may crush the plant’s tissues at the cut end.

Companion Planting
Rosemary is a good companion for beans, Brassicas, and carrots.

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How to Grow Garlic

Use this page to learn How to Grow Garlic. Garlic is a very economical crop to grow because it takes up very little space. Once it is harvested it keeps for months. And then some of the harvest can be saved for planting again in the fall. One small 4 x 8 foot bed can produce enough garlic to keep you going right through the winter from a late July harvest. The trick is spacing, timing, and curing.

Latin
Allium ophioscorodon & A. sativum
Family: Alliaceae

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 4

Timing
Sow cloves September through November for harvest the following July. This overwintering technique is the most reliable for gardeners down to Zone 4, and works well on the coast. Garlic can also be planted during a brief window at the beginning of March in coastal gardens, but may take longer to mature and may not form as complete a bulb.

Starting
Separate the cloves and set each one, pointed end up, 10-15cm (4-6″) apart and with the tip of the clove 2-5cm (1-2″) deep in rich, well drained soil. Don’t skin the clove! Use deeper planting if rains or frost may expose the cloves, and shallower planting if using mulch or planting into heavy soil. Largest cloves will make largest bulbs. Some growers recommend planting the cloves 4 to 6 inches deep, as garlic likes moisture. In good soils, this should result in fatter, larger bulbs.

Growing
Rich, well-drained soil. Dig well, add compost (lots of it if your soil is heavy) and do not compact it by stepping on it. Fertilize when spring growth starts. Water as needed and keep weeded. If your soil pH is below 5.5, the addition of wood ash or dolomite lime might help. In early summer, garlic sends up a flower stalk known as a “scape.” Hardneck garlic scapes will curl around at the top, and should be removed just as the curl starts. You’ll know it when this happens. Just cut them at the top of the stem. Garlic scapes are tasty and edible, and can be sauteed or made into pesto. Removing the flower before it opens is thought to keep more of the plant’s saved energy in its bulb.

Harvest
Garlic usually matures between the early to mid-summer. In 2015 and 2016, local garlic was ready to harvest in June. When the tops begin to dry, pull and air-dry like onions. Harvest when ½-¾ of the leaves have turned yellow (depending on variety). Try to avoid puncturing the bulbs when digging them out. Cure the bulbs in a single layer in a warm spot for 1 week to 10 days. Clean the bulbs by peeling off outer muddy layers. Cut off the stems and leaves of the hardneck varieties, but leave the leaves on the softneck to use for braiding or hanging. Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator, as this will induce sprouting, changing the garlic’s texture and flavour. Use any damaged bulbs first, store the best. Set aside your best bulbs for planting in the fall.

Diseases & Pests
Many growers and home gardeners have been hit with White Rot that causes black spots and decay on the bulbs. It is spread in infected soil and water and is very persistent in the soil. Flooding the bed for 4 weeks in the spring may kill it. Best way to avoid it is not to leave decaying alliums in the ground and by using a strict 4 year rotation.

Companion Planting
Planting garlic near roses will help to repel aphids. Because of its sulfur compounds, it may also help repel whiteflies, Japanese beetles, root maggots, carrot rust fly, and other pests. Garlic, made into a tea, or spray, will act as a systemic pesticide, drawing up into the cells of the plants. It’s a good companion for beets, Brassicas, celery, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Avoid planting it near peas or beans of any kind.

More on Companion Planting.

Mark describes When to Harvest Garlic on YouTube

How to Grow Epazote

Epazote Organic

Traditionally used to flavour bean dishes, epazote has the added medicinal benefit of acting as a carminative, or anti-flatulent agent. Epazote is an unfussy plant that will grow in even poor soils. Grow in full sun for best results, in a warm spot in the garden. Follow the How to Grow Epazote from seeds and feel free to eat beans.

Latin
Dysphania ambrosioides (syn. Chenopodium ambrosioides)
Family: Amaranthaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 4-12

Timing
Sow indoors in April/May and transplant or sow direct outdoors once soil warms up in early June. Optimal temperature for germination: 21°C (70°F). Bottom heat speeds germination. Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.

Starting
Press seeds into the soil and barely cover. Keep moist until germination and transplant or thin plants to stand 15cm (6″) apart in the row.

Harvest

Gather the leaves so that you have 2tbsp of chopped fresh leaves available to add to 5 cups of cooked beans. It is important to add in the last 15 minutes of cooking. The leaves can be dried, but fresh are better.

