Herb Gardening Basics
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Growing herbs on your own is one of the most rewarding experiences on your culinary journey. There’s nothing more exciting than walking out into your garden and snipping a few stalks of fresh herbs to be used in a recipe. So check out these herb gardening basics.
Italian herb garden
I love making my own seasonings and flavorings and Italian seasoning is one I use the most throughout the year. I love it even more when I make it from my own homegrown herbs! I grow marjoram, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary and parsley in my garden and dehydrate the herbs to make it.
I’ve also created gorgeous herb wreaths to hang in my kitchen and snip off of to cook.
The basics of herb gardening are this: they grow anywhere and everywhere! The only distinction between choosing the types of herbs to grow is the amount of water needed and whether the herb is annual (needs replanting every year) or perennial (regrows on its own every year). With these two tips in mind, you can have a beautiful herb garden in no time.
For beginner gardeners, it would be wise to grow your herbs in containers since you can move the containers around to spots where it is the sunniest. All of the most commonly used herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme, and tarragon need at least six hours of full sun in a day. To ensure that your herbs get the required amount of sunlight, place your herbs against a south-facing wall. If you are planting herbs on your windowsill, choose a south-facing window.
Choose containers that are deep and wide so that you can fit several kinds of herbs in one pot while allowing the roots to grow strong and deep. Of course, if you have the space, you can grow your herbs on raised beds in your garden. Herbs require soil with excellent drainage so you may not want to grow them in the ground.
Instead, you can use a good organic potting mix and natural compost to give your herbs a good foundation. Water them less frequently but in large quantities, meaning gives those herbs a good soak every time you water them, but do it only when the soil feels a little dry to the touch. Check out how to make sure they get an inch of water per week here. You can arrange herbs according to watering needs and sunlight needs
This information is readily available on the seed packets or seedling pot markers. For example, you can grow sage, oregano, and basil in the same pot since they all require the same amount of water and sunlight and thrive well together. Rosemary, thyme, and parsley can be grown together as well. For more on what companion planting is all about, check this out. Some invasive species like mint and lemon balm are best kept in a container separated from other herbs since they will take over everything if allowed to roam free!
I do better if I start with plants from a nursery or seedlings. The only exception is cilantro. It’s pretty easy to seed. And you need cilantro in the ground earlier, as soon as it get warm and that’s early in Oklahoma, it will bolt or go to seed and no longer taste good. Check out this Month by Month Vegetable Garden Planting Guide for more information on when to plant.
Herbs will grow through most of the spring and summer seasons and start to wilt right before the weather changes in autumn. If you have planted your herbs in containers, you can easily replant the perennial herbs into smaller containers and bring them into the house.
Be aware that basil is very tender, and will die off after a cool spell, it can’t take any kind of freeze or frost. But some of your plants will grow all winter such as sage and thyme. At least here in my climate. Every once in a while it will get cold enough in winter to kill them, but usually I have some fresh herbs year-round.
If your herbs are on a plot of land outside, you can also replant them into smaller containers before the first frost and keep them on a sunny windowsill. Pull out the annual herbs and discard them, since you will have to replant them next year.
If you are interested in growing herbs, there are a couple of things that you need to know. Here is a rundown of herb gardening basics:
DIY herb garden
- Herbs do not grow in wet soil. You have to have good drainage.
- Herbs can be used to add color to the garden and as such, they attract pollinators well. Check out how gorgeous purple basil is! Or lavender!
- They will spread, some a little, so give them room, and some a lot, so make sure you keep them contained somehow. Mint, oregano, and lemon balm will take over your whole property if unrestrained.
- Most herbs need lots of sun. Make sure they get plenty.
If you like to have fresh herbs in your food, or if you just like to garden, you should consider having an herb garden. We mix ours in the garden and have pots of them around. They are so pretty, fragrant for a wonderful sensory experience for kids and adults, add tons of flavor and health to our food, and they attract beneficial insects that protect our garden. Whatever way you end up growing your herbs, you should prepare yourself to enjoy this great hobby!
Herb gardening is relatively simple: remember to use good soil and fertilizer (natural and organic is the way to go), water infrequently but in large quantities, and expose your precious herbs to the sun, sun, and more sun. You’re gonna do great!