Are you ready to unlock a whole new world of flavor and fragrance? Herbal gardening is an incredibly rewarding experience that can bring your home to life with the most delightful aromas.
Not only will you have herbs on hand for cooking and baking, but you’ll also get to reap the health benefits they offer! Moreover, the fresh scent of herbs can produce a soothing, calm, and natural atmosphere in your house!
Starting your herb garden can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to remember that herbs, just like any plant, require certain care and attention to yield a successful crop.
In this article, we will provide you with the basics of herbal gardening for beginners. We have compiled a list of herbs that are easy to grow and tested a few tips and tricks to help you get started on your herb garden.
The journey to sustainable living starts now with your very own herb garden! Read on for:
Best Herbs For Cooking
This is the most common reason why herb gardens are grown. Not only are these herbs easy to cultivate indoors or outdoors, they are also frequently used to enhance the aroma and flavor of dishes.
Commonly used to compliment tomato-based dishes and soups, oregano is a hardy herb that will not give herb gardeners a hassle in cultivating and growing. It can grow well with cuttings or seeds, and once established, can grow tall and aggressively, so pruning may be required to keep it in shape. It can tolerate direct sun and partial shade, and avoid leaving its soil wet. Other than this, it is a low-maintenance herb. Oregano also has medicinal benefits too! Cut the needed leaves and dry them, or use them fresh.
Another aromatic herb that is easy to grow from seeds is basil. Basil is used to complement a lot of Italian dishes (pesto, anyone?). What’s great about basil is that you can grow it in a container and pinch the leaves now and then to encourage bushy growth. It likes a lot of sun. Just make sure to keep its soil moist, especially if planted in a container. It is an annual herb, and though some varieties self-sow, you can save its seeds to plant it again for the next season.
In the same family as onion and garlic, the grass-like chives provide an onion-like flavor to salads and soups. It is a perennial and likes a lot of sun and moist soil. As it grows in clumps, dividing them is necessary to keep growth vigorous. Chives are shallow-rooted so be wary of weeds and carefully consider the plants they are paired with.
Usually paired with meats and stews, rosemary is not just a culinary staple. A low-maintenance plant once it is established, the spike-leaved rosemary awards its plant parents with occasional small blooms. It likes full sun but can do well in partial sun. It is drought tolerant as well, just keep its soil moist. Rosemary can be grown in containers as well.
Sage leaves make any dish more aromatic with their peppery flavor, but as an ornamental plant, its blue and purple flowers will make any outdoor or window box garden pop with color. Sage is a hardy plant that loves the sun and can tolerate drought, just keep its soil moist to keep it happy.
This is a very popular herb that has been used for cooking and health purposes. It is easy to grow and cultivate, and awards you with small blooms occasionally. Grow it along with your other herbs that enjoy full sun and moist, well-drained soil. A word of caution though, mint can grow aggressively and needs pruning to stay in shape. Grow mint in a container box by the window to help keep pests away in the home, too!
Best Medicinal Herbs
Whether it is for aromatherapy, relaxation or an alternative to alleviating symptoms, some herbs are grown to improve one’s health and well-being. Here are four medicinal herbs must-haves for your budding apothecary.
It is a relaxing way to end the day with some chamomile tea, and if you can grow your own, this ritual will no longer be a hassle. Chamomile grows easily and can be grown in garden beds or in window boxes, as long as their spot gets a lot of morning sun, or afternoon sun, if the temperatures in your area are a little higher. Keep its soil moist to keep it happy, and since it can grow tall, you can put sticks to prevent the blooms from drooping down.
Calendula, or pot marigold, has medicinal properties such as an antioxidant, and it is used as a dye on certain cosmetics and fabrics. But other than these, calendulas are also grown for their adorable yellow flowers which are great companions for other plants as it attracts pollinators. Whether in a garden bed or a window box planter, calendulas love the sun and moist soil, but they can still grow in not-so-perfect conditions.
The fragrance of thyme not only adorns your home or sidewalk, it also has health and culinary benefits and is a great ground cover for garden beds or container gardens. Give thyme a lot of sun, either grow it outside or in a container placed in a sunny window or with grow lights. You can also grow thyme in water indoors. If in soil, keep the ground moist and once the plant is established, you may harvest the leaves, but avoid over-pruning the plant.
Cats are not the only ones who would go gaga for catnip, their fur moms and dads would also have a lot of benefits in having catnip in their home. Known to help with digestion problems and can also be used for relaxation purposes, catnip is a low-maintenance plant and is easy to grow. Give it a lot of suns and keep its soil moist, though it can tolerate drought. To use it, prune catnip stems and leaves and dry them, and after two to three weeks, you may crumble the leaves and flowers to use them.
If you are looking into starting your small herb garden but do not have the space or the light needed for most of the herbs mentioned here, you can start with this hydroponic growing system from Herb Garden. The system has its own grow lights, making herb growing possible indoors, and the container allows you to grow up to 12 plants. The system also has a self-watering system, automating the watering needs of the plants and lessening the hassle (and mess) of maintenance . The grow light has a timer and the intensity is adjustable to give the best conditions for your herb garden. It is the perfect balance of features and price.
