Growing Food

How to Start an Herb Garden

March 15, 2019
gardening hat, gloves and sheers on an outdoor table

Whether you’re looking to line a sunny windowsill or plant an entire garden plot, growing herbs provides you with an endless supply of seasoning ingredients and healing teas. Even if you feel you lack a green thumb, you can experience growing success if you choose the right plants.

Something about gardening soothes the soul. Raising plants reminds you of your connection with nature and the cycle of life. Get started on your perfect herb garden today by following the steps below.

Select a Location

Choosing the right location depends upon the space you have available. Apartment or condo residents without private outdoor yards can still create a windowsill garden. Most plants require at least six hours of sunlight daily, so line your brightest sills with a variety of containers.

If you have an outdoor planting space, you should locate your garden away from the house where shadows fall. Pick a patch with soft, loamy soil and access to ample sunlight. Plants also need water, and locating your garden near a water source will spare you cumbersome hikes with a sprinkling can.

Ready the Soil for Planting

One of the first things you’ll learn about how to plant an herb garden is that the right soil can make or break your success. Good soil consists of two components: porous material and solids. A 50 percent balance of each usually produces the best results.

If you’re growing an indoor garden, consult with your local nursery on the best potting soil to select for the type of herbs you have in mind. If planting outdoors, take a soil sample with you. Major retail chains such as Lowe’s sell soil testing kits, and some nurseries can test your soil’s pH and nutrient levels onsite.

Once you know what your soil needs for herb-growing success, you can buy the right fertilizer. If you’re into reusing and recycling, you can create a compost pile with old coffee grounds, some fruit and vegetable leftovers and other safe, organic waste.

Choose a Variety of Herbs

Now you’re ready to select which herbs to plant! Consider location, climate and desired purpose when making your decisions.

If you’re planting herbs to have a ready supply of kitchen spices, you can go a bit Simon and Garfunkel with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, not to mention basil. As these herbs grow well in containers, they’re perfect for indoor gardens.

Perhaps you favor natural healing methods and want to improve your health. If so, try herbs like chamomile and lavender to combat anxiety, spearmint and peppermint to alleviate tummy trouble and St. John’s wort and saffron to help banish the blues.

If you have an outdoor garden and it gets chilly for part of the year, stick to hardy perennial herbs such as chives and winter savory. Conversely, oregano and cilantro both thrive in hot, dry climates, such as those in the desert Southwest.

Treat Plants to Tender, Loving Care

Plants need plenty of sunlight and water to produce at their best. Take note that most herbs require little in the way of supplemental nutrition during the growing process, and over-fertilizing leads to loss of flavor and fragrance.

Herbs require regular pruning, so for the best growth and the best flavor, pinch off the top inch of each branch regularly. Perennial herbs need additional pruning in the spring to remove dead branches.

Savor the Fruits of Your Labor

You don’t have to be Mary, Mary quite contrary to enjoy watching your garden grow. Herbs can even bring people together, so consider sharing your fresh crops with friends, neighbors and co-workers. You can also share your tips for how to start an herb garden on social media to inspire others to enjoy the benefits of growing plants.

Happy Herb Gardening

Now that you have your starting point, you can enjoy the benefits of growing your herbs easily. Even if your area is still in the grip of winter, you can start planning your tasty, healthy garden. Get your green thumb on!

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