Herbs & Spices – Preparing Your Soil

Herbs & Spices - Preapring Your Soil

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the 2nd article on herbs and spices! In this article I will discuss how you can prepare your soil for the delicious crop your going to harvest.

First off, I’ll discuss what fertilizer is ideal for herbs and for spices then I move on to how you can maintain your soil; from sprout to harvest. Lastly, I will touch upon some FAQs that other ask. Let’s dive right in!

Herb & Spice Garden Ideas. Photo by Singkham

Fertilizer Recommendations – Best Fertilizer for Herbs & Spices

In this section I’ll offer you the most ideal fertilizer to get a large crop and a tasty herb or spice out of your harvest.

What nutrients and minerals are provided by fertilizer?

There are three main nutrients in fertilizer, known as N-P-K, or Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium respectively. Along with these nutrients you have secondary nutrients and micro nutrients which are contained in magnesium, calcium, lime, gypsum, urea, manure, etc.

Other micro nutrients include (Cl) Chlorine, (Fe) Iron, (Ni) Nickel, (Cu) Copper, (Mn) Manganese, (Zn) Zinc etc.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is required in the largest quantity in plants which mainly goes towards protein synthesis as well as other physiological processes and stalk growth. In other words, it makes your plants grow strong.

If a Nitrogen deficiency occurs, it will appear on the lower leaves with a yellow to pale green discoloration. But beware of using too much Nitrogen as it will result in a lowered immunity overall for the plant as well as its ability to fruit.

Phosphorous (P)

This nutrient is easily found in animal manure in the from of orthophosphate. It’s released as it decomposes.

It adds flavor in your crop and improves you crop’s ability to flower. An additional boon is that it prevents pests from calling your crop home.

Potassium aka Potash (K)

Potassium boosts seed and root production as well as improve resistance to plant diseases. Again, beware of using too much, because as a salt it may cause damage. Too much of it will not allow other nutrients to be absorbed.

On the other hand, Potassium improves your plants tolerance to extreme weather conditions and drought and contributes to overall plant health.

How do minerals and nutrients affect plant growth?

There are numerous nutrients that your plants need to survive. Some they need in small quantities and others they need considerably more. Each nutrient promotes certain aspects of plant growth and physiology.

As you know, for a plant to be overall healthy, you need to administer a certain ratio of N:P:K fertilizer. As you become more informed about fertilizer, you will be able to look at signs of nutrient deficiencies and identify the correct source to used to get your plant back to optimal health.

Fertilizer is absorbed through the root system so it’s no use spraying it on leaves.

  • Nitrogen is used to produce amino acids
  • Phosphorous is used to produce ATP
  • Potassium regulates salt in physiological processes

Also, be aware that you need the correct pH for nutrients to be absorbed and that fertilizer can influence pH levels.

But beware of using too much – I Can’t Stress this Enough

There is a risk of using too much fertilizer. You see, the soil can only absorb and use a certain amount of nutrients. Any extra nutrients just leaches right throughout the soil and into the nearest water source or where a deficit occurs.

If that happens, the imbalanced nutrient content in the soil will be used by weeds for example or will be found in rivers and ponds. This boosts algae growth and creates a potential grave for aquatic animals if the algae takes over.

Always first confirm how much fertilizer you should use and prepare right ratio beforehand; protect the environment.

Maintaining Your Soil – 8 Easy Steps to Take Care of Your Herbs & Spices

I will discuss how you can take care of your soil so your crop stays fresh and fertile during the growing period up until its ready to be harvested. Here are several steps you can take to ensure your soil stays healthy and fertile all year long.

1. Start Composting – Recycle Nutrients

Nothing says sustainability more like allowing the earth to recycle its old nutrients. By composting you not only save money but you’ll attract microbial activity to the pile and incorporate it into your soil.

2. Organic Matter – Improve Fertility

If you are not going to compost, it will still be wise to add organic matter in the form of fertilizer to your soil. Determine which specific nutrients your crop requires and buy the correct ratio of N:P:K as well micro nutrients.

3. Microbial Growth – Add Earthworms

A great way of keeping soil healthy naturally is to add earthworms to the soil. They naturally till and process nutrients in the soil to such an extent that soil will maintain itself.

