Italian herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary are what gives Italian food its distinct flavor. Bring a little piece of Italy into your garden by growing your own Italian herbs. Here are a few tips for growing these aromatic and flavorful herbs.
Basil is a very forgiving and easy herb to grow. Basil is a annual plant that requires little water so it is a hard plant to kill. Common pests that plague basil plants are snails, slugs and Japanese beetles. Prevent them from attacking your basil plant by placing copper strips around your garden. The strips build up an electrical charge that deter the pests from getting to your plants. Basil produces a white flower at the top of each stem when the plant is ready to go to seed. Once the plant goes to seed the leaves lose their flavor and the plant starts to die. Prevent this by removing the flower before it fully blooms. This will prolong the growing season of the plant and allow it to grow larger and bushier before it goes to seed. Grow basil in full sun where it gets direct sun for at least 6 to 8 hours a day and s pace each plant out about 1 foot apart.
Parsley is a perennial plant but often goes to seed in its second year and dies during cold winters so many gardens grow it as an annual. Parsley can be a difficult plant to grow by seed because the seeds contain a chemical that stunts germination. Negate this chemical by soaking the seeds in warm water for two days before planting. When planting parsley, plant it in full or partial sun. N ematodes, also known as roundworms, are a common enemy of the parsley plant so if your garden has an nematode problem introduce a well-known nematode predator to your garden: the ladybug. Space parsley plants out 10 to 12 inches apart.
Oregano is a perennial herb that loves hot weather. Plant oregano is full sun and space the plants out about 12 to 15 inches apart. Mature oregano plants produce purple flowers when they are ready to go to seed. Harvest oregano plants just before they flower to get the best flavor. Aphids and spider mites are common oregano pests but they can be removed easily by spraying the plant with a steady stream of water to wash the insects off.
Rosemary is a hardy evergreen perennial shrub. This herb is a very aromatic plant that produces small blue flowers. Harvest the rosemary sprigs before the plant flowers. Rosemary plants prefer dry, well-drained soil in full sun. Space rosemary plants out about 18 to 24 inches apart. Common pests for rosemary plants are white fly and mealybugs. These pests can be removed by swabbing the insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
You too can Grow an Italian Herb Garden, The Helpful Gardener
Tips on Growing Your Favorite Herbs, ivillage
Parsley, University of Minnesota