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German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Selecting herbs

Which herbs you decide to grow will depend, among other considerations, on how much space you have available, how much sun the site receives and, of course, your own tastes.

With all the different shapes, colours, textures and fragrances of flowers and foliage available, it's easy to produce a variety of effects. A garden full of aromatic plants is a treat for the senses of sight, touch, taste and smell.

Planning the site and layout

Choose as sunny a site as possible (6 to 8 hours of full sun a day), to encourage your plants to produce the essential oils that give them their flavour.

Tucking herbs into a vegetable garden is a good way to add variety and will protect your crops from insect pests. You can also plant them in formal or informal beds, place them in borders or grow them in pots on a balcony or patio.

Soil, seedlings and planting herbs

Most herbs require rich, loose, well-drained soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. You can improve the quality of your soil by adding compost or well-decomposed manure.

A number of species can be sown directly outdoors in spring, as soon as the ground warms up.

Others should be planted from seedlings started earlier indoors or propagated from stem cuttings or by division.

Transplant the seedlings outdoors once all risk of frost is past and after you have hardened them off gradually by placing them outdoors for a few hours each day for ten days.

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