4. Cover Crops – Soil Protection

Cover crops can offer great protection from weather conditions as well as add specific nutrients to your soil when they die off and is processed over time. Some cover crops promote the growth of other crops by having coexistence boon with its environment.

5. Green Manuring – Recycle Your Previous Crops

This is a process where you plough or till recently cropped plants and legumes back into the soil. You are essentially turning your soil into a natural compost area.

6. Crop Rotation – Keep your Soil Fresh

Different crops take in different nutrients. It is only macro nutrients that is taken up by each plant in considerable quantities in different ratios. But to ensure your soil has time to recover nutrients, you can try different crops after each harvest.

7. Till Less – Don’t Disturb the Ecosystem

It is only when your soil is brackish that you should consider tilling fertilizer into it. When it has that healthy dark color to it, indicating it is fertile, that you should leave it be. Over-tilling will cause you to lose nutrients and microbial life, because you are disturbing its sensitive ecosystem.

8. Fallow – Let the Land Rest

When you have cycled your crops regularly and notice that your harvest is no longer as abundant as usual, it is ideal to let the soil rest instead of adding more fertilizer. Consider using another plot of land until the current plot’s soil has time to recover.

Frequently Asked Questions – What Other People are Asking.

See here what others are asking about herbs and spices. Maybe there’s a question you haven’t thought of that you’ll find an answer to here.

What type of soil is best for herbs?

Herbs prefer soils that drain well. You can assure this by adding mulch to the soil mixture or fertilizer that is chunky. Make sure that it drains deeper and not out of the soil.

How do you grow herbs in pots?

Again, it is important that water can drain through the soil. Ensure that there is enough soil in the pot for enough nutrients and that water does not accumulate and flood the herb or spice. Watch the video below on how Burpee explains to plant potted herbs.

Do herbs need sun or shade?

The majority of herbs need abundant sunlight in order to thrive. Confirm that your herbs are exposed to an average of 8 hours sunlight per day.

When buying seeds in packets, you can inspect the back of the packet for an indication of how much sunlight it requires.

What is the best fertilizer for herbs?

As with other plants, your herbs and spices need an all round fertilizer that can supply a range of nutrients to your crop. For a healthier flavour and lifestyle, consider using organic fertilizer.

The overall verdict is that your own natural compost is a good substitute to bought fertilizer. Herbs do not need a lot of fertilizer, but by applying a fraction you can have great results.

Do you need to fertilize herbs?

Yes, apply fertilizer directly to the soil and water well. Use fertilizer sparingly and accordingly.

How do you fertilize herbs naturally?

Ensure that you either receive or make organic fertilizer. Sources for this include manure and compost that you have prepared yourself. Always make sure that it contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

Which herbs grow best together?

Height – Place herbs and spices together that will grow to the same height; so that your crop does not have to compete for sunlight.

Water Requirements – Do not place herbs and spices together who require different water regiments. Do not place crops together that require well drained soils and crops that require more water.

Thank You For Reading! – What’s Next?

Thank you! I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it educational. There’s a lot more to come for future posts. My next blog post will include a review of products that can be used in preparing your soil and how to prepare your harvest for drying and storage.

In my previous article I give you an overview of the different herbs and spices as well as their health benefits.

==> Check this link for my previous article!

17 Comments on “Herbs & Spices – Preparing Your Soil

  1. Now that’s an article that my wife will definitely find interesting. She has an affection for plants and all this and she likes to learn new things all the time. I will bookmark this page to show her as I am sure she will find it useful. Thank you for sharing all this information!

  2. Thisbis highly insightful for me to the extent that i bookmarked thisbparticular page in order to check more for other useful tips. I didn’t know herbs and spices play important roles this much.. I am planning to go into farming anytime soon and i am sure this article will be helpful

    Thanks for sharing

    • Herbs and spices have become so ingrained in our daily lives, that we forgot to think about it as medicinal.

      I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on more insight into sustainable gardening!

