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Herbs in the garden can provide a vital lesson

By Sally-Aiosa Bradley
Rowan Master Gardener
Herbs are a wonderful addition to any garden. They are one of the most rewarding kinds of plants to grow because of their versatility.
They are used now, as they were thousands of years ago, for culinary purposes, fragrances, medicinal uses, dyes and many other uses. Herbs pre-date Christian times, and over half of the medicines used today can trace their heritage to ancient times when the seeds, flowers and leaves were used for medicinal purposes.
My husband and I started growing herbs in Charlotte in 1992. It was trial and error at first. Our greatest challenge was a sloping back yard which we had to terrace in order to have our garden, which then took a life of its own. Six years later we moved to north central Kansas, and our challenges there were extreme heat in the summer and very cold in the winter. But we found that perfect spot.
In Kansas, we tried new varieties of herbs which doubled the size of our garden. We soon had a beautiful, well established garden.
Six years later we had to move again. This time it was to Salisbury and here we met the greatest challenge of all n clay soil. We decided the only way to learn about this soil was for me to join the Extension Master Gardener Program. Seven weeks later, we were ready, and our new garden was born.
Now we grow some of the most popular and traditional herbs like rosemary, oregano, basil, chives and many others. We are also trying out some new varieties this year.
If you decide to grow herbs, keep in mind herbs like level ground, at least five hours of sun a day, but they also need shade during the day.
Weeding will be the greatest chore. You don’t want to used herbicides if they will be used for culinary purposes. Soil should be average in quality, neither devoid of, nor too rich in, organic matter. Make sure your garden is well-drained or water-logging could occur. Snails and slugs will be your greatest problem, but shallow dishes of beer and/or slug pellets will take care of them. Remember that herbs are very forgiving.
Herbs are a link to our past. Many of those we use today were in use centuries ago. What a story they could tell.
Sally-Aiosa Bradley is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Class of 2006.

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