It is not wise to try every variety on your first foray into growing herbs. Choose four or five hardy varieties of cooking herbs and experiment with different flavors and recipes. Lavender is one of my personal favorites for a non-culinary herb and it is remarkably easy to grow.
Some of the more hardy and versatile herbs for cooking include cilantro, basil, oregano, and parsley.
Aside from which types to grow, there are other worthy considerations before you plant an herb garden – especially if space is limited and you’re planning on a small, out-the-kitchen-door herb garden.
Four Keys to Growing Herbs: 3 Parts Location, 1 Part Planting
Let’s first discuss location. Keep in mind that most of these herb plants in your garden are going to be used in the kitchen, you’ll want to choose a location that is easily accessible to the country cook.
Think close to the door. If you have a deck you might also consider container planting herbs. I love growing herbs in containers due to bouts of colder weather and the short growing season here – I can drag my containers in for a night when frost threatens or at get another few months out of my herbs at the end of fall. You simply carry your herb containers in for a longer life at the start or the end of the season.
Easy access is another location concern that determines how many of your growing herbs actually make it to the chopping board. When the herbs are within reach you are more likely to run out and pick a few leaves for your meals. On the other hand, if you have to go all the way to the back of your property or obscure corner of your flower garden, you may find yourself too rushed or tired to use your herbs.
You do not need acres of land to have a fantastic herb garden. You can have more than enough space for the most common herbs in a five foot square area. You must remember the fact that herbs tend to spread rapidly when growing. You can start out with five feet and within a few short months have the entire section full.
Sun or Shade When Growing Herbs
A sunny location is a good choice for your herb garden. A spot or container that gets partial shade in the afternoon is best. Herbs love the sun, but too much can burn them, make them wither, or cause them to sprout up and go to seed too early. Once an herb goes to seed, all the energy goes to the stock and seed and your leaves won’t be as tasty or as lush. Do not allow your herbs to have full sun in the morning however and you could end up with weak-legged plants.
With practice you will find the best location and amount of sun for your herb garden.
Proper growth will also ensure that the essential oils within an herb’s leaves will fully develop. In full sun plants are able to develop luscious green foliage and intense oils.
Soil Enhancement For Growing Herbs
Natural herbs, before genetic alterations for flavor, beauty and growth, were once weeds – therefore they are hardy and will grow in almost any soil.
Should you choose to enrich the soil you are planting your herbs in, be mindful of the type of fertilizer you employ. Keeping it natural and neutral is best for herbs and for your body! The mere act of adding a leaf compost and tilling it under when planting can be all it takes to make your herb garden flourish.
Watch Out for Traveling Herbs!
Some herbs like to travel (mint is one of the biggest culprits for wandering as are chives for seed sowing), so know your herbs before you plant them and keep an eye on where they may be throwing their seeds or sprouting off to.
The benefit to traveling herbs is that should they wander into the lawn, when you mow you will be blessed with a heavenly scent – the drawback is that these herbs may in time become invasive to your lawn.