Avoiding Pests and Choosing the Right Soil When Growing Herbs

Avoiding Pests and Choosing the Right Soil When Growing Herbs
by Thomas Fryd

Whether you are growing herbs outdoors or in a container garden, good soil is one of the most fundamental conditions for encouraging healthy plants. While the sun is important for the energy they need for growth and reproduction, these chemical reactions can only occur with components from the soil. For this reason, it is important to grow your herbs in soil which provides all the necessary nutrients.

Water content, nitrogen and phosphorus content, alkalinity, and acidity, are all factors controlled by the soil in which your herbs are planted. Keeping all of these at the right level is one of the most important things you can do to help your herbs thrive. You should do some research on your herbs to find out the necessary soil levels.

In container gardens, all of these levels are up to you to completely control. In outdoor settings, nature provides some help, but you should still monitor these levels to ensure optimum herb growth.

Different herbs have different requirements. For example, lavender grows best in dry, alkaline soil with good drainage. Sage can get root rot if you keep the soil too moist. Nurseries or garden centers can help you determine your herbs’ needs and find soil that will help your herbs achieve maximum growth.

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Soil is usually categorized as sandy, clay-like, or somewhere in between. Soil with a clay component retains water, while sandy soil provides good drainage. Most herbs require something in the middle of these two extremes. The addition of good compost can help you achieve the right balance, but you should understand your herbs’ specific requirements to choose the right soil.

When growing herbs, you also need to watch for pests. These include flying bugs as well as bugs in the soil, which is yet another reason to monitor your soil conditions. However, herbs can also help keep some pests from attacking your other plants. For example, planting herbs can help deter aphids that may be attracted to the scent of roses and certain vegetables. Chives, mint, basil, and cilantro also help control pests. For example, basil can keep tomato hornworm from ruining your tomatoes.

However, you should be aware that some herbs attract pests. Dill and yarrow can attract wasps, but keep some species of beetles away. Tomato hornworms attack dill, but this can keep them away from your tomatoes.

If you are growing herbs but want to avoid pests, you may want to consider a neem oil as a natural pesticide or insecticide. However, keep in mind that if you plan to use your herbs for culinary uses, you should avoid pesticides if possible.

Growing herbs does not have to be difficult. However, if you want healthy plants, watch for pests and provide the right soil type for your herbs.

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