By Lorraine Kiefer

Have you ever sung or hummed “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” make popular by Simon and Garfunkel? Well, this old favorite comes to mind when I touch and smell the herbs and especially when I plan our annual herb festival weekend. I can hardly believe that this May 27-28 will be our 41st event. It is free and open to the public and a great way to learn about herbs.

Do you grow herbs? Whether you plant them in a pot or a plot, growing herbs is part of a timeless tradition.

If you have never planted an herb garden now is the time to do so. Actually herbs can be planted almost any time, but spring is one of the best times. Even the smallest patch of herbs is fun, interesting, soothing and entertaining to grow. These plants are useful for so many projects including cooking, crafting, making fragrances and healing.

Most culinary herbs need a sunny, well-drained spot, but there are some herbs like lady’s mantle, sweet woodruff, sweet cicely, mint, Monarda, parsley and a few others that can be grown in shade or part shade.

It is important to prepare the soil well before starting an herb garden. Remove sod and all weeds. If the soil has a lot of weeds till it, sprinkle it with water and then cover it with a piece of black plastic for at least a week or two after tilling. The sun will raise temperatures and the heat under the plastic will cause the weed seeds and roots to sprout, then the darkness and hot temperatures will also kill them. A couple of weeks or so of this should act as a natural herbicide and get rid of weeds. Some folks like to till once more and cover a second time to be sure that all the weed seeds die.

A generous sprinkling of lime is usually the next step in our sandy acidic soils. Although some soils need lime each spring, you may want to stop at the county extension service and pick up a soil test bag to do a soil test if you have your doubts. We always lime and fertilize each spring. I also feed now with time release osmocote because it lasts three month.

We also like to add organic materials in the way of compost. This is very, very important for healthy soil. To garden naturally it is essential to use lots of good compost made from your grass clipping and leaves to keep your soil healthy and full of life.

Make a small ring the size of a trash can from hardware cloth or chicken wire. Have this located in or near the garden so you can toss weeds, peelings and other organic materials in it.vJust move the wire to another…