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Doctors Recommend, Health Goals, Plant Based, Year-Round Health

Insider secrets to growing a happy herb garden

St.Francis Herb Farm Logo
by St. Francis

Monique Rivett-Carnac, the co-founder of St. Francis Herb Farm, knows a thing or two about what goes into a successful herb garden. She’s been growing culinary and medicinal herbs for decades, has taught at herbal centres and colleges and is all-around passionate about the healing powers of herbs. “A home herb garden is intensive at first, but easy to maintain,” she says. Here are her best tips for a beautifully healthy, thriving herb garden.

Prep your soil

Test your soil with a home pH kit. If it’s too acidic, you can mix in dolomite, a form of crushed limestone that contains calcium and magnesium. Add organic mulch to make alkaline soil more acidic.

Chose a sunny, dry site

Herbs love heat and sun, so a spot that gets full sun for the whole day is best. “Herbs don’t like wet feet,” explains Monique. “I don’t really water herbs unless it’s been a solid couple weeks of hot dry weather.”

Fertilize on the side

“Side dressing” means that you dig a shallow trench beside a row of herbs or around a single plant, about 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) away from the plant, then add fertilizer. Monique recommends organic turkey dung or an organic seaweed spray for fertilizer. It’s best to do a side dressing twice in a season: when plants are established and are having a growth spurt, and towards the end of the season, she adds

Trim ‘em up

“Keep giving herbs that are growing well ‘hair cuts’ throughout the season; they love that,” she says. Cutting or pinching off leaves and branches helps herbs to grow and root well.

St. Francis Herb Farm Field of Flowers picture

Harvest time

Invest in a small food dehydrator to easily dry your herbs so you can enjoy them all year round. Or, whirl herb leaves (basil leaves are especially good) in the blender with a small amount of water and spoon the mixture into ice cube trays, then just drop a frozen herb cube into your cooking.

Picture of Monique Rivett-Carnac
Monique Rivett-Carnac

Follow these tips for a show-stopping garden filled with sweet basil, thyme, chives, tarragon, lovage, summer savory and other flavourful, fragrant herbs.

St. Francis Herb Farm Field of Grass picture

If you want to grow herbs from seed indoors, begin by late March.

Have questions? Just visit our Great Questions Answered page to learn more or to submit a question.

St.Francis Herb Farm Logo
Author: St. Francis

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