Herbs or their leaves are used as medicines, for seasoning dishes, as fragrance in perfumes, candles, dried floral arrangements, sachets etc and their dried seeds are used as spices. Some of the common herbs are mint, fennel, coriander, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary etc.
Herbs can be annuals growing only for a season such as basil, dill etc or perennial, those which come back year after year for eg. thyme. Most of them require little care and are nearly pest free. They can be grown in the garden along with flowers or as borders, along paths or in containers out doors or indoors. They require well draining moderately rich soil, ample air and sunlight, except a few which prefer shade. There is no need to fertilize herbs too often. Too much fertilizers or organic matter can lead the plant to become large and leggy and loose its actual flavour. If herbs are planted for their flavour or for seasoning with their leaves, pick the tender leaves before they bloom for best results.
While herbs are plants actually grown fresh or purchased in dried form, Spices come from the stems, bark, seeds, roots or fruit of various aromatic plants. They include the tropical aromatics, such as pepper, cinnamon and cloves and the spice seeds, sesame, poppy and mustard. Spices are mainly used for flavouring and they also have certain medicinal properties and are used in pharmaceutical, perfumery, cosmetics and several other industries.
Curry, allspice and other exotic herbs and spices are well within your grasp as an herb gardener. With the right light and temperature, you can grow a successful tropical herb garden--inside and outside. Try some of these varieties in a container garden, and you`ll appreciate the extra flavor and aroma that only freshly harvested herbs can offer.
Tropical herbs demand full sun and warm temperatures. If the herbs are grown outdoors , stay on the lookout for the first frost; tropical herbs won`t survive cold temperatures and must be brought indoors.
It`s especially important to never underestimate light requirements; all herbs and spices develop their best oil content and flavors in full sunlight. Although they can sometimes be grown in less light, they won`t yield premium flavor quality unless they receive ample sun exposure.
Greenhouses, sun porches or southern exposures are the best sites for growing an herb garden. In the winter, you may want to supplement with grow lights.
Choose a high-quality potting mix and a container with good drainage. The best soil feels friable but spongy, so that it holds moisture but still is loose enough to allow good drainage. (Decorative or ornate planters are ideal for herb gardens that will be displayed in more formal settings.)
Manure tea, or compost tea, is a good way to fertilize plants organically. For a good long-term solution, use time-release capsules; these granular fertilizers can last 6 to 12 months. Once the soil is in the container, mix in the time-release capsules using a trowel.
Feel the soil each week to monitor its moisture level. The water requirements for each herb garden will depend on the size and material of the container, the number of drainage holes in the bottom and the particular herb varieties included in the mix.