How to Start an Herb Garden

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Gardening has been around for centuries as people have used it first and foremost as a food source and a means of livelihood. While those reasons are still prevalent today, many are getting into gardening as a hobby and as a way to be healthier and more economically responsible.

Herbs are able to add a lot of flavor to a variety of dishes and baked goods. You can also use them to brew your own tea. You can really enjoy whatever you make knowing it’s all thanks to your green thumb!

Whether you’re a novice gardener or just getting into it, starting an herb garden will bring you a lot of satisfaction without much hard work as herbs are able to grow in a variety of conditions. We’ve provided simple steps to get you started on your own herb garden.

Select Your Herbs

Herbs1jpg

Lavender and lemon balm, waiting to be planted. 

Once you decide you want to start an herb garden, you need to pick what herbs you’d like to grow. You can either start with seeds or starter plants, depending on your preference. There is such a wide variety of herbs to choose from, including:

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Tarragon
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Lemon balm
  • Lavender

There’s a lot you can do with herbs. If you’re looking to use them to cook with, basil, chives and oregano add a punch of flavor to savory dishes, while lavender and rosemary add both aroma and flavor to many baked goods. If you’d like to make tea or cocktails, mint is especially refreshing.

Choose Your Container

Once you decide what herbs you’d like, you need to find the right container. Even if you have space for a garden, or currently have a garden, planting your herbs in a container will be beneficial in many ways.

For one, herbs don’t require much maintenance and planting them in a container allows you to move them indoors if and when the weather turns cold. You can also start your herbs in the winter or early spring and move them outdoors when the weather is ready for them.

Placing your herbs in individual containers is also aesthetically pleasing as you can put them in a variety of containers including:

  • Colored ceramic pots
  • Vases
  • Metal boxes
  • Wooden boxes

You can choose a bigger container and plant herbs with similar growing requirements together, if desired. However, you’ll want to make sure to plant mint in its own pot as it tends to spread and can take over anything near it.

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A pot of mint. It’s best to plant mint in its own container because it tends to grow out and spread. 

Whatever container you decide on, it’s important that it has drainage holes in order to avoid root rot. If not, you can simply drill a couple into the bottom of the container. It’s also important to use high-quality potting soil.

The potting soil you plant your herbs in will be its foundation. If you think about it, the container and potting soil will be the home that nurtures your herbs so you’ll want to choose a soil that gives herbs what they need to thrive.

Herbs will do best in a potting soil that holds water but also provides good drainage. One soil that we found does just that is Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro. Mix the soil thoroughly in a big container before using some to plant your herbs. A great thing about this mix is that it can be used whether you choose to plant your herbs in a container or in the ground.

Find a Place for Your Garden

Outdoors

You have several choices when it comes to where you want to plant your herb garden. If you wish to go the more traditional route and place your herbs in an outdoor garden, make sure you choose a sunny space with rich soil, which will make an ideal place to plant your herb garden. But if your soil leaves much to be desired, you can certainly plant herbs in a raised garden bed and fill it with high-quality soil that your herbs need to thrive.

Garden3


Two raised garden beds are pictured along with several pots of various herbs. While herbs can be planted directly in the ground or in a raised garden bed, planting them in containers allows you to move them around as needed.

If all your lawn space is in the shade, there are herbs, including parsley, mint and cilantro, that do well with just receiving 3 or 4 hours of sun. Rosemary, thyme and lavender would do better receiving more sun, so consider what the area you have in mind receives when it comes to sun and shade. You can simply check the plant tag to see how much sun each herb should receive.

It is important to note that if you live in a very hot climate, too much sun can dry out your herbs. This is another reason why planting your herbs in a container is a smart move because then you can move the container if you see they’re receiving too much sun or shade.

If you have more space, a herb spiral could also work very well.

BALCONY

Balcony4

A garden box attached to a balcony, filled with lavender, chives, rosemary and mint. 

Many people might not have the outdoor space for a garden. Apartment buildings or condos often have no place for a personal garden. However the absence of a lawn does not mean that you can’t have a garden!

If you don’t have lawn space, but happen to have a balcony, that will make a great space for a windowsill herb garden. That way you’ll have easy access to your herbs while allowing them to get the sunlight that they need. Simply secure either a box to the balcony, which will allow good drainage, or opt to set several containers with herbs on the balcony.

INDOORS

Many herbs can be grown indoors so if you don’t have outdoor space or a balcony, you’ll still be able to grow herbs indoors. Ideally, you may want to keep your herb garden in the kitchen so you can cook and bake and have quick and easy access to fresh, homegrown herbs.

To grow indoors, herbs need a lot of natural sunlight. We’re talking at least six hours a day for most herbs. If your kitchen doesn’t receive a lot of natural light or if you don’t have the counter space there, you can absolutely set up your herb garden in another room.

Whatever room you decide, place your herb garden next to a window in a sunny spot. If you have a hard time finding a place that receives a lot of natural sun, you still have options! A grow light mimics direct sunlight so it can work if you can’t find a sunny area in your home or apartment.

However, before purchasing a grow light, it might be worth it to see how your herbs so with the indoor sunlight that they’re receiving. Watch for signs that your herbs aren’t receiving enough sun, such as becoming pale in color and producing small leaves. If there’s not enough sun inside or outside your home, you may want to look at getting a grow light.

As for temperature, herbs will be happy with a mild 65-70 degree indoor temperature.

Feeding Your herbs

It’s important to plant your herbs in high-quality potting soil. Once your herbs are planted, you’ll want to make you sure to regularly water them, especially in the summer months. If you choose to keep your herb garden outdoors, a good garden hose will help you easily water all your herbs while saving you time. We recommend the Reel RSH125 Crate Hose Reel for a high-quality self-winding hose that will help you water your herbs without getting caught and tangled.

As stated above, herbs are pretty easy to maintain as they typically don’t require fertilizer, as long as you use a high-quality potting soil. Once again, be sure to check the plant tag for the special needs of each herb.

Harvesting Your Herbs

When it comes to harvesting your herbs, the more you pick, the more you will get so harvest often. It’s also important to harvest before your herbs start flowering because you’ll get more flavorful, better tasting herbs before they start to flower so make sure to check how much they’re yielding.

Make sure not to remove more than one-third of the plant to ensure that it will keep growing. When harvesting, just pinch off individual leaves, not the whole stalk. Remember to pinch back after harvesting.

Whether you plan to use fresh herbs in a recipe, or dry them to use later, growing them yourself ensures that you’ll have plenty or fresh, flavorful herbs ready at your fingertips.

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