Help a novice with his new herb garden? :)

Discussion in 'Herbs' started by Majikseb, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. Majikseb

    Majikseb

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    Hello everyone, I am new to this group and to gardening in general! I have a lot of herb plants I have been tending, but I have been having trouble with a few of them. I would be grateful if I could get a little guidance.

    So I have one or more of each of the following herbs: Peppermint, Spearmint, Mojito Mint, Basil, Golden Sage, Silver Thyme.

    The Peppermint and Spearmint live outside and almost died. They do not come in at night. They are barely keeping one vine each with underdeveloped leaves. They have already been repotted into pure Foxfarm Ocean Forest soil. I wasn't sure what to do, so the soil is packed tightly.

    The Mojito Mint lives inside and is doing decently well, though I can tell it wants more sunlight. Its flavor is very weak but the plants seem healthy. They are still potted in the Sprouts containers and the soil they came with.

    The Basil lives outside and does not come in at night. It is thriving, doing best of all my plants. Nice, full leaves and a very strong, good aroma. Still in its Sprout pots with the soil it came with.

    The Golden Sage lives inside and is still in its Sprout pots and the soil it came with. It was doing great for a little while but just started severely drooping and I am quickly becoming concerned.

    The Silver Thyme lives outside and does not come in at night. It is still in the container and soil it came in and it has been drying out, despite frequent watering. It is not doing well at all.

    I have the following questions... Quite a few, so please bare with me! There is a lot of information out there, and I have had significant difficulty sorting through it all.

    1. For container gardening, what size pots do these plants require?
    2. How often should I be watering these plants?
    3. What is an ideal soil combination I can make with what I already have for each herb? (I currently have perlite, vermiculite, Foxfarm Organic Ocean Forest Soil, and Organic Cactus/Succulent potting mix.)
    4. I live in Southern California, North Orange County to be specific. Now that it is Winter time, should I be bringing my herbs in at night to protect them from the cold?
    5. How much and how often should I be giving them fertilizers? I have several kinds of Foxfarm liquid plant foods, but I'm having trouble measuring out the right amount. I've also heard Foxfarm Ocean Soil is very strong and that you should wait a few months after planting in it before you add additional fertilizers or you could hurt your plants. Is this true?
    6. I have been using Neem oil for pest control. Do you think this is an optimal choice? How should I use it and what brand/product would you recommend?

    Thank you everyone, I appreciate the time taken to read and respond.
     
    Majikseb, Nov 29, 2017
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  2. Majikseb

    alp

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    alp, Nov 29, 2017
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  3. Majikseb

    alp

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    I am not an expert and have no specific experience of some of the herbs you've mentioned. You need well drained soil for these herbs and the soil doesn't have to be very rich. You can add grit to any decent compost to aid drainage. You don't even need perlite as it is quite expensive. Perlite facilitates drainage and vermiculite improves on soil structure. For herbs from the Mediterraneans, decent compost with a bit added drainage in a sunny place would be sufficient. If in doubt, have a search on youtube where you can find a lot of videos very useful.. Hope some other herb loving members shed some light on your questions.. Enjoy the forum!
     
    alp, Nov 29, 2017
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  4. Majikseb

    Silentrunning

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    Welcome Majikseb. The only herb on your list I have any problem with is basil. It does great during the warm weather but fizzles in cold. I love pesto so I was very disappointed when the frost started and the basil stunted. I did have it in a greenhouse but once the temperature got below 50 degrees F in the greenhouse it started to fail.
     
    Silentrunning, Nov 30, 2017
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  5. Majikseb

    marlingardener

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    Maj, welcome to the forum!
    I've grown herbs for years, and have found that they like "lean" soil, which means not very rich with compost or fertilizers. The herbs you've listed are Mediterranean herbs, and are accustomed to heat and drought. When growing in containers, stick your finger into the container soil up to your first knuckle, and if your finger is dry, water, if not, don't water.
    Basil is an annual--when the stems get woody, the basil taste changes and the plant is pretty much past its prime. As long as yours is thriving, harvest the leaves frequently and freeze chopped basil leaves in a bit of water--when the plant goes to herb heaven, you'll still have basil to use in sauces, etc.
    Mints are practically indestructible. I think your mints may be in too rich soil.
    The silver thyme is a very difficult herb--you may want to get some regular thyme (thymus vulgaris) which has a great flavor and aroma. It grows much more easily than the hybrid thymes.
    Golden Sage is the same as the above mentioned thyme--difficult. Get some regular sage which is better for culinary purposes and dries beautifully.
    As to the size of containers, basil gets big but doesn't have a large root mass, so a one gallon pot per plant is good; mints have a large root mass that spreads, so a one to two gallon pot would probably hold one mint plant happily; thyme, it also has a large root mass but will do well in a one gallon pot; the sage needs a two gallon pot.
    Good luck with your herbs, and remember, all gardeners face failures, but we learn from them!
     
    marlingardener, Nov 30, 2017
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  6. Majikseb

    alp

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    Yes, @Silentrunning 's abolutely right!

