Plant an Herb Garden

If you’re looking for a way to make a big impact in both your home landscape and your home kitchen, consider planting your own herb garden. There’s something very satisfying about adding the full flavors of fresh herbs you grow yourself to the food you’re preparing. Many common herbs are fairly easy to grow – tough perennials that can weather summer’s heat and winter’s cold and less-than-ideal soil conditions.

Like any other planting, a beautiful and successful herb garden starts with the soil. Most herbs grow best on well-drained soil. Select a site with good sun exposure and amend the soil with compost or other organic matter. A raised bed is always a good choice for an herb garden, especially on soils high in clay or sand content.

Herbs are usually recommended to be started indoors and then planted as transplants. Herb plants are readily available this time of year at garden centers and farmers markets. Plants are your best bet for late spring plantings of annuals like basil, chervil, cilantro, dill and marjoram. Some of these are harvested for seed and may self-seed.

A potted outdoor herb garden basking in the sun.

Another beautiful thing about the herb garden is its persistence. Many herbs are perennials or biennials that can weather colder winters and spring up in future years. These include chives, fennel, hyssop, oregano and parsley. Some perennial herbs even require caution – they are so vigorous perennials that they can invade into other herb territories. Members of the mint family – catnip and mint – are notorious in their growth. Lemon balm is another herb that can become weedy. Such vigor can be confined using borders and even buckets or pots sunk in the soil. Other herbs might be placed in containers within your herb garden for other reasons. Bay, lavender and rosemary are less cold-hearty; these may need to be container-grown and moved indoors during northern winters. Sage and tarragon can be grown outdoors and kept with winter protection, even farther north.

Overwatering can be a problem with herbs. One rule of thumb is to provide one weekly, deep-soaking watering (enough to reach six to eight inches deep) for the herb garden. Mulching herbs can prevent water loss by evaporation. Follow growth and spacing requirements for each herb species to make sure herbs with similar growth needs are grouped near each other.

There are dozens, even hundreds, of culinary herbs that can be grown at home. Following a basic herb garden layout found in a gardening guide, and customizing it to your own taste preferences and available space, can create a beautiful and fragrant addition of edible herbs to your home landscape.



A rule of thumb….

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