Note: In significant quantities, Epazote is poisonous. While it is safe to use as a culinary herb in small quantities, overuse can cause deafness, vertigo, paralysis, incontinence, sweating, jaundice, and even death. It is to be avoided by pregnant women and small children.

How to Grow Chervil

Chervil Seeds

A delicate, parsley-like plant with a hint of licorice, chervil is one of the traditional fines herbes. Chervil is an excellent companion for Brassicas, lettuce, and radishes, but does best in part shade. Try growing some between rows of tall cabbages and kale. Chervil helps to repel slugs. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Chervil seeds Guide and grow fine herbs in your garden this spring.!

Latin
Anthriscus cerefolium
Family: Apiaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Sun or part-shade
Zone: 2-10

Timing
Start seeds indoors or direct sow in spring. Direct sow in summer and protect plants from midday sun for a winter crop – chervil is quite hardy. Keep transplanting to a minimum, as chervil develops a delicate taproot.

Starting
Sow seeds 5mm-1cm (¼-½”) deep, and space plants 23-30cm (9-12″) apart.

Growing
Plants will be ready for cutting 6-8 weeks after sowing. It’s probably best to grow chervil in relatively damp soil in partial shade, as plants will bolt in hot mid-summer weather. Transplanting may also trigger bolting. Cover with a cloche in winter, and it will just keep growing until it blooms the following spring.

Harvest
Begin harvesting as needed 6-8 weeks after sowing, or when plants are 10cm (4″) tall. Drying kills nearly all the flavour of the leaves, so freezing is best for long term storage.

Companion Planting
Chervil is an excellent companion for Brassicas, lettuce, and radishes, but does best in part shade. Try growing some between rows of tall cabbages and kale. Chervil helps to repel slugs.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Chamomile

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German chamomile is also known as scented mayweed and wild chamomile. It’s a hardy annual with pleasantly scented flowers, and is primarily grown for medicinal use and teas. Follow this handy How to Grow chamomile from seeds and relax. Learn how to grow your own organic chamomile in containers or in your herb garden.

Latin
Matricaria recutita
Family: Asteraceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 2-12

Timing
Sow late March to mid-May either indoors or direct where it is to grow. If starting indoors, be sure to harden seedlings off before they are transplanted. Optimal temperature for germination: 19°C (65°F). Bottom heat speeds germination.

Starting
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep. Keep moist, and thin or transplant to 10-15cm (4-6″) apart. Seeds should sprout in 10-14 days.

Growing
Chamomile is a fairly adaptable plant, but does best in full sun in well-drained soil. Water well in dry weather, and deadhead thoroughly to prevent self-sowing.

Harvest
Harvest the small, sweet smelling flowers when they are fully open. Use the petals fresh or dry. The leaves can be gathered in spring to early summer and used fresh or dry.

Companion Planting
Chamomile attracts hoverflies and wasps. Plant near onions to improve their flavour.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Catnip

Catnip Seeds

Known in antiquity as “catswort.” Bees seem to prefer its flowers over most others, but a common plant pest in gardens, the flea beetle, is deterred by it. The universal appeal of this species to cats is underscored by the fact that the herb’s common name in every Western language contains some variation of the word “cat.” Follow along with this handy How to Grow Catnip from seeds guide and give your cats some fun!

Latin
Nepeta cataria
Family: Lamiaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 3-9

Timing
Sow seeds indoors in February and March, and transplant or direct sow in April and May. Can also be direct sown where it is to grow in September. Bottom heat will speed germination. Ideal temperature for germination: 21-27°C (70-80°F). Seeds should sprout in 10-20 days.

Starting
Sow on the soil surface or barely covered with perlite. Thin plants or transplant to 30cm (12″) apart. Keep seedlings well protected from cats!

Growing
Catnip does very well in containers, raised beds, or borders in full sun to partial shade. The main challenge to growing it is protecting it from cats. After the main bloom, plants should be cut back hard to encourage a second bloom and tidy shape.

Harvest
To save the summer catmint bounty, harvest when fully grown, and keep the plant picked regularly.

Seed Info
Usual seed life: 5 years.

Companion Planting
Attracts pollinators (and cats!), but repels aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, ants, weevils, and squash bugs.

More on Companion Planting.