  3. This is a fabulous post. I get so confused about soil composition and soil health that I am surprised anything I plant actually grows. In saying that, they don’t grow too well, or some die (sadly), so this post is helping me realise that I really do need to pay closer attention to my beloved plants and herbs by thinking about the nutritional compounds of the soil and use fertilizer. I often lose track of how long they have been planted for and so likely miss when I should be fertilizing. I’m sure it’s not too often lol! Thanks for sharing, I’ll make sure I bookmark this post, to remind me of what I need to do, when to do it, and to get my compost up and running again for the natural fertility factor! 

  4. Boy am I glad I came across this article!! I enjoyed every bit of it, Growing up back then in Africa, Soil was very rich, if you dropped a seed, be sure to see it sprout in few days or weeks but it’s no longer so, Our soils have been comprised around the world. An article such as this gives hope that we can make our soil the way we desire. As a newbie in herbalism, I will like to know, as we know dandelions grow everywhere but I will love to have mine grow on rich soil, is it necessary to go through all you mentioned for dandelions or not?

    • Dandelions may be perennials, but they rely heavily on their roots to survive drought and winters. Taking good care of your soil will allow you to have one thing less to worry about when abnormal weather conditions arrive.

      I would advise studying what specific nutrients dandelions require and apply that if you want to have a great harvest.

  5. I was searching in Google to find out how to prepare the soil for the good crop and herb or spice which we are going to harvest and then landed here in this article. I’m very thankful to you for providing such details about preparing the soil for good crop. You have not only described how to prepare the soil but has also provided all scientific reasons to explain it very well. Thanks a lot for this article.

  6. Dear Ian,

    To be honest I am very interested in gardening and I do have a small garden in my home which has some herbs and spices.

    Preparing the soil plays a vital role and I do focus & spend more time in preparing the soil before planting. So your post means a lot to me and you have given great value via your post. Thanks a lot!

    8 steps you shared is an eye-opener and I am just following a few at the moment. And going (Growing) forward I will implement what I learned from your post. I am bookmarking your post for future references. The video you embedded is very helpful.

    My grandpa often use to say… Watching tv is not our entertainment, gardening is our entertainment.

    Happy Gardening!


    • Your grandfather knows the importance of living a good life.

      Please let me know how your crops progress and if my insight was helpful!

  7. I am so glad I have come across this article as I have been worried recently about my chilli tree where I have noticed the leaves are turning yellow.

    I am an amature gardener so I rely on the advise from the local garden center who were not sure what the problem could be.

    Thank you I now have some information on how to address the problem.

    • Hi Debbie. Great to know I could be helpful!

      A lot of wisdom can be gained if just know where to look. Let me know if applying fertilizer and nutrients helped your chili plant get back to full health.

  8. There’s so much to learn about herbs from this article. It just blows my mind. I did not know that herbs require 4+ hours of direct sunlight each day. It’s good to know that herbs need to be fertilized. Thank you for the very educational article. You say that we need to fertilize our herbs, but does that apply for all of them, are there any exceptions?

    • Hi Alex.

      Some herbs that require well drained soil do not need a lot of fertilizer. But the soil can still become barren, so be careful not to neglect it as it is the only source of nutrients for your plants. Your soil will be the indicator if you need to add fertilizer or not. Hope this helps. 🙂

  9. Hey Ian, Great website. Very interesting article. I admire your passion of wanting to bridge the gap between human and nature. A very interesting and educating information on the topic herbs & spices. I have very little experience in cultivation and in my opinion this article and the topics will educate and improve one’s ability in relation to the landscaping, nature and the environment. Keep up the good work. 

  10. Your post is comprehensive and apt.  My best part is where you discussed how minerals and nutrients affect plant growth.  I would also like to learn the effect of the climatic conditions of where the herb is being grown.  In your opinion do you think that proper nutrients and mineral can checkmate the adverse effects of climate on a herb.  

    • Hi Paschal,

      I believe that climate can have a major effect on soil, so mush so, that there will be cases where climate will cause your soil to be fertile but nothing will be able to grow on its surface. 

      In cases such as this it is better to counteract the weather conditions with some man made intuition on your side. Create the environment for your plants to thrive and don’t just rely on the soil to manage your crop.

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