March 02 2015
PICT00382 1024x680

Grow Your Own Herbs

Over the course of time, herbs have been used to flavor foods and beverages, perfume our homes and bodies, decorate our gardens, and treat our ills.  The utility of herbs can’t be measured. Here we share how you grow your own selection, indoors or outdoors.

1st – Prepare your soil A rich soil is best, and is easy to work with.  Most herbs will thrive and survive in a wide variety of soil types, and by making simple improvements, you will yield a soil ideal for the herb.  First, test your soil for texture and fertility.  A good soil is 50% solids and 50% porous space.  The porous space provides room for water, air, and plant roots. The solids things like fine rock particles and organic matter such as decayed plant matter. Loam is the ideal garden soil, with a combination of 20 percent clay, 40 percent silt, and 40 percent sand.  To make the soil drain better or hold more water, you can easily add organic matter.  Organic matter is any material that was once living but is now dead and decaying. You can use ground corncobs, sawdust, bark chips, straw, hay, eggshells, or grass clippings from your own yard.

Remember, your soil should be at least 6 inches deep regardless of whether you are growing your herbs indoors or outdoors.  If you are starting with plants, be sure to place the base of the stem 1 inch below the lip of the pot when growing them indoors.
2nd – Choose your space You will have many opportunities to be creative with the layout and location of your herb garden.  Maybe you would like a container garden in or close to the kitchen for the aromatic herbs that you love to use in your gourmet recipes.  Or you would like the look and aroma of rows of lacy anise swaying in the breeze along the walk to and from your house.  And, note that while a separate herb garden is aromatic and beautiful, you can blend herbs with flowers, vegetables and even your shrub beds.  Your landscape professional / garden center professional can help you select the easiest growing herbs for the area you have in mind.

3rd – Make your selections

The best way to select which herbs to grow is to make a list of those you will most likely use and enjoy.  Then determine their soil, light, and water needs.  Use their height, spread and growth habits to decide where to place them.  During winter, Mint, Chives, Rosemary, Basil and Parsley do very well indoors.  For the outdoors, good herbs to plant in the spring include Chervil, Cilantro (also known as Coriander), and Dill.

4th – Plant your herbs Most of us decide to try our hand at growing a few favorite herbs first. You might want to start with just two, until you get a feel for it. Common choices are basil,  parsley, dill, cilantro, oregano or thyme in a pot on the windowsill.  Once you get started, you might find yourself adding to the selection simply because it is easy for most herbs to thrive with little care.  Many herbs, such as mint, do have the ability to grow quite quickly. Plant them according to the instructions provided with the herbs you purchased. It’s important to allow enough depth for good growth. Be sure pots are not too small.

 

5th – Harvest with care

When you have your plants going, take special care when harvesting. Pruning too much off at one time off any one plant can kill it.  The best strategy is to harvest a little at a time, but harvest often. It is also helpful to inspect the individual plants before harvesting. Allow plants that do not look too healthy a bit more time to recover between harvests. Not only will you improve the longevity, you will also improve the quality of the herbs as they make their way to your dinner table. Your herb plants, if looked after, will continue providing flavor, scent, and pleasure for many years!