If you enjoy having flavorful ingredients for cooking, there is nothing better than growing your own fresh herbs. Growing herbs provides many rewards, with relatively little effort. Adding herbs to your garden is a great way to expand the range of recipes you can create from your garden’s produce!
Why Add Herbs to Your Garden
Herbs pack a major flavor punch in a dainty package and greatly enhance any dish you add them to. The price of fresh herbs at the grocery store can make you flinch - ‘do I really need fresh thyme in that dish?’ But if you have a flourishing herb garden, you will be looking for new and creative ways to use them rather than shying away! Herbs also contain vitamins and minerals and offer many health benefits.
Most herbs are quite easy to grow. They can thrive in nutrient-poor soil and some even prefer to dry out slightly! And herbs benefit your garden overall- they are great companion plants that can help ward off pests and attract beneficial insects and pollinators.
How to Select Herbs for your Garden
The first thing to consider when deciding which herbs to plant is what herbs do you like to eat? If you don’t regularly enjoy eating it, don’t bother growing it (unless you are experimenting with something new!)
Some herbs, such as mint, are perennials that can come back every year. Some perennial herbs may not be able to withstand winter in your area though, so be sure to confirm that the specific varieties you select are hardy in your growing zone. There are also herbs, such as dill, that are prolific self-seeders that will likely regrow each year.
Perennial and self-seeding herbs can be an asset in your garden if they are planted in a convenient location. Be warned, though, that some of these herbs can take over your garden if they are not contained. Bear this in mind when choosing which herbs to plant and where to plant them.
How to Plant and Care for Herbs
Some herbs can be easily started from seed, and some can even be propagated from cuttings. Others can be more tricky to grow from scratch, but buying herb plants from your local garden center still provides a great return on your investment.
Generally, herbs prefer a full-sun location and very well-draining soil. If you are growing in heavy clay soil it will need amending with compost and sand. Different herbs can have unique preferred growing conditions, however. Even though it looks enticing to plant a variety of herbs together, check their unique growing needs in Planter and avoid grouping herbs with very different needs in the same space.
You may opt to grow herbs in containers to have better control of the growing conditions. Planting herbs in containers also has the advantage of helping to control spread (except for rogue seeds!) If you do plant your herbs in containers, be sure they have drainage holes or use fabric pots that allow excess water to drain. You will need to water herbs in containers more often than if they were planted in the ground or in larger raised beds. Containers will also need extra care over the winter. Bring them into a garage or shed to help protect them, and bear in mind that perennial herbs will be less winter-hardy if they are grown in containers.
Regardless of whether you plant in-ground or in containers, it helps to have your herbs in a location that is handy to the kitchen. Otherwise you might not be inclined to go harvest them when you are in the middle of cooking!
When it comes to caring for herbs often less is more. Many herbs do not like to be overwatered and prefer to dry out between waterings, and as a general rule herbs need minimal fertilizing. There are always exceptions though, so be sure to check Planter for watering and fertilizing recommendations for the herbs you grow.
When your herbs are ready to harvest, don’t be afraid to give them a haircut! Herbs thrive with a regular trim; it helps them be more productive. Just don’t cut away more than one third of the plant at once. Check out the harvesting and storage tips in Planter to get the most out of your herbs:
Include your favorite herbs in your garden, and enjoy harvesting the freshest possible herbs right outside your door!