    I love pesto too, especially the newly crushed basil leaves. Basil is very tender and have to be moved indoors when cold. But boy, the aroma is incredible. I tried to make it once, but the lovely nuts cost me an arm and a leg ..
     
    alp, Nov 30, 2017
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  7. Majikseb

    alp

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    Be very careful with mint or chives. They are thugs .. can send feeders all along your bed and before you know, you're in trouble:eek::eek:! Unless you want to be a mint wholesaler! :D
     
    alp, Nov 30, 2017
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  8. Majikseb

    marlingardener

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    Alp, I agree pine nuts are right up there with gold ingots in price. I use pecans in my pesto, since we have lots of pecans here in Texas. I've seen walnuts substituted for pine nuts in some recipes. Pesto freezes well, so I have small containers of pesto perching precariously in my freezer, waiting to be included in Christmas baskets.
     
    marlingardener, Nov 30, 2017
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  9. Majikseb

    Silentrunning

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    Marlin, I usually purchase a good grade of potting soil for my potted herbs. This usually includes fertilizer. Would I be better off to just buy top soil and amend it with a little sand to provide a "leaner" soil?
     
    Silentrunning, Nov 30, 2017
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  10. Majikseb

    marlingardener

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    Silent, if you are using MiracleGro potting soil, the fertilizers in it usually are used up after three months. It's great stuff for getting newly transplanted greenery started. Go ahead and use it if you are happy with your herbs. If you need to move an herb to a larger pot, the top soil/sand mix (at a ratio of about 5 to 1, depending on the density of the topsoil) will serve you well.
    Please don't take my advice as gospel--every gardener does things differently, and finds out what works for him/her.
     
    marlingardener, Nov 30, 2017
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  11. Majikseb

    Fagiolino

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    I Love pesto too :)
    I suggest you to use the pine nuts, have you ever tried?
     
    Fagiolino, Dec 11, 2017 at 4:59 PM
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  12. Majikseb

    alp

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    I have tried it. For some reason, not so good as shop bought though. Can't use pine nuts any more as they are very expensive.

    I love the cheese in the sweet and hot round tomatoes or chilli. Brilliant with spaghetti. Is it snowing in Italy?
     
    alp, Dec 11, 2017 at 5:07 PM
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  13. Majikseb

    Fagiolino

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    Yes they are :(
    Sometimes I collect pine nuts in a park, but the powder that covers the shell really annoys me. Anyway, since to follow the recipe I need only of a tablespoon of pine nuts (for 5-600 gr of pasta), I rarely buy a small pine nuts bag in a discount market.

    Yes it's snowing, but only in the northern part of the country. Here in Rome the temperature is about 15°C but there is a very strong and icy wind.. In UK?
     
    Fagiolino, Dec 11, 2017 at 6:32 PM
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  14. Majikseb

    alp

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    Ah?! You can collect pine nut in a park! Whoa! That's amazing! Mother Nature favours you!

    Your English is so good. Have you been living abroad? Or your parent(s) English?

    Nearly all the UK have been covered in snow, as far south as London. I live just outside London .. What they call the Greater London. We have had snow and now it is disappearing.. Southampton and Cornwall have been spared and some people are crying for snow and some are crying because of snow!:eek:
     
    alp, Dec 11, 2017 at 6:43 PM
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  15. Majikseb

    Fagiolino

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    Yes we can :) I've always thought it was possible practically everywhere..

    Thank you very much @alp . I think it's not bad considering I live in Italy but I really need to improve and my writing skill is much better than my speaking one. Honestly 5 years ago my English was much better then I had to stop taking lessons because I start studying at university but I'm very lucky because I'm still friend with my teacher (she's from Leeds) and considering that she is so kind with me, she allows me to practice English when we meet for a beer or a glass of wine.
    I lived in London for a couple of months, about 15 years ago. I love your country and I'm still undecided if moving there or not, before of the Brexit. I'd love to live an experience in a different British area, to discover a different reality.
    Anyway I do my best to practice the language, reading books and watching Tv show like Masterchef and X-factor UK.

    I've been to Cornwall, what a beautiful county! I guess it's marvelous now :)
     
    Fagiolino, Dec 11, 2017 at 7:14 PM
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  16. Majikseb

    alp

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    If you love food, stay in Italy. Cornwall is lovely and a very popular holiday destination and the weather is more clement than it is here in Essex.

    Yes, listening to the BBC World News helps. I learned my English by listening to the BBC World News. But now diversity and inclusion mean all sorts of accents could be included.

    Come for a holiday and you can see where your heart belongs. Masterchef can be very interesting viewing. Sometimes I think it can be so cruel. So much pressure and being watched don't help..
     
    alp, Dec 11, 2017 at 7:42 PM
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  17. Majikseb

    Fagiolino

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    I do love food! Honestly I think we have a splendid and cheap range of fruits and vegetables, an excellent cooking tradition but in UK you have the chance to get the best multicultural food in Europe!

    I should come over next year. I have a friend in Oxford who could put me up for a weekend. Can't wait :)

    The Italian Masterchef is usually more cruel than the British one...some of the presenters never put competitors at ease..but I watch it as well :)
     
    Fagiolino, Dec 11, 2017 at 9:14 PM
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  18. Majikseb

    alp

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    That's why I like about the English/British. They are rather civilised compared with quite a few other peoples, more tolerant, more ready to challenge, some a bit too liberal for children who haven't developed a sense of right or wrong ..

    I feel happy and sad when I am in a supermarket where there is always an array of out of season fruits and vegs. But think of the fertilisers and pesticides or dirty farmed prawns from hot countries.. Everything cultivated en masse has its drawbacks.
     
    alp, Dec 12, 2017 at 7:50 AM
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