So ’tis the season for Spring and planting and best of all getting outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather! A few weeks ago I posted an article about How to Start a Vegetable Garden and it got a great response from you guys.
I thought it would be fun to do another post on How to Start an Herb garden. I LOVE having fresh herbs on hand. They make things so much more flavorful and darn if buying the herbs at the grocery store week after week doesn’t add up! Plus you can grow exactly what you like- there was a time last year I had to go to four stores to find fresh dill for a recipe.
So here is the second part in the series and this is How to Start an Herb Garden with some ideas and tips to consider.
Herb gardens can be grown on the patio or in a few pots on the windowsill. You might also consider having herbs mixed in with flowers in your front flower bed. Most herb plants stay small (like thyme and oregano) and can be tucked into most open areas. The most important thing to consider is the sunlight needs for the herbs you choose. The majority of herbs will require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. So a bright window will work or outdoors for most people.
After you choose where you want your container garden, there are a few tips to make sure that the plants you grow are healthy. If you are planting in a container, make sure there are drainage holes so the plants are not sitting in a soggy, wet mess. Give the plants some room to grow. And if you are planting them in one large container, plant them at least 4-6” away from other plants in all directions. If planting directly in the ground, keep the same spacing distance for smaller plants but with larger plants like parsley or rosemary, give them at least 12” to grow.
Mint in particular can get to be crazy big so that is best planted alone in a container or it has a tendency to take over. Mint really likes to spread out so if you do use a small pot and find your plant isn’t doing very well, you might want to transplant it to a larger area where it can spread out. I have also found mint does better in shade. When I have tried to use mint as an indoor potted plant it tends to get too much sun in my kitchen and starts to wither.
An essential part of a healthy herb garden is feeding your plants a nutritious mix of fertilizer so they will produce nutrient-rich leaves. You can pick up a good fertilizer at your local garden center and the bag will last for ages and ages. It is best to apply the fertilizer at least monthly and water it in well when you do.
The most popular herbs to grow in an herb garden are basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and lavender. Each of these herbs have tons of different varieties and can grow in most areas of the US.
Keep in mind that all herbs are perennials by nature but some do act like annuals in particular zones.
Water the herb garden daily the first week and then back off to twice a week. If the temperature rises above 90 degrees, water daily in the morning hours. Once the plants are 6” tall, snip off a few leaves to go into your favorite recipe as clipping the head leaves off signals to the plant to keep growing – so make sure you are harvesting at least a few times a month.
When you first start with an herb garden, here are some herbs that tend to grow well together:
Mediterranean varieties: Thyme, Rosemary, oregano, lavender and sage.
Moisture Loving: Basil and Cilantro (these prefer more moisture than the Mediterranean listed above)
If you want more information, you can see an article here with sunlight and spacing requirements for each herb.