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Growing herbs is the perfect project for new gardeners; everyone should know how to start an herb garden.
Herbs are just as easy to grow as vegetable plants, so if you can grow a tomato plant, you can grow a basil plant. There are all kinds of herbs that you can grow, and herbs are a great way to attract pollinators to your garden.
Start by figuring out what herbs you want to grow and where to put your herbs. Be creative and think outside of the box; herbs grow everywhere! Here’s what you need to know to start growing an herb garden.
TYPES OF HERBS TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN
Herb gardens are as diverse as vegetable gardens. Decide why you want to grow herbs. Do you want to use the herbs for culinary or medicinal purposes? That helps you decide which herbs to grow. Some herbs are multi-purpose; they taste great in dishes and work in herbal remedies.
Here are a few of the best types of herbs to grow.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs to grow. Everyone recognizes the scent and flavor of basil; it’s intense, whether fresh or dried. Basil is an excellent culinary herb that’s perfect for beginners to grow.
Surprisingly, basil has several medicinal uses as well, such as reducing inflammation and easing arthritic pain.
Growing basil from seeds is easy; they germinate quickly and handle dry spells better than other herbs.
Most know chives as the little green things you put on top of a baked potato, but they’re an easy to grow, hardy, perennial herb that belongs in all herb gardens. Not only does it taste great in dishes, but it chases away annoying pests from your garden. Some suggest that chives are a natural antibiotic, similar to garlic since they’re in the same family. They help to relieve frustrating digestive problems and ease inflammation.
No herb garden is complete without lavender. It’s one of the most versatile herbs for remedies, but it’s also used as a seasoning and baking dish.
The only problem with growing lavender is that it’s hard to propagate through seeds. It requires a period of cold stratification, so a new gardener is better off buying pots of lavender at the store until you feel more comfortable with gardening.
Check out my comprehensive guide on how to grow lavender.
Parsley goes into many culinary dishes, and it’s known for being anti-bacterial and boosting immune systems. Thousands of dishes include parsley in their recipes, so make sure to grow this herb in your garden.
Parsley grows well whether you sow the seeds directly into the garden, or you might start the seeds indoors.
Oregano is a classic culinary herb that belongs in many Italian-inspired dishes. It has a strong flavor and aroma, but it’s also a powerful medicinal herb. Oregano treats upset stomachs, respiratory problems, fungal infections, and more.
Growing oregano from seeds is easy, and, in some areas, oregano handles cold weather and will continue as a perennial plant.
Believe it or not, lemon balm belongs to the mint family, offering health benefits along with a citrus flavor that everyone loves. It’s commonly used to ease nerve and muscle tension, but you also can use it as a substitute for mint in most recipes or remedies.
Herbalists love lemon balm because it’s known to reduce inflammation, prevent infections, and heal cold sores. It’s a prolific garden herb, so be sure to harvest frequently or grow in a container to stop the spread.
Mint is one of the best-known herbs, but be careful when growing it because it likes to spread rapidly throughout your garden. If you aren’t careful, peppermint likes to overtake other plants, so consider growing it in containers or pruning regularly.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO START AN HERB GARDEN?
The best time to start an herb garden is in the spring. You should plant most herbs after the final frost in the area. Find your USDA hardiness zone and use that information to find out when your last frost date is. Plan to start your garden after that date.
Before the last frost of the year, you should pick the place to start your herb garden and prepare the soil. It should be ready to be planted as soon as the last frost date arrives.
HOW TO START AN HERB GARDEN
When you’re ready to have an herb garden, here are the steps to get started.
Pick a Space
The first thing you need to do is find the right location for your herb garden. Most herbs enjoy full sunlight, which means the plants receive six to eight hours of sun per day. Make sure it’s an area that has well-draining soil because soggy roots will lead to plant death.
Growing Herbs in Pots vs. in The Ground
You have to decide if you want to grow herbs in containers or the ground or do both. Don’t feel limited! Sometimes, you want to a few pots on your patio, and the rest are planted in an in-ground garden or raised garden bed.
Growing herbs in pots is a great idea if you don’t have a lot of space. Those who have only patios or balconies can still have an herb garden by using different-sized pots, hanging baskets, or window boxes.
Use the Right Soil
Soil is the foundation of a healthy, productive garden, and that’s true for herb gardens. Applying compost to the soil before planting provides your plants with all of the needed nutrients before growing and planting.
If you use containers, make sure that you a potting soil that’s meant for containers. Containers need more drainage than raised garden beds, which means you need to water pots more frequently.
It’s best to test your soil if you have a raised garden bed or an in-ground garden. Your local county extension office offers soil testing for a minimal price, and the tests are accurate. It lets you know what your soil nutrients are and the pH range. Use this information to amend your soil properly.
Plant Your Herb Garden
Now it’s time to start planting. Most herbs require a space of 12 inches because they grow wider, but check your seed packets or information on the seed pot before planting. Some plants spread wider than 12 inches, and some are smaller and can be placed closer together.
Dig holes for each of your plants; try digging the holes and putting the seedlings into the holes but not filling them until all plants are placed. Look to see if you need to adjust any spacing before gently loosening the dirt around the roots and planting your herbs.
Make sure to water deeply after planting the herbs. Watering helps the roots establish in the ground.
HOW TO START GROWING HERBS INDOORS
Don’t fret if you don’t have space outside to grow herbs. It’s possible to have an indoor herb garden! The most important step to growing herbs indoors is to find the right spot for the containers.
Let’s look at the needed steps.
- Find a Well-Lit Area or Use Growing Lights
If you don’t have any space in your home with ample natural sunlight, grow lights are a suitable option. Ideally, you’ll find a south-facing window with plenty of natural light. That’s the best place to put your indoor herbs. They love to grow on windowsills.
If you have a window that receives some sunlight but not enough, hang a grow light above the space that you can turn on throughout the day as a supplemental light.
- Find Good Containers
Using the right containers for herbs is also important. Containers need to have a few drainage holes at the bottom to let the water come out. Standing water kills herbs.
Since you’re growing the herbs inside, make sure they have a saucer underneath the pot to catch the draining water.
This herb pot set would look cute in any windowsill!
- Use Potting Soil for Containers
The soil that you need to use should be for containers. This type of soil offers better drainage for water. It also contains the nutrients that your plants need for proper growth.
- Plant Your Herbs
Most small containers only fit one herb at a time, but larger containers hold more than one plant at a time. If you want to grow more than one together, look for a pot that is 12-inches wide.
- Water Frequently
Indoor-grown herbs need to be watered frequently because indoor air is drier than it is outside. To help increase the humidity levels, mist your plants with water regularly, and keep a small bowl of water near your plants. Mulch around the base of your plants to help retain moisture.
WHERE TO BUY HERB SEEDS
You can find a good selection of herb seeds at your local gardening store, or you can order online at a seed store like Thrive Market.
I love to order my seeds online because they have a huge selection and you can get different varieties than may be available at your local store. I also like to make sure I’m purchasing non-GMO seeds, which can be difficult to find in some stores.
I highly recommend Thrive Market for non-GMO herb seeds. (get free shipping when you spend $35)
START GROWING AN HERB GARDEN
Everyone should have an herb garden; they’re so easy to grow. Start by picking the herbs that you want to grow the most and find the perfect location that receives six hours of sunlight. Make sure to water your herbs frequently and harvest as often as possible to encourage bushy growth.