- “Relative to Aerogarden, this is quite the bargain. Nothing fancy, but very adequate for home gardening. I use two Aerogardens with Wi-Fi, timing, etc., so I do not need to use these features with the new device. Has a solid silicone lid which anticipate will make lid cleaning so much easier than Aerogardens. On the other hand, the lid does not have a suitable opening to add a supplemental air tube. Side of the tank is thinner than Aerogarden and has a strut in the water tank to add separation. This means some additional cleaning of the tank, however. Lights work fine, but no option other than a 16 hour on/ 8 hour off cycle. Light can be lowered closer to the growing surface and extends much farther away than the Aerogarden, which is a real plus. Aerorgaden hole covers and pod containers do not fit exactly right, but I’ll live with it.”, Robert Walker
Herbal Gardening Considerations
Herbs are easier to grow and cultivate as compared to vegetables, but there are a lot of things to consider if you want them to grow their best: happy herbs will bring out the best benefits after all.
- Consider the purpose of growing a herb garden: will you be growing herbs for cooking purposes or primarily for medicinal purposes?
- While there are herbs that work both ways, it is best to care for herbs that fit your primary purpose for them. Most home herbal gardens are used in the kitchen.
- The time you can invest in a herb garden is essential too. It is recommended that you keep perennial herbs in your garden, as they grow all year long and you do not need to replant them every season or so.
- Annual herbs need to be replanted since they die at a certain season, but there are annual herbs that do seed, and these allow you to enjoy them every year.
- Check your living space. Most herbs love partial to full sun, so if you have a backyard or an open space to the south or east side of the home, you can take advantage of growing more varieties of herbs.
- Fret not if your home is space is a premium or if you hardly get sunlight in; container gardening is trending and some herbs can thrive in partial shade. You can also invest in grow lights.
- Herbs grow in the wild, so they are not particular to the kind of soil that they are planted in. Gardening soil is a great choice for your herb garden.
- Watering depends on the location, season and the humidity your plants are getting. Most herbs like moist soil and may need more watering during the summer months.
- Gardens planted outdoors have a more frequent watering schedule as compared to indoor gardens. For busy garden owners, automatic watering systems, especially for bigger herb gardens, are recommended.
Herbal Gardening: Step-by-Step Guide
Grab your gardening shovel, and let us get on with growing your herb garden!
Step 1: Bed in
- For beginners, it is recommended to begin with transplants than with seeds, as transplants are more established and have a higher chance of survival than waiting for seeds to germinate.
- Transplants (with the right maturity) can handle a little bit of rough handling from their owners as well.
- The best time to prepare your herb garden is during springtime: the growing season for most herbs.
Step 2: Space out
- Put your transplant in your dedicated spot (if your garden will be outdoors) or in your planter (if indoors).
- When spacing your transplants, consider providing enough space for when you harvest them. If you are unsure, more space is always better, as you can always fill in the gap between each plant when they grow.
- Consider the growing nature of your herbs as well: some herbs may grow tall, and some herbs trail, such as some varieties of oregano and mint.
Step 3: Organise
- If you will grow a group of herbs, it is best to put together herbs with the same light and water requirements.
- Some herbs can help each other out in the garden: an example of this is cilantro and anise, which grow well together. It also pays to experiment with which combination of herbs and other plants can work best in your garden.
- But some herbs grow best alone, such as fennel, since they tend to prevent the growth of its neighbours.
Step 4: Care
- Water: 2-3 times a week, keeping the soil moist. Some herbs like basil and mint can be lightly watered everyday. Locations with stronger winds will need to be watered more often. Use automatic plant waterers for peace of mind or if you travel often.
- Soil: For better results, incorporate earthworm compost into a soil mix that contains lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA) pellets. Using fine-grade LECA pellets (4mm) helps to improve soil drainage and allows the roots to dry out quickly between watering.
- Fertilizer: If you are using organic fertilizer or compost, apply it once a week. If you are using chemical fertilizer, apply it once every two weeks. For slow-release fertilizer pellets, use them once a week. Avoid overfeeding your plants as it can cause rapid and tender growth, making them more susceptible to pest infestations.
Step 5: Enjoy
- Come harvest time, pinch or snip the leaves, or uproot the herb (if you need the roots) early in the morning for the best results.
- Bear in mind every herb has its pruning requirements. If you want your young herb to thrive, it’s important to prune it as this will stimulate the growth of new stems and leaves. To keep the herb alive and avoid bitter leaves, remove the flowers as it grows.
- You can use the flowers that have been pinched off from your herbs to add flavor to teas or food. Make sure you pinch off only 2 to 4 inches from the top of the stem and avoid taking more than 1/3 of the plant in total.
- To prevent diseases, make sure not to tear or rip off the stems of your herbs.
Herbal gardening can be a rewarding hobby that provides both culinary and medicinal benefits. It does not take much to get started—a bit of research, some soil, and maybe even some grow lights! With the right knowledge and care, you will soon have the best herb garden in town! So go ahead, give it a try, and enjoy your harvest!